“I see you’re still like, totally rock-n-roll!”
This fairly unexpected statement was spoken to me by a friend whom I hadn’t seen in several years. We’ve known each other forever — possibly literally — and she’s funny and charming and at that moment, I felt like she had never known me at all. I was wearing a T-shirt, leggings and a cardigan.
It was true that the T-shirt said AC DC on it in silver letters, but, still. I got the thing at H&M. Nobody was going to mistake me for Keith Richards, and please, let’s not forget the cardigan.
“Sure am,” I said back to my friend, because, why not? What the hell. I considered giving her that rock-n-roll hand gesture thingy but I always mess up and do the Spiderman one instead. Or are they the same? I don’t even know. I am like a rock-n-roll-Peter-Parker-slash-Mr.-Rogers. Next thing you know I’d be playing Crystal Gayle on the jukebox. Come to think of it, I believe I have played Crystal Gayle on a jukebox. And Peaches & Herb.
But enough about me.
Let’s talk about rock-n-roll, or more specifically, rock stars. The thing is, I feel like it takes a certain kind of family to raise a rock star, and mine was most certainly not that family. We had the cursing and infighting down, I suppose, but beyond that we were hopeless. Consider: I grew up in the ’80’s, an era that can be defined almost entirely by its hairdos, and yet I don’t think I knew what hairspray was until maybe 1992. We had bedtimes and we did not ever listen to music too loud. I was in a spelling bee once. I won a dictionary. I’ve never understood how a dictionary is supposed to help you spell things. Like, if you don’t know how to spell rendezvous, are you supposed to peruse the whole ‘R’ section? These are the kinds of things I think about. If you are saying to yourself, she is the least rock-n-roll person I have ever heard of, then you would be right.
And yet, it occurs to me that maybe it’s all in how you look at it. Take my mother. We were at a baby shower once, and those of you that have attended baby showers know that it’s mostly about sitting there politely and smiling while a pregnant woman opens individually wrapped onesies and baby monitors that all but allow you to change the baby’s diaper from three rooms away. Typically you are playing bingo at the same time to make it all less tedious. It was during the gift-opening at this particular shower that my mother pushed back her chair, stood up, and said, “That’s enough. I’m ready to go.”
It was rude and it was hilarious (to me, if not to the pregnant woman) and I don’t know, but I feel like that’s a little bit rock star.
As for my dad, well, for him I quite frankly cannot drum up any rock star memories at all. He was even in a band back in the day, but still, nothing. He played the trumpet and he told me that once, when he was sitting next to a girl he liked on the bus, he blew that trumpet right in her ear. She got upset, as anyone would once they have been deafened by a lunatic with a brass instrument, and her brother threatened my dad’s life.
“So, what did you do?” I asked my dad.
“I stayed in my house,” he said. “For about six months. And I started picking up weights so I would be ready if that guy came around.”
Dad, I am sorry. But no rock star refers to weightlifting as “picking up weights.”
This Thursday, I will go to sit with my dad while they pull out his four remaining bottom teeth, or anyway the roots of those teeth. The teeth themselves broke off a while back. After that, they will fit him for a new set of teeth, a full plate to replace the busted up partial he wears now. He also got new glasses. He’s 81 and well into the late stages of Alzheimer’s but you know? I think he’s finally made it. New glasses and shiny new teeth and now he’s one animal print scarf away from Steven Tyler status.
I texted my aunt: Dad got new glasses and he’s getting new bottom teeth, he’ll be a rock star.
Which just goes to show you, it’s never too late. Maybe even for me.