Tuesday, August 13, 2013

P.S. Any free soap?

“I’ve just been so busy...”

“It’s crazy with summer and the kids’ schedules…”

“I know…have a few ideas jotted down….”

“Well, now we’re getting ready for vacation so maybe in a few weeks...”

“I actually am just now ramping up with a couple new clients, but I started one…”

For several weeks now, I have been half-heartedly answering questions from my readership of about five or so family and friends asking:

“What’s going on with the blog?” 

“Where’s the free soap?”

I would come up with some five cent excuse and quickly change the subject to summer camps or my fledgling tennis career or whatever popped into my mind first.  But the fact of the matter is I’ve been uninspired. 

As I own that fact out loud, I think of one of my mother’s favorite lines while we were growing up.  When my brother, sister or I would march into the kitchen to complain about the lackluster entertainment my mother was providing, she would momentarily turn to us, lower her cigarette and say:

“Only boring people get bored.”

Now I can’t help but associate the two. 

If only boring people get bored, then it must be only uninspiring people that get uninspired.

Am I both boring AND uninspiring?


And then my Jeff had an idea:

“So what are we doing for your birthday, baby?”  He asked casually, on my birthday-eve.

“I don’t know.  What do you have planned?”  I snarked back as I flipped through a magazine on the couch. 

How could he possibly not have a ticker tape parade scheduled to run down Main Street at high noon in my honor? 

*Readers note: boring and uninspiring people tend to be a little bitchy.  At least this one does.

“Well, we could go out to dinner?  Maybe sushi?”

“I don’t know if I want sushi.”  I sighed.

*The bored and uninspired can be quite annoying, too.

Jeff pressed on.  “Someone at the gym was telling me that there have been some pretty fun groups playing at the Ventura County Fair.  I think they said Styx, Kool N The Gang, bands like that.”

“No way!  This week?”  I could hardly contain myself.  

I have long loved a Grand Illusion and have been known to Get Down On It when duty called.  And let’s face it, when it’s Ladies Night, the feeling is always right. 

I dropped my magazine on the couch and grabbed my phone from the coffee table.

In less than five seconds, I was staring at my destiny in the screen.  It looked like this:

And less than 24 hours later, I was sitting among throngs of the Ventura County elite, staring across a plastic dining table at this:

He ultimately consumed about 45 cents worth of this $12 turkey leg. 

Funnel cake, corn dogs, deep fried twinkies, chili-cheese fries and, in Nick’s case, a turkey leg bigger than his head… a ferris wheel ride, fun house, and a five-story slide… a few attempts at breaking some bottles with some baseballs...and several turns on the Cliff Hanger (when Jeff realized this particular ride operator was ignoring his primary responsibility of collecting tickets from patrons who were NOT wearing the yellow, “Pay One Price” carnival wristband, it quickly became Vince and Nick’s favorite ride)...all of this and more filled two hours of County Fair magic that passed in an instant!  

We were 20 minutes 'til show time before we knew it!

After navigating through concert goers, some young and some very old, some able bodied and some less so (did I mention it was “Seniors and Persons With Disabilities Day”?), we tucked ourselves away in the upper, left-hand corner of the grand stands.  The grand stands that were positioned adjacent to instead of opposite the concert stage.

“We’re not even going to be able to see them.”  Jeff started. 

He was not happy with my initial decision to take a seat in the stands versus joining the concert goers who, like us, opted not to wait in line for two hours, thereby eliminating any hope of securing a white folding chair. They now stood on the dirt.

“We’ll see them fine.  We can see the front of the stage.”  This was kind of true.  We could see the very front sliver of the stage from the side.  “And look,” I gestured toward the enormous digital screen that had been erected next to the stage.  “A clear shot of the jumbo-tron.” 

*Readers note: As an underemployed parent, it’s important for me to set the bar low for my kids but always do so in the most positive way. And, as lowbrow as it may have been, it was Vince and Nick’s first concert experience.  I needed them to be fired up about it.  

“The sound isn’t going to be any good.”  Jeff continued.

“Honey, I am sure the sound will be fine.”

The four of us looked down on the crowd that had filled the rows and rows of white folding chairs and most of any open space that was left over.  Save a few seats in our little corner, the grand stands were packed.  All of us eagerly anticipating the thrice decorated (’82, ’83, and ’84) American Music Awards Favorite Band, Duo or Group - Pop/Rock!

“Look at that guy in the motorized wheelchair!”  I commanded, full of enthusiasm.

“Where, mommy?”  Vince asked.

I pointed down over the tops of all the heads seated below us in the stands to the area immediately in front of the stands where a man in a black cowboy hat was zipping through the crowd on his red, Little Rascal scooter.  He fishtailed a few times and did a 360° as he positioned himself for the show.

“There!"  I pointed again.  "Down on the dirt.”  It was hard to be more specific.

“In the black cowboy hat?”  Vince spotted him first.


“I see him!  That wheelchair seems fast!”  Nick chimed in.

“I know!  He sure seems excited for the show!”

“He does!”  Vince smiled.

We continued to monitor the crowd as more people gathered, standing around the sea of folding chairs.

“Nick and I are going down there.”  Jeff finally said.  “Is that ok?”  Jeff might love live music more than me.  I respected that he had to make the very most of this experience.

“Go ahead.  We’re fine.”  I told him.

Vince snuggled in closer to me in the stands as the breeze started to blow a little stronger and a little colder.

When the band started to take the stage, the crowd responded accordingly.  Vince and I joined in the clapping, hooting and hollering.  Well, he mostly just rolled his eyes at me as I clapped, hooted and hollered.

Then security opened the area immediately between the stage and the first row of folding chairs.  The crowd rushed forward, including Jeff with Nick atop his shoulders and our cowboy atop his Little Rascal scooter.

I took a deep breath.  My eight year old son was officially in “the pit”. 

“Look at Daddy and Nick!”  I told Vince.

He looked down and smiled.

Daryl Hall and John Oates took the stage and kicked off their set list with Out of Touch.  The audience loved it.  Mr. Hall then announced he was a Family Man.  I could see Jeff bouncing Nick around on his shoulders as he danced.

I decided Jeff was onto something.  “Vince, should we go down there by Daddy and Nick?  It won’t be as cold down there.”


“Alright, we’ll go down after this song.”

We made our way to about three people back from Jeff and Nick to Say It Isn’t So but as night fell and the hits continued, we danced our way up to their side. Throughout the concert, Jeff and I traded off holding one, then the other son on one, then the other hip.  It’s amazing how energizing great music can be. 

We all sang and danced together through the first encore which featured two of my personal favorites: Rich Girl and You Make My Dreams.  

The perfect ending to a perfect night.   

As we drove home, I thought about how much fun the night was.  I guess in hindsight, I knew it would be.  I mean what kind of tool can’t have fun at a Hall & Oates concert? 

What I didn’t see coming was the much needed perspective, dare I say inspiration, the night would bring.  While there will always be new challenges as the boys grow-up and assert their independence, there will also be new opportunities for us to experience more of ourselves and more of life together as a family.  

I’d like to dedicate this post to an old, dear friend who is never boring.  Welcome home from eastern Europe, DC!  Here's your soap!

Different hat, same spirit.