He stands on the slate hearth with his back to the burning woodstove plucking his glittery bass guitar. Our Twenty Something son is on winter break and practicing for the first gig of his new cover band. They principally do Red Hot Chili Peppers music. He slaps and sings and, suddenly, whistles — “uuu-eeeeeee!” — which wakes up Ruby and makes me laugh. Loudly. He halts quickly. I rush out from the kitchen laughing.
“Sheesh,” says our son. He has tremendous vocal abilities (heck, he got the lead in “Oklahoma” in high school) and I love to hear him serenade as I work. Apparently, though, this whistle is part of his act and not intended to be hysterical.
“Ruby is almost deaf,” I point out. “But your whistling got through!”
He accepts this explanation for my hilarity, and then the Bearded One emerges from the den where he has been happily watching football. It is a miracle we get the channel, especially since the Bearded One bumped the antenna when he was cleaning moss and cedar branches off the roof this week.
The guys exchange game score information, and I go back to washing and chopping a cabbage. It’s a Second Best cabbage from the root cellar, but that’s just because it’s small. It’s perfect for cole slaw to go with our chili.
The Bearded One adds a log to the woodstove and our son steps toward his disassembled amp spread over the living room floor. He and the Bearded One talk about the cover piece that doesn’t fit snugly enough for the travel it’ll be doing when the band Cherry Green hits the road.
Then they begin talking about famous bassists and the 2 and 3-finger technique, and I stand at the kitchen sink and think about running my fingers through Sage’s thick fleece this morning.
I stay out of their conversation until I hear that the new band of four engineering students plans to strip at the end of the act (wearing only strategically placed socks…) like the Red Hot Chili Peppers famously did back in the 90s.
“Will you wear makeup?” I ask. “You know, like KISS?”
Both of them look at me, stunned. Somehow, this, too, is not quite on the mark. He needs encouragement. He needs a sign that he will not make a fool of himself, that he will play well and be acknowledged appropriately. You know — a rock god.
So when the two of us leave for a late afternoon walk with Ruby — the Bearded One stays home to watch the end of the game — I look forward to being helpful. I ask about when he hopes his knee will be re-habbed enough to play his beloved Ultimate Frisbee? February. He asks me about how to make chili, and I tell him. He tells me how he has instituted kitchen towels and dish cloths, two of each, at his house of college boys. I laugh.
He is so dang cute, even though he got his hair cut again. And shaved his gorgeous beardlet. He says he hopes to add another engineering class, so with French, he’ll have five classes. He’s 3-1/2 years through a 5 year engineering program.
His plate is full, we agree, but he’s up to it. And, about Cherry Green’s first gig — “Hey,” I say, “a little apprehension is good. You’ll see, all the babes will rush from the stands to give you smooches.”
We get home and I retrieve the pot of leftover morning oatmeal from where I left it on the driveway. I explain that it’s for the chickens, that it is how we get them to head into the aviary at night. Otherwise it’s impossible, like herding cats. Only the attraction principle has a prayer. As we walk up the tractor trail in the darkening woods, I tell him to just bang the pot — there’s a spoon inside. He laughs and doesn’t think I’m serious, I can tell.
Then he begins to slap the spoon, the two-finger technique. And, sure enough, from all corners of the goat pasture, clucking and calling and flapping, the banties and the huge Ameraucanas alike — the chix come running.