Last week I was chatting with my friend M and she mentioned that she didn’t care for Weird Al. This was in response to another person saying that if someone didn’t like Weird Al, they could GTFO (essentially).
I can appreciate that desire to have everyone around you like the things you like, but I find life is so much more interesting and rich to surround myself with people who are interested and passionate about things that I am not. This was basically the toast I gave at my brother’s wedding.
I told my brother and his wife that passion is important in a marriage, but we often think of passion as the feeling between two people and leave it at that. I encouraged them to maintain their passions and interests in things outside each other, because that would keep their relationship fresh and interesting. When I go along for the ride with a friend’s passion, I get to experience something I never would have otherwise.
One of my brother’s passions is music. It is a touch point that connects us. I was a teenager when Tipper Gore founded the Parental Music Resource Center (PMRC), to label albums with explicit lyrics. It was rooted in her horror at discovering her 13-year old daughter was listening to a Prince song that talked about masturbation. The intention of PMRC was to raise awareness for parents about the music their children were listening to, it also made my local music store restrict the age of customers who could purchase those albums. When I was 18, I went to Specs with my brother so we could purchase the Guns N Roses album, Appetite for Destruction. We went up to the register where my brother handed me the album and the money. I passed them to the clerk, who rang it up and then gave me the album and the change, which I returned to my brother.
Fast forward a decade, and I’m now living in Seattle. My brother has graduated college as well and is living on the west coast. His favorite band, the Beastie Boys, is doing a west coast tour and he and a few friends decide to follow them for a few shows. He stops in Seattle for one of them.
I love telling this story, because it was an epic event. The concert is held in an arena (at the Seattle Center for those who know it), and the show is staged “in the round.” The stage is in the center of the floor and spins, like a lazy susan. The crowd completely surrounds the stage, separated from the performers by a 6 or 7 foot security moat. We sit up in the stands and can watch all the action on the floor. We see a few circles in the crowd where people are moshing, and it’s amazing to watch the energy ripple and flow through the crowd.
Every so often someone tries to breach the security moat and get on the stage, but they are dragged down by the security folks. UNTIL one guy does it. The band is performing the song “Sure Shot” and this guy somehow pops up on the stage! He whips out a throwaway instant camera and while being chased by security, he stops and snaps a selfie with at least two of the band members. Just as it seems security is going to nab him, he runs to the edge of the stage and LEAPS OFF, clearing the moat and falling into the crowd, who catch him and swallow him up. The crowd roars for their hero and the security folks are probably telling the story to this day, not to mention my brother and I like to share this memory and revisit it. I just had to ask him what the song was, as a matter of fact, since I couldn’t tell you a single one they performed.
A couple years ago, the musical Hamilton hit the zeitgeist. I heard friends raving about it online and sought it out. My brother remained clueless about this one, until his daughter brought it to his attention, and he became a fan. I love this thread connecting us through time and space, and seeing his daughter picking up the tradition thrills me.
Sometimes other people’s passions become integrated into my own spheres, but often they are something I enjoy vicariously. It adds color and dimension to my life, sometimes turns my brain inside-out and makes me think about things in different ways, and always challenges me to give something a try. Except shrimp. Sorry Mom, I still hate shrimp.