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so i married a rock star …

… whose career went no further than the middle of seventh grade. But still.

B. was little as a kid, born in December when all of his classmates and buddies were born earlier in the year and, as a result, went through their growth spurts sooner. As such, his two goals before reaching his bar mitzvah at age 13 were a) to be 5 feet, and b) to weigh 100 pounds. (Little kid, big dreams.)

But, small as he might have been in stature, he more than made up for it in personality, energy, and his never-ending ability to make himself known. (FYI, for those who don’t know him, he is now average height and weight but still has a big personality and a lot of energy – the uncaffeinated kind.)

But I digress. Back in fourth grade, B. wanted to be part of the school’s recital band, and drums were his instrument of choice. To the percussion section he was assigned. But given that there were fifth and sixth graders who were already the named drummers, he was designated to – wait for it – the cymbals.

The cymbals. Two huge disks that were almost as big as he was tall, that he held in both hands and crashed together with huge enthusiasm – and volume. Not the focus of the band, but certainly stealing the spotlight with a grand gesture each time it was his turn to play. The picture of him in my mind (tiny and adorable) with this big, big sound coming from his corner just cracks me up.

My favorite part of this story is when B. and his fourth-grade buddies formed their own band – just three kids playing in the living room for the love of music. Their name? Get ready for it – Nitro and the Dynamites. I kid you not.

Me: Who thought of the name?

He: Me.

Me: Who was Nitro?

He: (a bit indignantly) Me.

Me: (trying not to laugh) And did you have a special drum set at home?

He: (looking at me pityingly) Of course. It was a gold sparkle drum set that said Nitro and the Dynamites across the bass drum. Like the Beatles.

Me: You had a customized bass drum?

He: Well …

Me: (thinking this is too good to let go of) You had a bass drum printed with the name of the band?

He: Not exactly.

Me: Then what exactly?

He: I customized it. (Proud of himself)

Me: How?

He: Remember oaktag?

Me: Of course.

He: I cut out a big circle from black oaktag, wrote the name of the band on it in gold glitter, and attached it to the front of the drum.

Me: Wait – you used Elmer’s Glue to write the name and then sprinkled it with gold glitter and shook off the excess?

He: (looking uncomfortable) Yeah. I was a kid.

Me: (kissing him) That is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard.

He: Really? (looking both suddenly shy and pleased with himself) I even had a boom mic over my drum set.

Me: Stop. You’re killing me.

B. finally had the chance to play the drums in band in fifth and sixth grades (“I brought my own drumsticks from home,” he says proudly), and it looked like his rocker career had taken root. At friends’ bar mitzvahs in mid-seventh grade, the event bands would let him sit in, and my husband (first a lawyer and now a college professor) would wail away on the drum solos to “Wipeout” and “Hawaii Five-0” like nobody’s business. “Did you have any groupies?” I’ve asked him jokingly. “I was a little kid,” he responds, as if I’d asked a silly question (which I had). But his answer has always been accompanied by a little dreaming-of-being-a-rock-star smile.

But junior high (seventh grade in those days) had combined several elementary schools with lots of drummers, and B. lost interest in being one of many. His interest was channeled instead into growing to love rock music and its very best drummers – Charlie Watts and Keith Moon at first, the incredible Max Weinberg a bit later on (evidence of the latter being our five forays to see the E Street Band in concert). It expanded to a love of so many kinds of music (jazz and big-band, anyone?) and to a wide range of musical artists – musicians, songwriters, and vocalists.

His passion for music and his admiration for those who create and perform it is an absolute joy to see and to live with. (“I’m just in complete awe of anyone who can sit down and make music,” he says not infrequently.) And for those who might be curious, yes, Nitro still exists – each time B. breaks out into that opening riff from Five-0 (using his hands) on the dining room table.

The beat goes on.

©2023 Claudia Grossman

One comment on “so i married a rock star …

  1. Brings back so many memories. He was so cute, and he took over the crowd with those cymbals. (Still cute)

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