Sometimes the magical combination of food and music gives you a chance to appreciate what you had and what you have…and if you catch a break, you get to share that moment…
The story really begins 30 years ago. Like most young boys, when I got my license I was ready to drive anywhere, anytime, and on any errand for my folks. When I got behind the wheel of the car, two things were certain…it could easily turn into a revenue enhancement opportunity for local government, and there would be Southern Rock playing for the entire trip. My mother may have had one foot with the Beatles and one foot with Rachmaninoff, and my father liked gospel, but me…I was one with the dueling guitars.
When I hit the road, Dickie Betts was riding shotgun and Duane Allman and the Van Zant Brothers were in the back seat. Even as I became pals with Little Feat, Jimmy Buffett, and Thin Lizzy, my first allegiance-through stormy weather, plane crashes, and motorcycle mishaps-were the Southern Boys.
My father didn’t quite get my musical taste, and referred to the groups I liked as those “long haired Redneck Guys”
One evening while I was in college Dad and I headed out to Kline’s Drive-In for our a late evening snack of chili dogs and milkshakes. I popped in .38 Special, and the first song out was “Wild Eyed Southern Boy”. I don’t know if it was the music or the cover art, but something got his attention. He had me play the song again, and yet again on the way home. With windows down, warm wind blowing through the car and biting at our ball caps, the the stereo turned “up to 11”, that became our theme song for the rest of the Summer of 1981…although he just referred to it as “that blamed song”
Tempes Fugit…last Monday night my father, now 83, tripped and fell and ended up in the emergency room at PW Hospital. There wasn’t much wrong with him that rest wouldn’t fix, and I checked him out of the hospital after an overnight observation stay.
He seemed sort of wan and weak…and I made a split second diagnosis, based in my thirty+ years practicing as an unlicensed psychologist….
“Dad, there’s only one thing that is going to make you feel better. I prescribe chili dogs.”
He agreed. As we drove out, I turned on my IPod, which by good fortune was on the “Southern Rock” play list. Dad grinned, and said, “you got that blamed song on that thing?”
We got a sack of chili dogs and wolfed them down so fast we had to address a famous philosophical question: If a man burps in a car, and you don’t see a wrapper, was there ever really a chili dog there?
We headed back into Manassas, with windows down, warm wind blowing through the car and biting at our ball caps, the stereo turned “up to 11”, our once and future theme song blasting for all to hear…just a couple of Wild Eyed Southern Boys.
For a moment, I knew if I looked up quick I would be able to catch Dicky and the Van Zants in the back seat.
Duane? He is likely be off trying to figure out why his brother married Cher…
My father is 83. He probably can see the clubhouse on a bad day, and I finished the front 9 some years ago. But for a few moments, we were both young again on a warm summer evening with a bellyful of chili and a song in our hearts.
Dickie, Donne, Ronnie, and Duane-thanks for the soundtrack. Kline’s-thank you for catering and for 38 years of teaching me the wisdom of knowing where your next pit-stop will be before eating Chili dogs because, as the late, great Lewis Grizzard once said, “those chili dogs always bark at night.”
Thanks to you all for the memories. Dad and I really appreciate it.