The Nancy Wilson/Dead Kennedys Connection

You probably shouldn't be surprised that your teen-aged son has suddenly become sullen, uncommunicative and deeply embarrassed by the mere fact of your existence.  I mean you likely gave your father the same treatment at that age, right?

Nevertheless you are surprised.  How could this charming, interesting kid--with whom you formerly had deep, thoughtful conversations--be the same person who now views every interaction with you as some form of hostile interrogation?  You only hope that once the sturm und drang of adolescence passes, the two of you will reconnect, that it will be like it was again.  You hope, but you also wonder. Or at least I do because I never did reconnect with my old man.

Occasionally, though, there's a kind of re-connection.  The other morning, for example, I was driving to work with the Ipod jacked into the car and on shuffle.  Then up pops an old Nancy Wilson song.

Did you say I have a lot to learn?
Well, don't think I'm trying not to learn.
Since this is the perfect spot to learn,

Oh, teach me tonight.

And suddenly there's my old man in our living room.  He's got his palm pressed tight against the side of his stomach and the other arm extended out to an imaginary dance partner.  And he's swaying to the music, eyes closed, smiling.  The 8-track player is blasting out The Best of Nancy Wilson and my jaded 14-year old self is reading across the room, half-listening and deeply embarrassed by this man's pretension that he's some kind of smooth dancer.  Even so, I'm listening to the music and thinking, "You know, this really isn't too bad."  Under no circumstances am I about to tell him that, however.

Then years later, probably late at night, maybe after a scotch or two, I find myself browsing through I-Tunes and I'm surprised to see Nancy Wilson's politically-incorrect "Teach Me Tonight." available for 89 cents, and I think "What the hell?"  Of course I promptly forget downloading it until, through whatever unfathomable algorithm, it appears one morning and along with it my dancing, swaying father who spins and dips as the song comes to close.

Teach me, come on and teach me, teach me tonight.

The old man looks over at me. "That's Nancy Wilson," he says. "Miss Nancy Wilson to you."  And I grimace and nod back at him.


You see?  We did connect on the rare occasion.  Still do.

So maybe there's hope for me and my kid.  Last night, for instance, I noticed him across the room buried in his laptop.  He hadn't spoken for over an hour, but when a Dead Kennedy's song popped up on my playlist, he started quietly singing along.

Knew all the damn lyrics, too.

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