Disclaimer: Sorry about the heavy stuff up front. But sometimes if you slog through shit you can find a golden rainbow. Or something like that. It gets lighter, I promise!
My 38th birthday was in August. My son’s 8th was the week before. It’s fun having them so close together because it feels like the party never stops. But it’s also a difficult time for me because my father passed away almost 2 years ago. Although the day he passed was in November, it was around this time that he began to seriously decline. My son’s 6th birthday party was postponed because we had to call the ambulance to take my dad to the hospital and things only got worse from there. Unfortunately late July makes me a bit melancholy. The past 22 months have been more difficult than I could have ever imagined. I had never lost a loved one THAT close to me before. Most of my grandparents were deceased before I came into the world and the one grandfather who remained passed on shortly after I joined the family. I didn’t really know what grief was. But once I found out, I didn’t like it.
The biggest thing I can say about this process is that you are never the same person you were before your loved one died. There was me, pretty much the same me I had been for 36 years, one second before my dad passed away and then there’s the me the second after he went on to his eternal reward. Completely different person in 0-2 seconds. Anybody who tells you “time heals all wounds” is a fucking liar. Being without your loved one never gets easier. It’s just a new reality you have to get used to. You have to change and adapt and figure out how life makes sense without that person in it every day. I often thought of myself like a caterpillar. I felt as if I was wrapped in a cocoon- confusion, emptiness and despair enveloping me. I knew I would be okay eventually, but I wasn’t sure when or what I would be when I was “done”.
It’s taken quite a while but I can honestly say that, although I’m not quite a butterfly, I’m hatching a bit more every day and breaking through my cocoon to see the beautiful, wonderful world around me. It’s like how I imagine coming out of a coma would be. When you’ve been numb and unaware for that long, you want to feel everything- fully and completely. Sometimes I feel manic- like I can’t laugh loud enough or hug my husband or children tight enough. I have a new “Joie de Vivre” that I find liberating, and intense.
I guess that’s how I came to find myself on stage the Tuesday before my birthday dancing with Lords of Acid in front of all manner of scantily clad women and tattooed men. First let me say that Lords of Acid was one of my favorite bands in college. I was a little bit of an alternative kind of girl but was mostly in the closet about those kinds of tendencies. For those of you who don’t know their music, Lords of Acid is acid house techno with hard, grinding beats and lyrics mostly about dirty, nasty sex. And I stored their cassette tape next to my boom box with the likes of Simon and Garfunkel and yes, even Bette Middler (who is a fairly raunchy broad in her own right so I’m sure she didn’t mind). Lords of Acid is the type of music you would hear at a rave (even though I’ve never been to one) while getting out of your mind high on more than one psychedelic drug (which I’ve never done). Songs with names like “Rough Sex” or “The Crablouse” or “Spank My Booty” on albums titled “Lust” and “Heaven Is An Orgasm” were played mostly in my little white, 2-door hatchback Chevy Spectrum with a decal that read “SPORT” on the side (so hardcore) or in the apartments of boyfriends. I was never lucky enough to see Lords of Acid in person.
And then, for some unknown reason, one day I searched for LOA on Facebook. The very first entry that came up was an advertisement for their appearance in the “Sextreme Ball” along with My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult (A Daisy Chain 4 Satan, Sex On Wheelz) and a couple of not very well known death metal bands. And they were going to be within an hour of my hometown… two days before my birthday. It must have been fate, no? I planted a bug in my husband’s ear. We both grinned about how awesome it would be but then told ourselves it was a weeknight, the kids were back in school, and whatever other grown-up, 40 year old excuses we could come up with.
And then came his e-mail a week before the show. It said, “Play me then call me”. Attached was an mp3 file named “Happy Birthday”. I clicked and was delighted to hear the opening acapella line of “I Sit On Acid” begin playing. I smiled listening to “Darling come here, f*ck me up the…” and then the pounding beat kick in. It meant we were going to be bad. I called him giggling. I had all kinds of plans swimming around in my head and only a few days to execute them. A couple of days later I visited an adult store in our local area. I had threatened to buy a penis shaped temporary tattoo with which to decorate my husband’s arm but alas, they didn’t have one and I had to settle for a black panther… and a couple of things for me. I was determined that this night was not going to be about recapturing youth, but we were going to be people we never were, never have been. We’ll be us, but more bad ass! After all, he started it.
So, we showed up at the club. Arnie with his fake tattoo and me in my “naughty school girl” girl outfit- complete with pig tails, mini skirt, knee high leather boots and garter. We fit right in. Although, our sideways glances at each other let us know we were kind of out of our element and not entirely comfortable. A PBR later (again, not our normal beverage of choice but it was big and cheap) and we were a little more relaxed. And we were definitely selling it. Even though the first band almost made blood gush out of our ears, we hung by the bar like regulars. The second band’s most “famous” song was a barrage of swear words all “sung” at lightening speed. We nodded along and looked at each other. “Cool.” we seemed to say without words. When the Thrill Kill Kult came on, the fun really started. I danced to the beat and used my husband like my own personal stripper pole. A passerby must have liked it because he smacked my ass as he walked behind us. I told Arnie and his testosterone immediately went into overdrive. “Who??!” he demanded to know. When I pointed out the dude decked out in black with chains and studs all over, many, many piercings, long, dyed black hair and freakishly light blue colored contacts, the testosterone magically dissipated. “Well, Satan can have some fun too. As long as he doesn’t do it again…” was Arnie’s very measured response.
During the break, I had an in depth conversation about techno music with an adorable teenager who had never been to a concert before and who I’m pretty sure was brought there by his grandmother because I saw her sitting in the parking lot biding her time. I also fielded many questions from a guy who wanted to know if this other guy in the crowd was Groovie Mann from Thrill Kill Kult. Maybe he thought I was a groupie and had in depth knowledge of the man. I did not. He moved along shortly after my rather tall and broad husband came back from the bar with our PBRs and proceeded to hover over me possessively. This was shaping up to be the best night ever! As a “thank you for being so awesome” present, I went over to the table where the local rock radio station was set up and snagged Arnie a few of their “pin-up” calendars. Although, the girls featured each month looked less like Pamela Anderson and more like strung out run-aways getting their picture taken inside Uncle Rico’s van. I felt like calling their mothers.
Thankfully that’s when Lords of Acid took the stage. I forgot all about the run-aways, the techno loving teenager next to me, “Satan” the ass-smacker and the fact that I was turning 38 two days later. As soon as the music began, my husband took one look at my face and said “Come on…” gathered his calendars, grabbed my hand and made his way from our comfortable viewing spot in the back to the front row. I couldn’t have been happier. I danced, and jumped, and sweated and sometimes came up for air. I pointed purposefully at the hot bass player and he pointed back at me. I turned around to see my husband grinning from ear to ear and motioning for me to get closer to the stage. I would for a moment but always strutted my way back to him like a cat on the prowl. I felt like I WAS high. Maybe our PBRs were spiked. Hell, I didn’t care. I just wanted to go on dancing and throwing my hair around. I was completely oblivious to everything around me, including the girl fight which resulted in at least one of them getting kicked out. (Arnie filled me in later. He doesn’t miss much.)
So, when the music stopped and LOA left the stage I was a bit sad. Until I saw one of their roadies pointing to girls in the crowd and telling them to come up on stage. Suddenly he was in front of me and his thick finger was aimed in my direction. “Wha????” was the look I had on my face. He motioned for me to go around the barricade and said “Yeah, come on up!”. Visions of my children, the PTA at school, my church, my MOM flashed through my head. No, I couldn’t. My husband was pushing me to go when all of a sudden out of nowhere came a woman who literally grabbed me and said, “I’m 40!! We’re GOING!!!”. Well, okay. If I MUST! As soon as I got on stage I knew where I was headed. To say I “danced” with the hot bass player is overstating my movement slightly. Dry humping would probably be a more accurate description. I searched the crowd for my husband. To my horror, when I found him he was smiling like the Cheshire Cat and holding the video camera. Holy Hell! I never wanted it documented. Too late! I reminded myself to threaten him later. Right then he just looked too damned cute. I pointed at him and continued to cling to the bass player’s ripped jeans clad leg. All of us up there were dirty, sweaty and nasty and it was the best birthday present I could have ever asked for. This may sound odd, but it made me think of my dad.
My dad loved having a good time. He loved life. And I know he would never want me sitting at home wallowing in sorrow and grief. I’m not sure he’d want me on stage in a school girl outfit getting low in front of a bass player for the amusement of a club full of strangers either, but he’d appreciate my enthusiasm. My point is this… life does go on. It has to. Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. So why not make today the best damn day it can be? You don’t have to act crazy and ridiculous every day, but make sure whatever you do, you do it with passion! There’s nothing wrong with laughing loudly or hugging tightly or crying until snot runs down your face if you feel like it. I think Jim Valvano said it best in his speech while receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the ESPYs in 1993. He said we should do three things every day. “Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
So I’m going to embrace that philosophy and keep that feeling of complete abandon with me. Being free to dance like an idiot and not care is an amazing thing. As I danced off stage, LOA began their final song which was “I Sit On Acid”, the song Arnie had e-mailed me. I hugged him tightly and he shook his head. I interpreted that to mean “You’re a nut case and I love it!” instead of “How did I end up with this nut case?”. The evening was over but the laughing was not. I immediately took off my boots when I got in the car, my body suddenly reminding me that I was going to be 38. I thought about that number. Who cares? It’s the attitude that matters. My sister sent me a refrigerator magnet for my birthday that sums it up perfectly… “Ever notice that ‘What the hell’ is always the right decision?” Unless someone asks you to put a bottle rocket in your ass and then in that case, running away screaming is the right decision.
Copyright 2010 by Me