Line Her Notes: Entry.005

Sunday, 09 December 2007

So, I’m standing in line to purchase a CD at a used record shop yesterday when I see a ten-year-old boy clutching a skateboard in one hand and a CD in the other hesitantly approach the counter. He whispers something to the clerk who then gets a puzzled face and asks the boy to sit down in the waiting area. The clerk then turns to the store owner and says, “Hey, that kid’s mom wants him to return that CD because he’s not allowed to have it. He doesn’t want an exchange though because she wants him to get his cash back. What should I do?” A smile came across my face as I glanced at that little boy. Oh, how I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to see what the CD was. I suddenly had flashbacks to the numerous times I was filled with parental terror and fear over my mother’s discovery of various “secular” CDs.

Growing up in a strict fundamentalist household, I remember when my mom just about lost her mind over finding my Porno for Pyro’s self-titled disc. I guess the band name is enough to strike fear in the heart of any Jesus-loving parent. I remember my mom’s tirade on me and firm edict that I needed to toss it in the trash pronto because she didn’t want it near the house. In jr. high, I would always comply with these edicts. Morrissey, Depeche Mode, Smashing Pumpkins discs were all tossed in the name of being a good Christian. But being a little older, I decided I’d rebel. With my heart pounding, I told her I’d throw it away and then promptly went to my room and stashed it under my mattress. In the same way prohibition made alcohol so much more fascinating than it ever was, my mother’s criminalization of my music made me prize my fledgling collection like the Holy Grail.

At this time in my life, I had no desire to pursue a career in music as a musician or music journalist. Although I was writing songs and obsessing over bands I simply didn’t have the courage to consider a life in music. I was convinced I was simply not cool enough and had no idea how to get cool. Every time brilliant shows happened, I sat utterly depressed in my room because I wasn’t allowed to go. When my friend Kimberlee and I got tickets for the first Lollapalooza, my mom quickly let it be known I would not be attending. I remember how hard I cried. I remember Kimberlee going and showing me pictures of Johnny Ramone wandering backstage. I wanted to die. How could God be so mean?

By the time I moved into a college dorm at 17, I was overwhelmed by the prospect of personal and artistic freedom. Within three months, my “mom approved” wardrobe was traded for 12-hole Docs, bad thrift-store clothes, red wine Punky color hair dye and no less than 3 fake IDs. I began to voraciously consume music, work on music, go to shows and hide out in my friend’s studio until 3 or 4 in the morning just to be near a soundboard, just to be near the process. I would use my fake IDs at punk/rock dives like Linda’s Doll Hut in Anaheim or, of course, the good ol’ Whiskey and Roxy. The Sunset Strip still had some kind of punk allure back then…

It’s funny, but I think that my fascination and obsession with music was the same fascination most of my friends had for sex, drugs and alcohol growing up. I started drinking in fifth grade, never cared about drugs and was a self-imposed nun so none of those subjects held much fancy for me. Turning 21 was exciting simply because I could go to more shows.

And, of course, the irony of seeing that little boy with his bummed out face clutching his skateboard and looking hopelessly embarrassed was that I felt like saying, “Kid, I was you and oh, how it changes…” While having lunch with Billy Corgan a couple of years ago, I told him about my mom’s censorship of my record collection. He laughed and said, “Well, tell your mom you’re having lunch with that nice, young satanic man.” I did. She laughed.

The clerk finally told the boy that they would give him credit, it was good forever and he could come back with his parents to choose a new CD. He seemed pleased with that option. Overhearing this exchange, an O.C. mom standing in front of me arrogantly quipped, “Well, I let my kids listen to whatever they want.” I replied, “My mom didn’t… and I became a musician who dated all the people she warned me about.” She didn’t have a thing to say.

And I guess, in all honesty, I didn’t really have a thing to say to that boy either. Talking to him would have simply entrenched his embarrassment more. In time he’ll learn that this is all a part of the process. Some people have the “cool” parents who give them KISS on vinyl at age seven and some of us have dorky parents who fear music more than life itself. For myself, I guess it was good I had the latter. It gave me the hunger to appreciate music and not just listen, but obsess and pore over liner notes, stay up far too late watching nothing remarkable happen at a recording studio and move to London. I don’t think it would have happened otherwise. Whenever you have to fight for something, you love it more and in a day and age where it’s easy to make no effort, I guess I can thank my mom for making music a bigger drug than I ever knew it could be.

So, with a simple smile I acknowledge the little boy and walk out of the record shop hoping that one day that holy fear of his parents will turn into a holy fear of music…just like mine did. They’ll get over the disappointment, kid…well, maybe.

The doctor is always in:

Comments are closed.