|The Writer's Page
||June 6th, 2007|
A new page in The Paper that offers a forum for area writers to display their work, to offer commentary, and/or criticism. Submit work by email, photo art will be considered (we prefer jpg). This will be an occasional feature, scheduled when the editor feels there is sufficent material with which to work and sufficient space to publish. No phone calls, please.
To Nebraska and Back
Part 3 – Home Town Boy
Having proven my love for my son exceeded my love of my red Mustang GT Convertible with throaty V-8 engine and great sound system by handing Jonathan the keys to drive on rain slick streets during rush hour in a city that had changed considerably since last he was here, I settled in for an afternoon’s conversation with George and Cindy. Sister Donna was going to join us for the ride to Harrah’s Horseshoe Casino for dinner and the show at the Whiskey Roadhouse, a 500-seat bar and entertainment venue.
It turned out that Cindy would join us after dinner as she was giving aid and comfort to Benjamin, one of their adorable Bichon Frises who the prior week had stones removed from his urinary tract and bladder. That morning the vet had heavily sedated Bennie in order to remove stitches and re-dress the wound, so Cindy, having spent most of the day with a slightly woozy dog in her lap, was in no hurry to leave him unattended.
The rainy drive across town put us in the casino parking garage just ahead of the earlier agreed upon 6:00 meeting time for dinner. As none of the family participants had been there before, I felt compelled to meet each one at the entry door and direct them to the area where we had arranged a semi-private table area for eating and conversing. The one thing not needed were instructions on how to overeat at the surprisingly good buffet offerings; I believe that is part of our genetic makeup and quickly taught to all who marry into the family…it also may be the origin of the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses.”
The tables were soon filled as we were joined by brother Ralph and his son Seth who had completed his semester at UNK and driven in that morning from Kearney, sister Phyllis and her husband Jim from Wayne, their daughter Leslie and her gentleman friend, Barbara’s sister Carol and husband Gary and their son J. J. who had driven down from Sioux City, and of course Jonathan. My daughter Andra and her partner Margo came by the table to say hello and let us know they had eaten at home and would join us in the Whiskey Roadhouse.
After dinner, while Jonathan took everyone else out to tour the travel bus, I threaded my way through the slots and gaming tables over to the Whiskey Roadhouse just to get my bearings and see who else might be there. As I stood at the top of the dance floor stairs, I spotted two of my daughter Jennie’s high school friends and made my way to their table for hugs, hellos and quick updates before heading for the table of my choice against the wall and near the rest of the family.
As I took my seat I couldn’t help but notice the contrast from last night: small town country and western bar vs. the glitz of a big city casino lounge; a packed house of very young and devoted fans who bought admission tickets vs. a few empty tables and an older, well dressed crowd that, in the main did not know EYB beyond the fact they were this Thursday’s no charge entertainment sponsored by KAT 103, a local country radio station. Knowing from personal experience how a performer will play off the audience response, I was concerned the band/audience electricity might not be the same high voltage I felt last night.
My concerns were quickly put to rest. The radio personality gave a great introduction which included mention of the band’s success on the ‘red dirt circuit’ (Texas and Oklahoma) and the fact the bass player was a home town boy (brought extra applause from family and friends in the crowd). The audience may not have known the words to all the songs, but they understood good music and soon the dance floor was filled with future fans that looked like they just might buy a ticket the next time the band was in the area.
When the last song had been played, I made my way to where a group of Jonathan’s high school friends were standing. It was very special for me to have the opportunity to get caught up on the lives of those ‘kids’ who had shared the stage with my son in musicals, show choir and band at Westside High School in Omaha. Jeff, the drummer in Jonathan’s first band, was graduating from pharmacy school next week. Jill, an accomplished country singer in her own right, told me to watch for her CD release in October. Peter, not yet a doctor, was working in a health related field. Diedre, arguably the prettiest girl in the room, perhaps any room, was married and living in Denver and just happened to be in town visiting her parents.
Finally, family-wise, it was just me and George watching Jonathan doing his own catching up. Knowing it would be a while until I saw him again, it was difficult to say goodbye to my son and wish him well as the band headed for performances Friday in Chicago, Saturday in Minneapolis and then on to Nashville for some studio work. I was glad he would not have to be taking his turn at the wheel of the van, but could go down the road in relative safety in the bus. Words alone could not convey the joy in my heart for what he and the EYB had contributed these past two days.
When George and I got back to his home we finished the evening with a couple of Baileys Irish Creams and two good cigars. I found myself suddenly very tired and knowing I had a long drive back home in a few hours, I headed for bed. The window was open and I could smell the moisture laden air and hear the rain falling on the house, so when I slid under the comforter it didn’t take me long to go to sleep. Just long enough to lay there and realize the past two days had been pretty special.
While drinking some orange juice and coffee we watched the TV weather news. There was a wide, dark red area on the map which indicated possible severe storms; it nearly covered my entire route home. I was on the road by 7:30 and drove through steady rain until I turned South at York. From there to the Kansas/Oklahoma border the weather was constantly improving and it was top down the rest of the way to Fort Worth where I joined Brenda for a light dinner and a rehash of three of the best days I could recall.