Friday, July 24, 2009
'How Does It Feeeeeeel?'
In my continuing quest to find ways to connect with Noe, I've hit on music. I've mentioned the bike, which he continues to happily obsess over, and lately it seems Noe has taken a liking to music. I've put together a collection of jazz CD's for the player in his room so whenever he finishes up his therapy, he can unwind with some Miles Davis, John Coltrane or Thelonious Monk. Every time I go down to check on him, he's swaying with a big smile on his face.
On Friday, I decided to ramp up the music education by taking him to his first rock concert. The site was Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Md., and the headliner was Bob Dylan. He's touring minor-league baseball stadiums this summer with Willie Nelson and John Mellancamp. Yes, it sounds quirky but they actually make it work.
The reason I chose this show was because it started at 5:30 and kids 14 and under were admitted free. And with general admission seating, we could wander the grounds, even getting a chance to run around on the field in between acts. As you can see by the video below, Noe LOVED kicking off his shoes and feeling the neatly-trimmed grass under his feet.
It turned out to be a longer day than anticipated. Traffic was nightmarish getting up there due to a nasty wreck on the Beltway, which then led to us hitting rush-hour traffic in Baltimore. By the time we got there, we had missed most of Willie Nelson's set, which actually wasn't the worst thing in the world. I just felt bad making Noe sit in the car for four-plus hours (it's supposed to take us 90 minutes to get there). And then a huge thunderstorm blew past, delaying the proceedings for a while.
Mellencamp did his thing, there was another break (and opportunity for Noe to run), and then Dylan came onstage at 9:10.
It was the moment I had been waiting for ever since I bought the tickets in early May, and now I was feeling apprehensive. I was hoping so much that Noe would like this, but it was so late in the day and we'd already had quite an adventure getting to Ripken Stadium that I was fully expecting him to melt down because he was probably tired.
Much to my amazement, he begged me to put him on my shoulders so he could see above everyone (we were down at field level, so there was no seats) and he stayed put for the entire 90-minute, 14-song set that Dylan and his band performed. From the opening riff of "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" to the closing notes of "All Along the Watchtower," he took it all in happily from his perch.
(And if I may play "Dylan Geek" for a moment, it helped that he was in good form -- for him -- and that he picked some cool songs. For someone of his stature, it shouldn't be hard to put on a good show every night, but somehow he always manages to throw a clunker or two on every tour. But luck was on our side Friday night.)
Noe looked so happy that someone sidled up to me late in the show and said: "Indoctrinating your son to Dylan at a young age? You are doing an excellent job as a parent!"
Well, probably not. And whether or not I take Noe to a Dylan concert is irrelevant to how I measure up as a dad. But I think Noe appreciated the quality time we got to spend together. And I certainly appreciated finding another way to reach out to Noe, not to mention the indelible memories I now own.