Monday, August 10, 2009

...The Wrongdoing is in Doing Wrong...

For Daniel.

When I was a kid my dad had a lot of recording equipment in the basement. Old stuff that I don’t even have names for but I remember some big reel to reel thing, some devices with what seemed like billions of buttons and switches and lights. Some speakers the size of small kid, some headphones the size of a small kid’s head. Some big microphones and one little tiny one.


The small one was not a toy but my dad would often grant us permission to play with it on our tape recorder. You remember those old tape recorders that were about a foot long with just the five buttons, and nothing else? One of those.

So one day, I’m in my room and I have my tape recorder on the floor with my microphone wrapped around the handle of a dust mop so I could dance around like Prince and kick the “mic stand” down and flip it back up with my foot. Man, I was good. You should’ve been there. I was entertainment.

After a few high energy numbers, I turned the lights down prepared to do my best soft spotlight performance of Michael Jackson’s “She’s Out of My Life.” I pulled a stool up to the end of the bed and begin to wrap the microphone cord around the bed post as I had done so many times before- tightly, so it would stand up by itself.

There I was: wrap, pull, wrap, pull, wrap, pull, PING!

The cord was around the bed post, but the mic was in my hand which was very, very far away from the bed post. I still remember thinking, “I never wanted to die this way.” But I was sure that I was good as dead.

I found my Dad watching television with my Mom.

“Daddy?”
“Yeah?”
“I’m sorry,” I said, holding out the microphone in one hand and the cord in the other.
He sat up from his recline position on the sofa.
“Angel!” he reached for the pieces, examined them closely and made half-hearted attempt to re-assemble the mic before he gave me one of his patented angry dad faces. “Well? What did you do?”
I told him and waited to see my short life flash before my eyes.

He tossed the pieces on a nearby table. “Okay. You can go.”

My mother seemed more surprised than I was: “That’s it? You’re not going to say anything else?”
My father laughed. “Yeah, that’s it. It’s broken, she confessed and apologized, it was an accident, what else is left?”

My mother makes her “whatever” face and returns her attention to the TV.

I have been officially dismissed.

Some things you don’t learn or recognize the value in until much later in life, but back then I knew exactly what the message was: accountability and responsibility. It’s one thing to make a poor choice, it’s another thing to not accept your role in that choice and the consequences of it.

So, the first thing is to always think before you act. Be smart, consider what could become of your actions and choose wisely, young grasshopper.

But the next thing is to be prepared for what comes next, accept it as it comes, and deal with it accordingly.
Stand up and say, “Father, I chopped down the cherry tree.” – or “I broke one of the microphones” or whatever. Just stand up and say it. And then suck it up and deal with it.

More times than not, you will find people willing to support you in correcting your errors and moving your towards a victory to celebrate.

Years and years later my parents moved. And about 5 years after that, nearly 4 years after my father passed, my mom moved again. We were tossing out old things when I found this old bag of cassette tapes that my dad used to keep in the car but had found its way to the basement with the old LPs and ‘45s.

And I don’t have to tell you how cool it was to find a tape of myself singing Prince and Michael Jackson songs, but it was very cool. I was good. You should’ve been there. I was entertainment!!!
Song stuck in my head: Mazarati "100 MPH"

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