There was a time, in the evenings, when the TV would come rolling out of some commercial for paper plates with farm animal faces and smash directly into the music. Up would pop The Fresh Beat Band doing one of their tunes and real joy would come waltzing down the walls like happy ghosts crawling out of the old lead paint.
I’d be there, standing on some Dr. Seuss books, a glass of wine in my hand/ the first sexy volts of sip number one rippling down through my veins, and here comes the band, right on schedule. And my two and a half year old daughter, Violet, would just drop whatever she was doing right then. I’m not lying; I’ve seen the sweet girl drop a Triceratops onto the top of a jumbo jet parked down on the carpet with the stone-cold quickness; not caring who might have survived the crash; not giving a crap if they were all burning alive in a lake of jet fuel, the dinosaur chomping his way through the crispy carnage.
She would drop it all when that band came on.
So, it became this thing for me too. After a long day, I came to feast on that moment each evening when the old familiar lip-synching washed over my little girl, and her limbs began to move unconsciously/spastically even, as the music seeped inside her world and made her crazy giddy. I’d watch her pump her little fist in the air as each of the Fresh Beat Band people called out their name in the song.
I would swish some wine around, letting it slash up against the seawalls of my cheeks: feeling it exploding and spraying all over the sleeping scars back in there; new wine dribbling down over a time when orthodontists didn’t really didn’t care if they left a bit of barbed wire way back in some zitty kid’s gob here or there/ now and then.
And oh how my little girl would jump so high with happiness.
“Look Daddy, Fwesh Bee Ban! Itsa Fwesh Bee Ban!”
“Yeah, baby, there they are!” I’d tell her. “There’s your band alright!”
Halfway through the show maybe I should have gotten sick of it but I never did because she never did. I had my glass of wine. She had her songs. I came to understand the beauty of it all. I came to watch the re-runs the same way she watched them, with not even the faintest look of disappointment in her gleaming eyes; as if the episode was writing itself, right there in real-time, right before our eyes.
This went on for months. Many months. Until one day I stood there with my stupid wine glass, waiting for the song, for the music to start,and when it did she just looked up at me and said, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse?”
As if that was some sort of question that I could answer. And that was that.
I kept trying, but it didn’t matter, it never got any better. The more you want the old moments, the more you’ll never have them again. I kept showing up in the playroom at the old time, sipping at my glass the way I always had, but it was useless. The Fresh Beat Band were done for. She killed them off with her whimsical gun that shoots imagination hollow-points into the fatty hearts of dads like me.
The other day, three tickets arrived in the mail. Fresh Beat Band tickets. I’d forgot all about them.
I ordered them way back then. Back when the beats were fresh. Back before she ever let go of something for the very first time.
Songs for the Road: 25 Grownup Tunes that your kids will like, too!