(This is my “Undercurrents” column for The News Herald this week.)
PANAMA CITY BEACH — If you claim you never stood in front of a mirror and played air guitar or lip-synced into a hairbrush, pen or other object, then I’m going to (generously) suggest that you might be fibbing.
If you grew up in rock ’n’ roll age, that kind of activity is a given.
Me, I’ve wanted to be a rock star since before David Cassidy had a TV series. That’s a long, long time. However, I also have the good sense to keep away from karaoke machines, because no matter how long a time has passed, my singing skills have not improved.
So it comes as something of a sense of pride to say my son is a rock star. At least, that’s what I tell him, and anyone else who will listen. He’s the vocalist and co-writer of songs for “The Offer,” a band that released its second CD (this time a 5-song EP titled “Adrift”) just last weekend.
The other band members are Mike Jordan (guitar), Mikhail Cintgran (bass/vocals), Tristan Reynolds (guitar), and Chase Hopkins (drums). The band has experienced a couple of lineup changes over the past few years, but has maintained its music and style (which they tell me is rock/post hardcore), as even a casual listen shows.
Listening to the new EP, particularly a song that references Doctor Who and “writing in her journal of impossible things,” my brain took an unexpected leap: I wondered how or if my life choices had reflected my father’s childhood dreams.
It’s a reasonable question, and one I think fathers and sons (and mothers and daughters) have mulled since time began. I’m sure it’s a question that occurs regularly to people in middle age, able to look at the generations before and after them simultaneously.
Dad didn’t want me to be a writer. He wanted me to be an electrician or a chemist, get a job in manufacturing, make a living wage. When I was bringing home Ray Bradbury novels from the middle school library, he was supplying me with Radio Shack electrical kits and chemistry sets from Kmart and giving me reading assignments in science texts.
(I remember debates with my son over his choice of study in high school and college — Theatre — and whether he could make a living wage with that kind of degree.* Sometimes, “living” is less about the wage and more about the life; that’s a lesson with which I’m still coming to grips.)
And yet, much later on, after I had established what became my career and started writing novels and short stories on the side, Dad started writing a regular history column for his local paper, The Tri-City Ledger in Flomaton, Ala., and wrote or co-wrote books on local history. He liked to joke that he was going to be me when he grew up.
I can say with certainty that I am not going to be a rockstar when I grow up. Still, I wondered if Dad had ever fantasized about being a writer in his youth — typed an air typewriter in front of the mirror, or lip-synced an interview into a tape recorder.
Probably not, now that I put it that way.
* And let’s not forget how upset my daughter became after a career counselor at her school noted her high scores in aptitude tests and suggested she might pursue a career in journalism. I think she still cries when she thinks about that.