Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tom Waits to the Rescue

I'm normally not a moody guy. In fact, if folks are telling me the truth, I'm known as an easy-going, pleasant sort of person to be around.

I try to be that way with my family, too. But this morning, I woke up in a foul, foul mood. I have no idea why. It doesn't happen often, but it happens.

I hate one part of human nature I fall prey to at times: When I'm in a bad mood, I can mitigate sour expressions of my mood around coworkers and friends, out of basic politeness, I suppose. But sometimes, I have I harder time doing that around my wife and son. So, the two people I love the most bear the brunt of my foul moods. Damn it.

This morning, I woke up in an ugly mood, and I was late getting out of bed. I detest rushing around in the morning. And, as hard as I tried to conceal it, Dylan picked up on my grumpy state. I didn't yell at him, but I was kind of curt and not very engaging.

We walked out to the car, and as Dylan strapped in, I looked at him, and apologized for being so grumpy. His eyes teared up for a moment. He took a couple of breaths. Then he simply said, "Thanks for apologizing, Dad. (For the last month, I've been "Dad" instead of "Daddy." Sigh.) We all get grumpy sometimes."

A couple of miles down the road, I thought about how my mood had affected Dylan. I also thought about how grown up he'd been about it when he thanked me for apologizing. I wanted to stop the car, pick him up, and just kiss the begeezous out of him. But there was no good place to pull over.

He said, "Dad, put on the Tom Waits CD." Tom Waits? I hadn't had any Tom Waits recordings since losing a couple of old vinyl albums, The Heart of Saturday Night and Nighthawks at the Diner.

"Dylan, where did the Tom Waits CD come from?" "Mama and I found it on Claus's driveway." Claus is Dylan's godfather. He has a house about a half mile from ours. He must have lost it out of his luggage while loading his car to go to the airport. Claus has only two speeds: hurry, and asleep.

I ejected the CD to look at it. "Mule Variations." I'd never heard of it. No surprise there, since the last two Tom Waits albums I'd owned were recorded in '74 and '75. I shoved it back into the player, and Dylan began singing along to the first song, "Big in Japan."

Wow, it sure brought back a flood of memories and feelings hearing that voice again. One critic described it as "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car."

Once again, I marveled at Dylan's musical tastes, at the mere age of seven. I mean, heck, I couldn't imagine enjoying Tom Waits at the age of seven. But then, as a baby, Dylan's favorite CD was Ry Cooder's Buena Vista Social Club. (Yes, I'm bragging on my kid. If you're a dad, and you fail to brag on your kid, you will go to hell.)

We heard several songs of the CD by the time we arrived at Dylan's school. Dylan sprung out of the car, grabbed his backpack, and we ran together up the stairs from the parking lot to the school campus. We were a little early, so Dylan had time to play with his friends before class.

"That was fun, Daddy." I took note of the "Daddy" instead of "Dad." "Yes it was, Punkin'. Hug only, or hug and kiss?" He took a quick look around. "You can kiss me." Not too many of his buddies around, I guessed. I hugged him and kissed his head, then watched him run off to play with his friends. He looked so tall, so much on the way to being grown.

My eyes misted over for a minute. Then I made my way back to to the car. I smiled. "That was fun, Daddy." I drove away, and cranked the Tom Waits CD way up. I smiled again.


Mike said...


Anonymous said...

Dylan has the ability to bring out the best in his father. What a gift for you. That's a lovely story.

David said...

Lucky Man.

Uncle E said...

It's amazing, isn't it? Kylie (7)is a fan of the Flaming Lips, Rod Stewart and Van Morrison. Amanda (3 1/2) is a big Bon Jovi, AC/DC and M Ward fan.
I have Tom's "Rain Dogs", and perhaps I'll throw that on during the 25 minute ride to school tomorrow and see what Klylie thinks.

Redlefty said...

You had a "moment". Love those!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately my family bears the brunt of my bad moods as well. I think this is because we know they'll love us no matter what! I've joked that when hearing me described in my eulogy, my kids will turn to each other and say, "Are we at the right funeral? That doesn't sound like OUR Ma!".

Hmmm... now I need to go listen to some Tom Waits somewhere. I don't remember listening to him in the 70s!

I really enjoyed this entry....


debby said...

Nice post.

PS Moms who don't brag on their kids will join those fathers who don't.