Those Pesky Kids
Somewhere there is a man that is resting in peace.
I'm sure he's turned to dust by this point, but you never know how well the whole embalming thing works. But if things were still operational, he would have one solitary thought on his mind:
At least those damned kids finally shut the hell up.
I wanted to be a rock star.
Sure, I know you're snickering, and I get it. I'm chuckling about it, too, now that I get to look back on the whole period because I quit school to pursue it for a while.
I played guitar and bass, and while I was on the drum line at my high school, our drummer was the number one snare on the line and an incredible kit player. We'll call him Rick.
Rick's dad was a college instructor and a black belt in Aikido. He had a house that, to this day, I lust over. It was cozy and hidden away on the side of a local lake.
That is the setting of this scene. Imagine looking across a wooded lake reminiscent of a photograph of Americana, perhaps Thoreau. Houses peek out around its peaceful circumference. If you gaze out across and to a two o'clock position, you have our guy from the beginning. He's in his house, muttering, polishing his shotgun, and opting for the phone instead.
Because we, like all budding rock stars, had a garage band. It was more like a basement band if you want to get technical about it. Since the basement had glass windows, the back door had to be opened. We played music, and we liked to share our love.
Our daily concerts were first met without a reaction or audience of any kind. That was fine since we were getting our chops together. We were all upperclassmen in high school, which meant we were as poor as church mice. Our amplifiers weren't meant for serious output, but we did the best we could and cranked them as high as they would go.
The phone was ringing, but we couldn't quite make it out. This was around 1987, and there was only so far that technology was going back in those days. Once we heard the excited male voice over the answering machine, we felt seen. We had our first fan.
Man, was that guy enthusiastic!
The intensity and passion were exciting and invigorating, leading us to the conclusion that we really needed to consider the needs of our new fan base.
We needed new equipment. I ascertained this from my conversation with Rick, who reviewed the answering machine message after I left.
"What did that guy say?" I asked Rick.
He smiled happily and responded, "I don't think we're loud enough for him."
"Was that what he said?"
I'm not necessarily proud of what I am about to tell you, and I was wise enough to stay out of it for the most part. I made a very shady back-door investment. I know I gave Rick $200, and the mystery transaction quadrupled my return. That $800 left my hands the next day at the music shop, and I rode back to Rick's basement squished between components of a brand new Marshall stack.
Now that we had the goods, we needed to design a fitting setlist, and we wasted no time applying ourselves to the task, building a mini-show that would thrill and inspire. After all, how many older men in the 80s could you imagine that enjoyed thrash metal as much as we did?
You want to start these things slowly and softly, although I have seen plenty of bands come out of the starting gate full throttle. Our opener was Am I Evil? by Metallica. It was an excellent eight-minute warmup. We blasted through about a good half hour of music, and the phone would begin ringing somewhere between Angel of Death by Slayer and Waking The Dead by Suicidal Tendencies, one of my personal favorites.
"I know what's wrong," Rick said, rising from behind his kit, "We need to point that stack out the back door. I don't think he can hear it well enough. I'd hate to disappoint him, wouldn't you?"
With that, I helped Rick position the six-foot monolith of speaker monstrosity and slide it facing towards the lake.
By the time we finished our encore of Over The Wall by Testament, the phone was lit up like a holiday call-in show.
Our divine mission was to share our art and music with the world, and we had an "only fan" before there was OnlyFans. But then the calls stopped.
A week later, Rick's father came home early and appeared in the doorway. "Mr. Cloutmeier got a new set of studio headphones," he said.
"Huh," Rick responded with a smirk. "I wonder why?"
His father pursed his lips and said, "Since he called me at work to tell me, and you know how much I enjoy acknowledging his existence at any time, let's see if we can find out why." He strode purposefully to the answering machine and punched the playback button with a stern look on his face.
With a panicked, maniacal sound last heard in the movie Event Horizon, we could make out the pained syllables of his passionate admonishment:
"Would you goddamned kids shut the f*ck up?"