Friday, July 24, 2015

Getting STONED with my Teens

The first love of my life was Donny Osmond.  An “expensive” love my mom would say after our weekly trips to Rexall Drugs for the latest fan magazines. Donny was plastered all over my room, 27 posters to be exact, and “One Bad Apple” was the soundtrack of my 7th grade existence.  I thought Donny was it.

All that changed one day in 1972. A crisp, new copy of Life Magazine arrived in the mail, smelling that soft, waxy Crayola smell.  When I pulled it out of the mailbox, the cover revealed a young man in a rhinestone-studded jumpsuit, cut low to his waist.  His hair was shaggish and sweaty, his lips gorgeous.  My heart throbbed as I flipped through the pages.  Of course, I’d heard “Satisfaction” on the am radio, but little did I know how much Mick Jagger would bring me. All of a sudden the clean-cut Donny lost his appeal.  Mick was it.  He was One Bad Apple.  My Bad Apple.  

Just a short time later, I became Mick. Our 8th grade class held a karaoke-style musical for the school. While other students were imitating singers like Carole King, I pranced around the stage, hand on my hip mouthing “Jumping Jack Flash.”  I even spread rose petals on the floor and threw water at the student drummer like I’d seen Mick do in Gimme Shelter (thanks older sister of my bff for sneaking us into the drive-in).

I relayed this story to my two teens on the ride to the Zip Code concert in Detroit. They listened intently, and then Daughter asked, “Did the other kids say your act was cool?”  “Of course,” I replied (in truth, they had used the word strange).

Ironically, as the stadium lights dimmed and the fireworks ignited, the first few chords of “Jumping Jack Flash” broke out.  My heart stopped. There he was strutting the stage, skinny black pants, sequined jacket, head jerking from side to side…My Mick Jagger. I was swept up in the frenzy immediately, acutely aware that my kids and I were witnessing not only the most popular band in the world, but in the history of western music. You have your perpetual top of the charts— Beethoven, Mozart, Miles. But none of these beloved masters have been translated into thousands of languages—all of them rock and roll.  This genre—an adolescent in the 60s--has been intertwined with fashion, politics, rebellion, and mostly, freedom of expression.

I once read that at some point in the near future, all of the people in the world would have had a rock and rock adolescence.  Rock and all its spinoffs—metal, punk, hip-hop--is the common denominator of multiple generations.

And who exemplifies rock more than The Rolling Stones?  Elvis is dead, The Beatles have dissolved, and other iconic figures have simply not had the globetrotting 53 years legacy that the Stones have. Try asking your mother about The Who and she’ll say, who

The Stones are household words.  Their songs raised us and now they’re raising our kids. I wont say they are more popular than Jesus, but their guitar riffs are embedded in our DNA, their high voltage performances set the template for live music. The Stones’ hits have pumped it up at ball games, crossed over races and cultures, and have inspired mothers and daughters, swaying side to side together in giant arenas, to screech rape, murder…it’s just a shot away!

This type of experience would not have been possible with my own parents.  Their music, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, did not transfer to a younger audience—one that embraced sexual energy, driving rhythms, and controversial lyrics.  It simply didn’t speak to a generation that questioned authority, war, and middle class values, that demanded equal rights for blacks, equal pay for women, and purple haze for all.  

The music and the world of my parents were insular. Rock and roll was a game changer. A game my parents couldn’t play.

I felt a pang in my chest thinking about the missed opportunities to bond with my folks in this way.  And even more, at the great divide that the cultural revolution of the 60s and rock and roll had created.

But then I turned to my teens. They were mesmerized by Mick as he skipped down the catwalk, punching at the air. His teasing and taunting, his Tina Turner moves were weaving their magic. My Mick Jagger.  The Rolling Stones. The band who’s the very fabric of the world’s most dominant form of music. We were one.

And when Mick put the mic to his gorgeous 72-year old lips and began singing a favorite anthem, Erin, Michael and I, and a crowd of 40,000 devotees joined in: “I-I-I know, it’s only rock and rock, but…”

But… really, it’s so much more.

P.S.  If my son or daughter tell you that at one point in my fury, I screamed at the top of my lungs, “I’d pay $1000 to be sitting near that extended runway,” don’t believe them. 

I’d pay more.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Showers, Beer, and Social Networking--Oh, My

In my fantasy life, I dream of having just one normal day.  Just one.

While I was in the shower yesterday, reaching for the shampoo I saw this: 

Being a parent of two college-aged kids, I found this inappropriate on more than one level.  First, Yuengling is a crappy beer.  As an IPA Enthusiast, I thought my kids knew better.  Second, glass in the shower, not so smart.

So then I did what any normal mom would do in this situation:  I snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook.

When Older Son was in the kitchen making his morning coffee (at 1:30 pm), he told me to remove the photo from Facebook.  

Me:  Sorry.  I have the right to freedom of speech.

Him:  Freedom of speech is a privilege. Take it off. It’s embarrassing.

Me:  Sorry. It’s a right for the woman who pushed you through her body.   I mean, think of shitting out a bowling ball. 

Him:  (looking at me, sadly)  This conversation reminds me of a scene in a movie that’s trying to show just how crazy the mom is. 

Me:  Point taken.  But  it was like pushing out a 10 pound bowling ball! That means I’ve earned some rights and privileges in this family.

Him:  (looking at me, sadly).

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Conscious Uncoupling Schmuckeling

It’s early in the evening and we’re seated across the table from one another. Our laptops are open, our glasses of Stone IPA, full. For a moment, he lifts his up his Mac and shows me a viral photo on Facebook. We both laugh.

 In my fantasy life, the man across from me would close his computer. He’d take my hand and gently lead me upstairs. We’d put on some Miles Davis, whisper to one another in the dark, and fall into a deep sleep. There would, of course, be other things in between.

But this is how it will be in reality: we’ll close our laptops and go upstairs, he to his room, I to mine. I’ll crawl in bed alone and watch an episode of Chopped on my laptop; he’ll crawl into bed alone and call his girlfriend on his cell.

This is not a bad thing. Nor is it a sad thing. It just is. The man sitting across from me, my housemate, is my ex-husband. We have a conscious uncoupling arrangement. Gwyneth may have popularized the phrase, but I started doing it first. By default, if truth be told.

Six years ago, I decided we needed to separate. At that time, we hadn’t talked (besides information-gathering about our kids) for two years. We’d seen three different marriage counselors—none helped. While breaking up my family was something I abhorred doing, the situation had become intolerable. 

Like most break ups, it was rough. Our kids were inconsolable and my mother was depressed. We faced financial hardships, we faced emotional heartache, and we felt anger and hatred that reasonable people should never have to feel. And even though I had lived on my own for a time, we ended up cohabitating again. This was due both to our commitment to co-parenting and out of financial necessity.

But neither explain these: I've gone with him and the kids to his family’s place in New York for Thanksgiving; he visits my mom and aunt regularly; we sit together at our son's sporting events; and, like tonight. we drink IPAs together in the evening.

In spite of our divorce, we do things together for our family. And perhaps, for ourselves. I know what you maybe thinking: they still have feelings for one another. We do. Unless there is lying, or cheating, or some type of abuse in a relationship, how could one not?

You see, in the past 20 some years, I’ve never spent a Christmas morning without him. We built a life together; we have a shared history. And we celebrate that.

But we’ve also moved on. This past December, we had my family over as usual on Christmas Eve. They’ve grown to accept this “unusual” situation, continuing to give my ex the same amount of money damn them as they give me. On Christmas day, we opened gifts with our kids, had breakfast, and then he took off to his girlfriend’s and I made dinner for my kids and my man friend.

It's true. I have a man. We’ve been together for five years now. My ex and his partner for two. Oddly enough, they understand the complicated nature of family and finances, and they’re okay with the situation. There’s even been numerous times when the four of us have been together at social events. One time last June while we were all together preparing for our daughter’s graduation party at the house, I accidentally said to my ex, “Honey, would you get the ice?” His girlfriend smiled.

Yes, Virginia, there can be more than one honey in this world. Just as the concept of family has grown to something larger than a nuclear one, so has the concept of divorce.

There are times, too numerous to count, when I pray wish my ex would take his 1972 Cadillac and 3,000 vinyl albums and move in with his girlfriend. Stay tuned for those stories where I won't be so kind.

But, tonight we’re here, together, in our house. And tomorrow when I’m too hungover tired to get out of bed, I’ll ask him to get up and drive our son to baseball practice. And he will.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Longing For Those Good Old (Sticky) Days

Have you seen that scene in Bridesmaids where the mom of three complains about her boys mausterbating all over the house? I love that scene. It's a relief to finally hear someone tell the truth about kids.

At 17 and 15 mine are past that sticky blanket phase, but we got other things going on. Daughter convinced me that buying one of those tall cans of Arizona iced tea and getting one free was a good deal.  I'm not really in favor of buying drinks with no nutritional value, except beer, but I agreed.

The following day, her younger brother expressed interest in the second can and I told him he could have it.

When Daughter discovered this she went .... well...wacko.  Somehow she thought it had her name on it. But we checked and it didn't.

Her:  (to her younger brother) That's mine.  I put it in the fridge to get cold.

Him:  Nope.  It's mine now.

Her: Give it to me.

Him: (sipping) Ummm. It's good.

Her:  Mom!

Me: (the sound of a mom ignoring)

Her:  Give me half!

Him: Get a glass.

Her:  You get a glass.

Him: You get a glass.

Her:  Mom, bring me a glass!

Me: (the sound of a mom hiding)

Her:  Give it to me now!

Him: (savoring) Ahhh. So refreshing!

Her:  (the sound of her nearly 18-year old hands dumping a bowl of Fruit Loops* on her brother's chest)

Him: (the sound of his 6'2" frame covered with milk and cereal bits escaping out of the front door)

Her: (the sound of her 6'1 frame bolting to lock the front door.  And then the back door)

Him: (no sound,  just outside prancing like John Cleese in front of the kitchen window miming his complete enjoyment in drinking the iced tea. His iced tea.

Me: (out of hiding and holding my gut with laughter)

Her:  (screaming at me) If you don't stop laughing I will...I will push you!!!!

Oldest Son Emerging From Basement:  You really should do something about this, mom.

Me: Is it 5 o' clock yet?

Food and Drink addictions are serious things, folks.  And so is living with kids.

*I didn't buy the Fruit Loops.  My ex (who lives with us) got 2 boxes free and I had to hide one box from Daughter, as you can imagine.  Clearly getting free stuff isn't worth it.