Scotty’s Lament

The Connells – Scotty’s Lament

Tonight I am taking my twelve-year-old daughter to her first concert (we have decided not to count the time we took her to see The Wiggles when she was almost three nor the time when she was six and staying with my sister who took her along to see Steel Pulse at an outdoor show, since she doesn’t remember either one). Another one of my sisters took her son to The Who for his first concert and friends have taken their kids with them to all manner of shows.

Before having kids, if I thought about it in the abstract, I imagined that I would influence my children’s tastes in music and they would be the coolest kids in school. For a while when they were very young, this was not far off the mark. I drove the car and controlled the stereo. I picked out the DVDs they watched and picked ones with soundtracks I liked (did you know there’s a surprising number of Ramones songs in Scooby-Doo movies?). But once they started taking the bus to school and hanging around with their peers, my music became something your parents listened to and not what they wanted to hear. I tried to bridge the gap for a while, making them CDs with songs I liked that got radio airplay, but currently there’s not a lot of crossover.

So tonight’s concert is my daughter’s favorite and I’m just accompanying her because she’s too young to go unsupervised. I am going to try hard not to embarrass her because I remember the one and only time I had a parent with me at a show.

I was in college in the Philadelphia suburbs and while I went to concerts in the city as often as I could, the last train left 30th St. Station right around midnight. If you missed it, you had to take an infrequent subway out through a rough neighborhood to the high speed line, which ran until 2am but only about once an hour. Most of the shows I went to were in theaters or sports stadiums because shows at clubs were always going to end after the last train. Every once in a while I could convince a friend with a car to come along but it was tough and the whole needing an ID or being 21 thing didn’t help.

This one time though, it just so happened that my dad was in Philadelphia for business and was staying at a hotel just two blocks from the Chestnut Cabaret. I had planned to meet up with a friend and her boyfriend to see The Connells there and now my dad was going to want to visit with me. I hemmed and hawed but finally decided to turn the situation to my advantage. His hotel room had two double beds so I figured we could hang out in the evening, have dinner, then I’d go to the show with my friends, stay overnight at the hotel with my dad, then we could do breakfast in the morning before his conference started. I didn’t expect him to say that he would want to come along. I tried to talk him out of it but it was just a club show, no seats, I don’t think I had bothered to get tickets in advance, so I couldn’t see how I could refuse to let him join us.

So dad and I went to see The Connells. He stayed at a table on the side with my friend’s boyfriend while the two of us hit the floor. He didn’t last all that long before the combination of age and business travel convinced him that he ought to head back to the hotel. I made my way to the hotel after the show and we spent the next morning hanging out before I headed back to campus.

What’s so embarrassing about that? It wasn’t at the show, it was the years afterward that I had to endure my dad bringing it up. The same exact sentences. “Remember that time we went to see, what was that band, oh yeah, The Con-nells (he always pronounced it as if it were two separate words)? And you two were down on the floor, I could only make out your heads bopping around from time to time so I left. Do you still go to see The Connells?” I am not kidding, for years, like ten, this same conversation took place every single time I spoke to him. Every.Time. If he was visiting and another person was around he would never miss the opportunity to regale them with the story about the time we went to a concert together. If I happened to tell him I was going to a concert he would immediately ask if I was going to see The Connells. (For the record, I saw them three times over the years, not the hundred and ten you would think if you listened to my dad.)

I spoke to my dad last weekend and mentioned that I was taking my daughter to a concert tonight. It’s been 25 years since that show so he doesn’t still remember the name of the band we saw but he started in, “Oh, I remember you used to go to concerts all the time.” I quickly changed the subject. Lesson learned. I will let my daughter be the one to remind me, if she wants to, about the time we went to a concert together.