Summer of 1998
On our way to Milwaukee Fest Peggy and I sat wedged aboard an Amtrak train having just left Union Station from our jobs working at the Mercantile Exchange. I popped in a double sided tape my friend had made for me into my Walkman head phones. Sipping our coffees, I offer her a listen to an album I hadn’t yet learned the name of, by the band, Blink 182.
Summer of 1999
Spread like wild fire, my brothers were soon on board Blink, particularly twelve year old Ryan and seventeen year old, Ray. By the time we had agreed to escort Ryan to his first concert, both little brothers could recite all the lyrics to Dude Ranch and Cheshire Cat by heart. We met at Mom and Dad’s. As we assemble on the front lawn, Mom dances down the cement porch with camera in hand, ready to capture the moment. Fran, with his familiar blue steel John Stamos pose, Me, quickly grabbing onto the shoulders of wiry Ray, Ryan, awkwardly attempting to appear stone cold cool with what appeared to be 1-8-2 hands, and the Peg, leaning back with eldest assurance.
We blasted Blink in the car the whole way. Upon reaching the World venue, the long lines of concert goers temporarily deflated our dynamic gusto. We sat, cramped, music lowered in frustration. Our teamster, Peg, makes a quick witted decision that this grid lock fiasco is not going to rain on her little brother’s concert parade, and jerks the steering wheel to the right, out of line, trailblazing our compact ride into a dusty terrain seemingly yet discovered. The younger four of us, stare with mouths agape and excited eyes as our rebel sister makes a break for the VIP parking. We pull up to a skinny teenager with overgrown feet and a florescent vest.
“Oh yeah. I have it.” My deceptive sister responds coolly to our astonishment. “Hold on…One second… Ugh. Where is that? Check the glove box.” The younger four of us sit as novices, in awkward silence, attempting to be as cool as our older sis in this blatant stretch of the truth. “Hold on…I’ll get it.” She replies. Then proceeds to press the gas pedal, taking off a hundred yards to the parking spot in a Dukes of Hazard blaze of upturned dust. This single act of rebellion set the tone for the night. We fell over laughing in the car as the big feet and florescent vest disappeared behind us in the smolder of the dusty road. Of course, we had to pass this dumbfounded teen on our way in, to which my sister again fumbles into her pockets and convincingly explains, “I don’t know where that pass went, but thank you so much.” The staggered teen uneasily replied with an unsure, “Oh, Ok. Ok, it’s cool.” And off we run.
Two hours of lights and blare. Ryan atop Fran’s shoulders with double horns, finally getting his hand signals correct. We sing. Dance ridiculously. Yell and laugh with raised arms on the darkened Lawn of the World concert theater.
The night ends with us cruising home, blaring Blink music from the car radio in recent nostalgia of a night to remember.
Summer of 2013
“Well, if we’re going to reenact the picture, we have to get a wet raccoon for Brig’s head.”
“You’re hilarious, Ryan.” I respond with an attempted head lock and a quick punch to the arm.
Fourteen years, four spouses, seven children, numerous college degrees later, we reassemble onto the front lawn. This time it’s my older brother’s house, having our childhood home been sold years prior. Mom danced down the cement steps of the front porch with camera in tow. The span of years does nothing to our camaraderie. We may be homeowners. We may be parents. We may be a teacher, a designer, a filmmaker, an engineer, a college coach, but we are still us. Always. No adult titles will deny us that right. We will still head lock each other, surprise each other, amuse each other like no other.
We head off in the car, Blink blaring from the car radio.