Slightly revised from column previously published in 2007.
Other than being with their children, I think the thing parents like next best is being away from them. And one recent Saturday night, it was one of those most rare occasions when the atoms of the cosmos apparently aligned just right to allow my wife and I a night out, an ENTIRE night out without the boys.It was a night that about didn’t happen, though. Kids and attitudes – need I say more? And it never takes long for attitudes to infect the entire family. So, by the end of the afternoon, Mona and I had retreated to our neutral comers to pout, the beautiful fall afternoon slipping away and with it our plans for the Flatrock Music Festival and seeing one of our favorite groups, The Subdudes.
She made the first attempt at reconciliation, which was, of course, rebuffed because she hadn’t addressed some petty grievance of my inner child. I made the second attempt and her inner child rebuffed mine in return. Finally, we both put the rebuffing aside and combined our attitudes to threaten the boys into better behavior and were on our way.
When we got there, admission was more than we thought, and I suggested we head into Hendersonville, get a good meal, catch a movie or stroll the sidewalks hand in hand. But Mona remembered something I didn’t, so we paid and went in.
It was my first visit to the Flatrock festival, a step back in time that jostled my inner hippie awake even if a goodly number of the crowd were card-carrying members of AARP. Of course, The Subdudes are no pups either. Their music is as comfortable as a favorite chair, a soul-soothing blend of blues and rock with a dash of Creole and funk. Their instrumentation and harmonies add a depth most groups just can’t approach.
So how cool, how way cool, it was when we found ourselves crammed in a small log cabin on the festival site and seated less than 20 feet from The Subudes as they performed an unscheduled six-song acoustic set. Suddenly the admission price seemed like a bargain. How cool later to be at the front of the stage for the main show as the roadies set up and then getting to chat a bit with The Subdudes themselves as they adjusted this and that before the show.
I’m sure one of the big reasons we connect to their music is the way it often takes slices of ordinary life and imbues them with a significance, wonder, beauty and hope many people probably don’t comprehend. Just as the rain is wondrous to those living in arid climes, so is normalcy to those whose lives have seen their share of chaos.
With our own lives chaotic as of late, I can’t tell you how badly I needed that night of laughter, of reconnecting with the woman I love so much and am so indebted to. And when I thought the night a bit too expensive, how thankful I am she realized something I had forgotten – sometimes you simply can’t afford not to do the things you can’t afford to do.
Now listening to The Subdudes song “The Rain,” I can’t help but note how much its lyrics capture the nurturing soul Mona was:
The rain is working very hard, It’s got to water every little seed
It’s beautiful and ordinary, Making life seem very good indeed