Ode To Joy: The Girl Who Loved The Fresh Beat BandSerge Bielanko
Maybe her first memory, the one she will look back on decades from now, maybe that was yesterday when I forked out a tenner for the glow stick.
I wouldn’t mind that at all. It would seem to me to be as good a first memory as anything really. The hardcore stuff, the double rainbows and all, kids need more nicks in their kicks to appreciate that kind of thing. They need a few more miles behind them before real life shows up.
And they’re so easy to impress at this age that an overpriced six-color Fresh Beat Band Live In Concert commemorative glow stick seems just about right. Plus, it was attached to the show and all, too.
The show. Her very first concert.
My little girl.
Her mom was in the loo when the Glow Stick Man floated by me in the lobby of the old theater. Violet was being weird/edgy/nervous. It had been a wild ride: from six months ago when I had shelled out for tickets to see this band she was in love with to maybe two months after that, when Violet, for whatever flighty reason, just decided one day that she needed to go ahead and break her daddy’s heart a little by shattering her affinity for all things Fresh, Beat, and Band.
But the thing had crept up the calendar towards us.
And I’m not gonna lie to you here either. About two weeks ago I was hanging out down in my junk drawer when I got hit by a hundred-dollar lightning bolt the second I came across the tickets. They were still pretty much where I’d left them months ago, hibernating underneath some old British Airways boarding passes and a couple of bikini pictures of my wife that were tucked down in there, sizzling like a plate of newborn fajitas.
I started in on Violet then. I went easy at first, not force feeding her old episodes of the show or anything, but just singing a couple lines of some of their songs here and there; in the Honda on the way to the lake; in the morning as I slipped her Backyardigans plastic dish of hot pancakes across the table at her the same as if it was some big tin tumbler of old saloon whiskey.
Most of the songs came easy to me.
“It was a great daaaaaaay/it was a super waaaaaaay/to speeeennnnnd some time togetheerrrrrr.”
It’s stuff like that. It ain’t Bob Dylan lyrics here people.
Gradually, she started to fill in the ends of lines when I left them blank for her.
“I got/you got/she got/he got/we got….”
“…loco legs!” she hollered out as she reached for her cold milk. I smiled. I was all up in her head now. She wanted to play a game with me, she wanted to dance? Fine, sweetheart. Now we dance.
Anyhow, the days came and went and the concert got closer and no kidding now: by the end of last week we were singing about five or six of the tunes together and she knew straight-up well that there was a whole lotta Fresh Beat Band back in her life, back in her world. She was hearing me talk about them, turning on the mental jets now, asking her over and over again who was her favorite member of the band/what song did she dig the most/if she was excited to be able to see them because they were going to be right there in front of her little eyes…a hundred dollars worth of pure uncut Los Angeles California song and dance cooked up just to blow her little mind into a night of dreams like none before.
By two days ago, not that she had much choice, I guess, but she was real excited.
By yesterday morning, I felt good. I felt comfortable. I had managed to coax the heretic back into the camp. She was quivering, she was electrical.
In the parking lot of the theater, me and Monica turned around to talk about the show with Violet, but she was sound asleep in her car chair. Minor setback was all that was. I went around and poked her and tipped some apple juice down her hatch and she came around okay.
Then, as they were collecting the tickets, I think the crowds and all the anticipation got to her and she went a little bonkers and acted like I was holding her over the hungry volcano.
We got through that one too, though. Because that’s when Glow Stick Man showed up.
I said, how much? He said ten. He wouldn’t look in my eyes. I knew it was just his job, but still. Look me in the eye, good man, as you pull your sword from my chest. I handed her the glow stick and she forgot about her fear. Until the band hit the stage, that is. Poor kid. She lost her her dang mind right then. Lights down, loud squealing and clapping, the curtains separated and there they were, just like her mom and I had told her they would be, but it’s a lot to swallow. I know that. It was rough for her, so much raw reality where there had never been even a drop before.
So much Fresh Beat Band all at once, you know? It happens/people lose their minds.
By the end of it all though, it was magic, man. She was down in the aisle with her mom, jumping up and down, waving the glow stick. She was singing along/ bumping into other kids who were doing the same thing she was/ her two pigtails flapping in the confetti that they shot off the stage/her sweet little eyeballs glowing like never before.
Glowing like never ever before.