Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

When our sons were in high school, I remember listening to their music and exclaiming that I couldn’t hear a melody.  Just noise.  One son rolled his eyes.  I told him, “When you’re older, you won’t have a single song you’ll remember the lyrics to.”  I continued.  “I  still can sing every word to every song done by the Shirelles”  And, I demonstrated.  Not just the words, but the pronunciation, too... this’s deddaKAYed to the WONEYE luv.  I don’t remember his reaction to this being all that respectful.   

Both men now are in their 30s.  They have wonderful wives and our even more wonderful grandchildren.  Both families seem to thrive on music.  One side in particular has a collection of records, as well as CDs.  You heard me.  Records.  I don’t have records anymore.  They love all music.  I even heard them play Frank Sinatra and others from that era.  I love it.    

Being diplomatic, I said on one visit, “So how come you don’t listen to really good rocking music.  Like Motown.  Songs from the 60s and 70s.

My son said, “Dad, I’m not playing rock music around you and Mom.”

“Why not,” I countered.  “We love that music.”

“That’s just the point, Dad.  Let me set the stage for you.”  I could tell he was getting ready to use some of that condescending attitude he must have inherited from someone.

He said, “One summer I came home from college.  The summer festival featured the Temptations, and you and Mom asked if I wanted to go with you.  I did. I didn’t realize what I was going to experience, and I’m not talking about the vocal group.  More than 4,000 people were sitting in lawn chairs along the riverfront.  I probably was the only one under 40 years old.  And I set back and watched in amazement. As soon as the Temptations came out on stage, no one could possibly have heard them sing.  For two hours, 4,000 Baby Boomers sang every word and every note to every song, at the top of their lungs.”

“Well, son.  What’s wrong with that,” I quipped, as I broke into my rendition of... “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”

“Dad, I’m just getting started.  From the first song, you were all on your feet, dancing and jumping and doing the bump with anyone within three rows of you.  And, you were the worst.  You got in the center aisle – solo – and did the hand motions.”

“OK, OK,” I said.  I could see where that might have been a bit scary.

“No, let me finish,” he said.   “The next day, you came downstairs for breakfast and began singing into a fork. You gyrated into the den, did a little spin, jumped into the air and landed on the couch in what I’m guessing was supposed to be the splits.”

Now, I was irritated.  “So, you mean I can’t even dance and sing in the privacy of my own home.”

“Oh, I’m not criticizing that.  I’m frightened that when I get to be your age, I’ll do the same thing.”

I smiled.  My work here is done.

Date of Blog Story: 
February 5, 2008

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