Hello Wonderful Readers!
Today’s story of substance was meant to be posted over a week ago, on Father’s Day, but I got sidetracked, in a wonderful kind of way…
On that very day I found out I’m going to be a daddy!!!!!
So yeah, without further ado, here’s the Father’s Day tale.
All Rights Reserved.
With the urging of their mother, my kids asked me what I wanted for Father’s Day this year. I gave them the same wise-cracking answer that I always do when they hit me up for gift ideas for myself; ‘humble pie for everyone, with a scoop of goodwill.’
After their ‘come on dad, we’re serious,’ this is usually followed up by, ‘I don’t know, maybe some Old Spice? A tie? Whatever you kids want.’ And so comes more after shave for the bathroom cabinet or strips of corporate life for the tie rack.
Usually. But this year was a bit different. My precious ones were at a crucial age, the two boys being seventeen and fifteen, my little girl not so little anymore, having reached the age that will bring any father to his knees with fear: thirteen.
Hate to sound like the ol’ cliché, ‘back when I was your age,’ but as of late I’ve been finding myself using the line on my kids more often than I’d like to admit, cringing every time it slips out. It’s those damn cellphones that have me sounding like an ol’ fart, their faces buried in ‘em every friggin’ waking hour of every day.
So this year I decided to follow up the humble pie and goodwill with a request that I really wanted. To see my kids being free from being slaves of tech. To actually spend some quality time with them, where their eyes are experiencing life through the senses, not a screen.
“You guys like music, right?”
“Who doesn’t, dad?”
“And you like concerts?”
“That’s what I want for Father’s Day. For the four of us to go to a concert. I’ll take care of the tickets, you guys just worry about taking the evening off.”
My daughter and fifteen-year-old got excited, but the eldest, having reached the age of cynicism, wasn’t so quick to jump on the bandwagon. “Wait a minute, you want us to go see one of your ol’ school bands, huh?”
The enthusiasm of the two younger ones dropped like a cell to the ground.
“Now kids, whose day is it supposed to be? Don’t be selfish,” their mother chimed in.
“Ok, dad, who we gonna see? That pitty guy?”
“Pitty? You’re tellin’ me Brad Pitty has a band?!”
They were used to my cheesy sense of humor, now just waiting to find out which ol’ fogy I was going to drag them to see.
“No, not Tom Petty, although that would be friggin’ awesome. No, we can choose someone you’re all into. My only condition is, no cellphones.”
And just like that they instantly regretted asking me what I wanted, wishing they could just go back in time and get me the Old Spice and ties. Hell, they would have even chosen Petty over given up their cells. But my card had already been played, so they were stuck with doing what dad wanted for a change.
They moped around all Sunday, their faces so low they might as well have been dragging them along with their shoes, nearly coming to tears by evening when they had to hand over the devices in exchange for lighters.
“What are we supposed to do with these?” the fifteen-year-old asked.
“He wants us to get high like hippies before the show,” the older one snarked. “You know, since we’re gonna be the only ones there without cellphones.”
“Ah, busting out a lil’ cheese whiz like your ol’ pop, huh?” I countered. “Nah, the only high we’re gonna be getting tonight is natural. Stuff these bad boys in your pocket, we’ll be makin’ use of ‘em later.”
And with that we were out the door, kissing mom goodbye and leaving her with all electronics.
Felt good to be king for a day.
The band the kids had chosen to see weren’t half bad, as I had heard some of their tracks being played here and there. I had gotten us front row seats, and as the venue filled up I imparted a little ol’ fart wisdom on my bored offspring, whether they wanted to hear it or not.
“Back when I was your age we’d go to concerts to feel the artists, as they would us. Nowadays it’s all so plastic, distant, like going to a zoo and gawking. No real interaction. I don’t know how they do it. How they can force themselves to perform with excitement when they’re just staring out at a sea of pocket cameras.”
“It’s called evolution, dad,” my know-it-all seventeen-year-old replied. “Every generation goes through it.”
“Yeah, but yours took something that was supposed to advance us and hurled us back to the stone age. We were better off drawing stick figures on a cave wall. Pretty soon humankind will be a bunch of introverts, living nothing but a digital life through a lens in their eye.”
The lights in the arena went down, a drum beat now giving rise, the crowd going wild.
With a hometown greeting from the lead singer the audience got even more excited, and when the stage lights lit up the band the reaction was nearly deafening.
My kids transformation from sulking to totally enthralled happened quicker than I had expected, getting sucked into the performance before the first go-round of the chorus, no filter, no cellphone to act as a barrier.
By the second delivery of the chorus the band had spotted us, the lead singer and his two flanking guitar mates making their way over.
Not even a foot away, it was like we were getting our own private show, my boys looking back at me with such elation, my little girl, so captivated she was frozen in place.
It must have been like 3D, no, make that 4D to them, so close we could see the beads of sweat beginning to form on the faces. Hell, so close we could even see the fillings in the lead singer’s mouth as he bent over to serenade us.
They made it a point to come back over to us for at least a few bars of every song that followed, and when they got to their soft ballad I had the kids pull out their lighters, guiding them to strike that flame and hold it up high.
Like a beacon we had once again drew the band in, these young artists eager to give all they had to the only four souls among thousands who were there to connect on a personal level, not through a screen.
By the time the band got to their last track, their biggest hit, they had security lead us up to the stage to be part of the show. The boys were even encouraged to play a few notes on the guitars, while my little princess and I sang a few verses with the lead singer.
This was more than a facebook post, a youtube clip, it was an experience that would stay with us for the rest of our lives.
And yes, with all those cells pointing at us we ended up indeed going viral, even making it onto the news and getting interviewed on a couple of morning talk shows.
Going viral. Ironic to reach such a modern aspiration when all I was trying to do was have us experience a feeling of yesterday. Back when I was growing up they’d call this a full circle moment.
As for my family, we call it The Experience.
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