(Site news: did you see all the fanworks were posted on Saturday? There is fan art, fan fiction, audio of a song, song lyrics, and a fantastic fanmix/Youtube playlist, and a ton of memes. Please go leave comments for your fellow fans if you enjoy what you see/hear! The directory is a new permanent page on the site: http://daron.ceciliatan.com/fanworks -ctan)
That night, after the baby was asleep (and Melissa too, I think) Remo and I went into the studio and played until our fingers were tired. We traded guitars for a while and when he took his back from me he shook his head a little.
“What, did I warp it or something?” I asked.
“No no, just, every time we play together you teach me something.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Okay, you don’t like the word teach? You open my ears to some possibility I wouldn’t have found on my own.”
I shrugged. “I’m young. I get around. I’ve lost track of how many different bands and how many different styles I’ve played in the past eighteen months.”
“I assure you I’m just a great copycat who picks stuff up easily.”
Remo snorted. “I assure you you’re an original who is overly modest.”
“No one likes an egomaniac.” I stood and stretched, then popped my knuckles one at a time. “When’s rehearsal start for real?”
“Tomorrow. We’re at that same place.”
I knew the place he meant. “You’re not big on change.”
“Don’t fix what ain’t broke.”
“I’ve got a thing I have to do in town,” I said. “Not tomorrow, in a couple of days.”
“Not totally sure, but I am assuming we won’t be going real late anyway?”
“Nah.” He settled his guitar into a case instead of leaving it on a stand, and then carried it into the house and put it by the front door. I guess so he wouldn’t forget it.
I didn’t think there was anything that would make me forget my guitar but I didn’t have as many things on my mind.
Tomorrow started a bit earlier than would have been traditional in the past. Remember, Remo was the guy who originally taught me if your job’s peak hours are 8pm to 1am, and you don’t even have to be there until three or four in the afternoon, why the hell would you get up six hours before that? So you can sit around the house with your thumb up your butt but feel morally superior to people who get a sensible amount of sleep?
But infants don’t keep the same schedule as adults, or so I learned. Infants also don’t have words yet so crying is about the only way they can express themselves. I can imagine that would be mighty frustrating.
At one point in the morning, the baby was crying and I thought to myself, that sound is the baby crying, and then I went back to sleep. I’m not sure how I slept through the sound of a baby crying but maybe knowing his mother was right there calmed my brain? I think evolutionarily humans are not supposed to be able to sleep through that but maybe I’m lacking that gene or something.
I eventually did wake up reasonably early–after all, my body was three hours ahead–and wandered into the kitchen where Remo was walking back and forth with Ford on his shoulder, patting him on the back and babbling, and Ford was ignoring all attempts at placation and was crying non-stop.
At least, until he saw me, and then he stopped crying immediately and stared.
Remo turned around, “Oh, so it’s you he’s so interested in.” The problem with turning around was that now Ford couldn’t see me, so he started to cry again, until Remo shifted him to the front so we could all see each other.
Melissa was sitting at one corner of the dining room table with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. “He really likes Daron,” she said.
“I’m just something different to look at.”
“You want to hold him?” Remo had perfected a kind of rhythmic jostling that I guess was necessary for infant health somehow. I didn’t want to betray my ignorance and ask if that was, like, helpful to their lung development or something? From the volume of Ford’s crying my guess was his lungs were doing just fine.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said, exchanging a glance with Melissa. She and I were on the same page about that. Handing the baby to the 23-year-old who hasn’t had coffee yet: bad idea.
Right. It was March, which meant I’d gotten away with passing another birthday without anyone noticing.
“We should get going in about forty-five minutes,” Remo said.
“Works for me.” I set about scrounging myself up something to eat, namely a single-serving can of Chunky Sirloin Burger soup microwaved until it was not really what you’d call hot. Then I took a quick shower. When I re-emerged from the bathroom, Melissa and Ford were sitting in a chair in the shade of the house on the deck facing the pool. I think she was feeding him but I didn’t want to look to closely in case she was. I just gave her a quick wave as I crossed the patio to the studio to get Ovation #2. (Flip had already taken #1.)
In the garage I discovered Remo had bought a new SUV. This one had a better safety rating, he explained, and had more room for a ‘child safety seat.’ I assumed that was the same thing I would have called a ‘car seat.’ At the moment there was no seat installed, though, and I put my guitar case in the back seat.
When we were about halfway to the place I came right out and asked, “So how’s fatherhood?”
“Best thing I ever did,” he said without hesitation. “It’s like a trip, though, every minute of the day. It’s mind-bending.”
“Yeah. I can’t really explain it. Maybe it’s hormonal. I don’t know. But it’s like that little guy just…blinks his eyes or makes a noise and my brain just goes ‘wow.'”
“Not what I expected.”
“Is it going to be hard being separated? I mean, to be on the road?”
Remo tapped on the steering wheel as we took an exit. “You ask all the easy ones, don’t you.”
“I don’t know. Probably. Did you ever have a kitten or a puppy?”
“No. Claire didn’t want to clean up after a pet. Said cleaning up after all of us was bad enough.”
“Hm, never mind then.”
“Never mind what?”
“I was going to say it was like getting a new kitten or puppy only times a thousand.” He pulled the truck to a stop at a red light and waited for a van to go by before making the right on red.
“Yeah, and don’t let Melissa hear you comparing the baby to a puppy.”
“I am pretty much treating him like a small, unknown dog, I guess,” I admitted. “It’s the closest point of comparison I have.”
“Well, you know, they can’t talk, and you have to feed them and take care of their shit… I guess a baby really is kind of like a puppy.” We pulled into the parking lot and I recognized the berm of grass along the two story building that housed the rehearsal space and the band’s offices. Remo put the gearshift into park. “But seriously, don’t let Melissa hear you compare the baby to a puppy.”
“I am not the one who, twice, in the last five minutes, compared the baby to a puppy.”
“Yeah, well,” Remo said with a somewhat grumbling tone as he got out and shut his door. Then he banged his fist against the glass. “Dammit.”
“Forgot that damn guitar.”
I did not laugh. I wanted to. And I probably smiled a bunch. But laughing would have been rude. Right?
(I admit I never actually listened to Amy Grant when I was growing up because all I knew about her was she was the “Christian” singer so I assumed her music was super tame and boring and that was when I was judgmental about that sort of thing. As it is, I’m sorry to say this song–which went to Number One, by the way–does little to change that impression because it is indistinguishable from a million other female pop songs of the time. But it has a kind of interesting story behind it. For one thing, I think they meant it to sound like a tame, toned-down Janet Jackson: for this album and this song in particular Grant and her team aimed squarely at the mainstream American sound and succeeded perfectly at it. The guy who wrote the music would go on to write 40 #1 hits in his career. Meanwhile the story goes that Amy Grant was having trouble writing cliched “romantic” love song lyrics, but then was singing “oh baby baby” to her six-week old daughter one day and realized she was onto something. So all the respect in the world for a woman artist and her success, and the lesson that sometimes the simple songs are the best. -d.)