Not long ago I caught my teenage son in something unexpected, something that startled me, shocked me, even, a little. “Oh dear!” you may already have gasped. “What could it be? Drugs? Was he smoking the marijuana?”
But no. It was nothing like that.
He was in the basement, as he often is after his homework is finished, playing Star Wars: Battlefront on the Playstation. Now, there’s nothing incredibly odd about that. He enjoys video games, and I enjoy them with him sometimes – though he usually wastes me. I’ve never been very good with video games.
But what was odd about this was that he’d turned off the game’s soundtrack and was running and gunning down rebel scum with laser blasters while listening to the music of Simon and Garfunkel. I smiled at this and stepped into my little at home office in the next room. I left the door open so I could listen to him – unobservedly – as he was singing along.
I smiled again – at the odd juxtaposition of futuristic, science fiction violence and introspective, folk music of the 1960s, and smiling with pride for my son.
I smiled until he came to the line about getting the “come on from the whores on seventh avenue…” My smile faltered a bit there.
He’s fifteen. And while I know that he’s a long way from the little boy who used to dress up as a pirate every afternoon – a pirate wearing cowboy boots and not one, but three vests – he can’t be old enough for that line, can he?
And then I remembered that I was about fifteen myself, when I found my father’s vinyl copy of Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits (that was the best of the records in my dad’s small collection. Second best might have been Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass - yes – the one with that cover…) I copied that Simon and Garfunkel album to a cassette tape and wore it out.
I thought about my boy, and about myself, and about my father and my smile came back. It never really left, I suppose.