The Real A (Part II)

As a continuation of my previous post attempting to let people get a glimpse inside of who my husband really was, today I’m going to talk about that side of him that initially caused my cousin to remark she “never knew that about him” and which started this whole series in the first place.  Music and his sensitive side.

My husband was definitely a product of the 80s and the whole hair band generation.  He loved bands such as Boston, Def Leppard, Van Halen, and Styx, as well as long-forgotten groups such as Giuffria and Golden Earring (with the songs “Call to the Heart” and “Twilight Zone” respectively).  Music has always been a huge part of our family’s lives with each of us, children included, having our favorite genre, while still enjoying all kinds of music.

K with some friends outside the Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Waikiki, HI

Certain musical eras have great meaning to us, while certain songs or albums recall very specific memories and places.  Taylor Dayne whisked us back to our honeymoon as it was played on nearly every station and in every store we visited at the time; A always felt as though her songs “I’ll Always Love You” and “Love Will Lead You Back” were about Hawaii itself.  Britney Spears’ music from back when she could still be considered “bubble gum pop” reminds us of our move and initial adjustment period here in Florida.  Daughtry recalls a brief period just south of the Mason-Dixon line while Macarena brings to mind our time living in Hawaii because it was taught to K in gym class when she attended kindergarten in Waikiki. (We had no idea this was being taught to her until the day we wandered down Lewers St. and caught her making all kinds of hand and hip motions.  She heard the music pumping from one of the local bars long before it registered with us and began dancing along.)

Our older daughter’s first cassette tape delivered by Santa was Ace of Base and she played that thing in her little toy cassette player until it finally went the way of all cassettes and became a twisted mess of tangled magnetic tape.  Her first concert was Michael Bolton when she was 3 years old and she still wears the t-shirt to bed on occasion at age 25.  (Michael Bolton is an odd choice for a 3 y.o., but as we loved his music, she naturally did, too.  He was the artist who sang our wedding song, and between my husband and me, we attended at least 6 of his concerts through the years, one during which he had actually reached back and touched my hand – stretching across several other fans to get to me and causing my cousin to exclaim “he touched you” – while walking down the stairs toward the stage after intermission.  That incident inspired my husband to enter a contest for me years later and resulted in Michael Bolton writing a jingle “just for me”.) K is also our child who once won first place in a freestyle rap contest, much to her competition’s surprise.  She, along with our son, have a knack of finding obscure musicians and songs and predicting with fairly impressive accuracy whether or not it is going to be a hit.

Our younger daughter, Lady A, is quite knowledgeable about British boy bands, long before One Direction came on the scene, and enjoys most British pop, as well as Country, pop and others.  Her ultimate favorite genre, however?  Disney.  That girl can sing nearly any Disney song, and quote a fair amount of movies, as well.  This has been her lifelong interest, and some of our favorite memories were of her belting out Megara’s “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” in the back of our minivan when she was 4 years old.

Our son likes much of the same music as his father and sisters, and is just as content listening to KISS as he is Wiz Khalifa, although he’s partial to Twenty-One Pilots at the moment.  He remembers riding in the car with A on the way to a little league game one year, just the two of them because the girls and I had gone to Dallas for the weekend, and they blasted Van Halen.  It was just as memorable for A as it was for D, and it was one of those great Father / Son moments.

Basically anyone who ever knew A knew his love of those great old bands, but they

Statue outside the Naples Philharmonic, Naples, FL

probably didn’t know that as he got older, his tastes matured a bit.  Several years ago, we were given tickets to an opera at the Naples Philharmonic, La Cenerentola to be precise.  It was the Italian version of Cinderella, and the four of us went together (K was away at college at the time).  Lady A and D were alternately bored or sleeping, with one epic giggle fit somewhere in between, but my husband and I loved it.  We ended up going back several times over the next few years, most often seeing the orchestra.  It became a much-anticipated date night, and we would typically go out to dinner, then browse the art gallery with exhibit pieces from the Naples Art Museum next door, then get cozy in the auditorium and enjoy the (mostly) classical music performed by the Philharmonic.

Most people would probably think that I coerced him (or coaxed or guilted or bribed him) into attending with me.  The giant, sports-loving “he-man” couldn’t possibly like classical music or willingly attend such a performance without some sort of payback.  That wasn’t the case; he had a sensitive side most people just didn’t have the good fortune of witnessing.  He kept that side hidden, allowing himself to be vulnerable with very few people.

There are random memories of other experiences where music played a large part; wandering through the grocery store one night in search of some random, insignificant item and hearing an absolutely horrendous old song that just had us laughing the whole time.  A certain Harry Connick, Jr. Christmas CD where he sang “Happy Ho-Ho-Ho to

Night Ranger performing at Epcot, 2011

You” causing my family to cringe then erupt in laughter.  (If you ever see one of my children, I dare you to break out into that song and watch their reactions!)  The time we saw “Night Raaaannn-ger” perform at Disney’s Epcot and the kids thought A and I were much too into it and concerned that one of us were likely to storm the stage at any moment .

The random electronic keyboard player in the parking lot of a restaurant in the Florida Keys, by far one of the worst dining experiences we’ve ever had as a family.  From the waitress who promptly told me (upon my announcement that I wanted to “try” a certain dish) “oh, we don’t give out samples”, to the inexplicable gallon-jars of fluid and unknown things floating inside that caused Lady A to surmise they were “filled with the body parts of the diners who ate here before us” to the unlucky gentleman who sat behind us and ordered lobster tail that my husband swore “poofed” into a cloud of dust upon its opening, it was a terrible meal from start to finish.  The pièce de résistance was said keyboard player who drove up, pulled an electronic keyboard from his trunk, sat down and began playing horrible music.  The kids couldn’t take it anymore and ran off to the car while A and I paid for our “meals”.

When we joined them in the car, I popped a CD in that had been given to me from my employer at the time; the man was from Argentina and had given me a handmade CD of tango music that sounded very much like the music from which they had just made their escape.  We told them we had enjoyed it so much that we bought the CD and wanted to listen to it on the entire 3-hour drive home!  A and I got such a kick out of the practical joke that just presented itself.  To this day, if any one of us mentions the name of the restaurant, we all remember it as the best “worst time” we’ve ever had.

Then there was the time A and I were meandering through the aisles of World Market, not

First Dance at our wedding, 1990

really looking for anything specific, just taking our time and browsing.  (Surprisingly, that was another of his very uncharacteristic behaviors – he truly enjoyed shopping with me and we sometimes spent hours just looking around such places as World Market, Pier 1 Imports or Pottery Barn, and he thought nothing of traipsing alongside me while I went from store to store looking for a specific item that I would need for a special event.  In fact, he loved helping me find the perfect dress or shoes or purse.)  This particular trip, while we were comparing wine labels, our wedding song came on through the store speakers.  I immediately got that silly-stupid smile as warm memories came flooding over me.  My husband took one look at me and asked “Would you care to dance, m’lady?”  He took me by the hand, gathered me close, and we (somewhat awkwardly) began to slow dance among the bottles of wine.  It was a bit embarrassing, yet so incredibly sweet at the same time, and it is definitely one of those touching moments I’ll never forget.

© 2016 Many Faces of Cheri G All Rights Reserved

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