March 9, 2010

(A bedtime story, to be read aloud.)

The Dad Who Rocked So Hard His Cover Band Got Signed to a Major Label
Despite Their Inability to Tour Extensively
(also told in some circles as
The Middle-Aged Man Whose Mad Skills Were Discovered
the Day he Took his Son to the Skatepark )

By Kim Luke

Once upon a time, in a town just like this, in a neighborhood that looked surprisingly similar to yours, there was a man who looked an awful lot like you, Dan. He had your curly hair - on his head and a little on his back, too. And he had a beautiful clever wife and three totally awesome kids, just like yours. He lived in home that cost him a large portion of his paycheck every month, but that was okay, because he was putting a roof over his family’s collective curly-topped heads. His name was…also Dan, isn’t that a funny coincidence? And he had made good choices in his life after college. Mostly good choices.  A number of good choices. Some on purpose and some quite by accident, and nobody ever knew any better.  These choices and happy accidents led him to this happy place in his life. All day long he would go about his work-a-day job arranging for consumers to make payments on overdue credit charges, and the evenings would be spent rollicking playfully with his two sons and baby girl, all the while his adoring wife looking on lovingly. He was a good father and husband.

But once a week Dan would gather his most precious belongings, don his very luckiest t-shirt, kiss each family member adieu and make his way across town for a sacred night. A special night. A night shared with three other men just like Dan, filled with ritual, chants and deep introspection. Once a week Dan would go to band practice.

Dan had been playing in a rock n roll band with his friends for many a year now, when the wife was a girlfriend, when the children were not considered, when the house was a couch in someone else’s apartment. Dan was a guitar player first, deep down inside, and his band-mates knew this, although they all kept these truths a secret from their family members. They were rockers. They met weekly and rocked. They rocked hard. They rocked loud. And none rocked harder or louder than Dan.

One night, during an especially rocking practice in Brian’s garage, the phone rang. The band, expecting a call from a spouse or babysitter, let out a deflated sigh and started to unplug. But no! Brian’s face could not hide his excitement! He hung up the phone and spread the good news – a major record label had heard tales of the Tangy Lemons and was ready to sign them to a three record deal. Dan, Brian, Tony and Chris were beside themselves with joy. They always knew their hard work and tireless rocking would pay off.

The very next day the small town would reel from the loss of one consumer debt consolidator, one transmission specialist, one daycare operator and one stay-at-home dad. However, the pride of that town swelled as the Tangy Lemons laid plans for their first world tour.

(Dan? Are you still awake honey? You are? Okay, I’ll keep going.)

After an implausibly short amount of time, the four band-mates found themselves in the Hollywood headquarters of a major record label, being showered with the adult beverages of their choice, served by super-models who only dated middle-aged rock stars, preferring their life experience and down-to-earth qualities to the vapid hotness of young sculpted boy bands. All of the Tangy Lemons’ wives and children had been more than happy to remain behind at home, knowing that their support “keeping it real” would be more valuable than all the riches and bitches found on the road. As the world tour took shape, so did the requisite friction that breaks up so many monsters of rock. Brian had hired a demo crew to start a tear-down on his garage in March and needed to be there to supervise; Tony’s joint custody agreement only allowed for weekend and every other weeknight dates; severe allergies made it necessary for Chris to avoid large portions of Northern Europe in the summer months. Dan tried and tried to keep the dream alive, but no matter how hard he rocked on the hometown stage, he had to face the truth - he was the only Tangy Lemon destined to rock the world.

It was a sad day when Brian, Tony and Chris took the bus back home. But Dan wiped away a tear as he boarded his touring Leer jet and waved goodbye to his best buddies and hello to his solo career and destiny: Middle-Aged Rockstar Dad.

Back home, Dan’s kids and wife would gather around the television to watch the E! Channel, the Grammy Awards and the Induction Ceremony into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, never questioning Dan’s fate. Never doubting that Middle-Aged Rockstar Dad was the best dad in the world, no matter where in the world he was.

And Dan was able to enjoy his newfound Middle-Aged Rockstar lifestyle without the slightest hint of guilt, remorse or moral and/or ethical conundrum.

(Goodnight, Dan. Sleep tight. Rock on, little Dan.)