Flashbang Memories #2

“Christmastime is here, by golly. Disapproval would be folly, deck the halls with hunks of holly. Fill the cup and don’t say when. Kill the turkeys, ducks & chickens, mix the punch, drag out the Dickens. Even now the prospect sickens: brother here we go again.” -Tom Lehrer

The spirit always gets me pretty hard during the holidays. When it was just me & Bettie, Xmas eve was the time for quiet affection. We’d make homemade pizza, drink wine and open our present to each other. We’ve never had much in the way of disposable income -except when I was bartending in Pittsburgh and that was our first Christmas together so we didn’t know any better- but we’ve been lucky and always seemed to get boxes and boxes of gifts from parents and siblings and friends, so that was Christmas morning- but the eve was for us, for our own time.

Every Christmas Eve we would listen to the Mercury Theatre broadcast of A Christmas Carol and talk about how NEXT Halloween we’d remember to listen to their broadcast of War Of The Worlds (we’ve been celebrating Christmas together for something ridiculous, like 12 years now, and we still forget about WotW every Halloween) and go to sleep with a glass of whisk(e)y on the table next to the bed.

Bedside Whisky we call this tradition. It is either for Santa, or for me if I wake up thirsty.

Some years, exhausted from the pizza and wine and present exchanging, we’d climb into bed and play the Christmas Carol on the little clock radio/CD player in the bedroom, and fall asleep to the dulcet tones of Orson Welles. Then we’d always jerk awake at the end of the program when the Campbell Soup fanfare would kick in…

Then Sam came to join us, and suddenly Christmas was a much bigger deal. Even when he was tiny and could give a shit less (though he has always enjoyed the mess and clutter & Mommy + Daddy’s infectious good moods) the holiday became more about him & the scads of loot his loving grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles and greats of all varieties shower on him. So Christmas Eve has remained our quiet time, as our income is even less disposable now than it has ever been.

We still do pizza on the eve, and it has only gotten better with time. We still exchange our presents to each other, and then after Sam goes to sleep we put up the big tree and arrange the gifts beneath it while sharing a little of the holiday cheer and listen to Orson and the gang tell us about that Scrooge guy again. The bedside whiskey stays in the living room now, since Sam has a tendency to flail when he seeks a warmer bed than his own. And in the morning, Sam comes out into the living room to find his parents- because we are both too excited to stay in bed and wait for him to wake us.

Flashbang Memories #1

The first show I went to was…

Well, lemme back up a bit.

You know how in some circles there is an amount of ironic or real pride in the first show someone saw? Especially with people who came of age during the 80s, this sort of: “Yeah, that is right, I saw Hall & Oates/Poison/Cyndi Lauper with my cool cousin when I was thirteen” kind of stories?

I was always hesitant to join in those convos. “Eh, it was prolly the first stage of the Monsters of Rock tour, Metallica, G’nR, Faith No More opening” I’d say. “FNM kicked ass, the rest was okay”.

And while that is true, in some sense of “Show”, it also isn’t.

When I was three, my mother took me to see Carmen at the Cleveland Opera House- isn’t that a show? It never seemed to count. Opera isn’t that cool in that many circles, even if Bizet’s show is a bloodthirsty melodrama and not “stuffy” at all… Or when I was even younger and I was backstage, an infant in arms, while the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra played… that is a show, right? Eh, classical music is even less cool than Opera.

I remember being fourteen, bored and too hostile to be comfortable in my own skin, but too shy to be a punk, standing near the trees and watching Fugazi play free shows in the park near Wilson. But they were a local band, that doesn’t count- hell, I went to the same school as Ian MacKye’s little sister. That never felt very cool (until I was older and realized what a treat that was, in retrospect).

In retrospect, I had a really fucking cool childhood. I hung out with really fascinating people involved in classical music, many of whom treated me with great respect and affection. At the time, I felt painfully uncool. In retrospect, it’s pretty awesome that I went to Toys R Us with Yo Yo Ma to help him pick out a present for his kids. That (Sir) Neville Mariner dragged me out of bed on Easter to go outside and teach him how to shoot a slingshot (my mother intervened after she saw that he was setting up empty bottles on the fender of her car. I was young).

Memories that, now, I grin over and try to explain to my wife in gushing goony monologues (she is so patient, god bless her).

So that is nice. Plus, dude?

Fugazi! That was AWESOME!