Nothing smacks a kid harder than entering high school. Giant upper class-men roam the halls with their make-up clad ladies on their arms. Most of these look upon the underlings with either disdain or sympathy. At least that's how I thought it was going to be.
It was the summer before I entered the doors of OPHS in Kansas City and fears of not measuring up swam through my thoughts like piranha at a swim meet, devouring my aspirations. I needed to prepare myself. As a football player, this meant lifting weights. Three of my friends were also gearing up for the passage, so they joined me at my house to pump iron. Well, "pumping plastic" is more like it, since my weights were concrete covered plastic donuts.
Great goals often fall short at the point of execution, I've heard. Our little gym certainly proved this. Somehow, having everyone over on a hot summer day did not inspire us to diligently hit the weights. Imagine that?
One Wednesday, as we worked on our budding biceps, I heard Keith yell "Crank it up!" as Scott needled my sister's Journey album. "Wheel in the Sky" flooded the furnished basement as we played air guitar, drums, and pantomimed singing. Aerosmith's "Toys in the Attic" flopped onto the turn-table, which halted our work-out yet again as we jumped on the sofa, hung from the iron circular staircase, and swung from the floor beams in rockin' jubilation. Fortunately, my parents both worked, so we were free to fly through the house on the wings of Boston's "Don't Look Back."
"You know what we should do," said Scott, "we should come over hear some night and have a concert." At first, I thought he was kidding. After all, spontaneous air guitar is one thing, but a contrived air band? He was serious, well as serious as a kid talking about faking a band can be.
"Yeah, that would be cool," replied Keith. "We could do it some night when your parents go out!" When his twin brother, Craig, concurred, they all looked at me for confirmation.
I quickly contemplating the damage versus fun factor in my head. If we cleared the lamps and various breakables, it should work out, right? "I think they'll be gone this Saturday to a church party,"
"Great," said Scott. "Let's do it!"
Our first concert date was set, but we needed to prepare. The following day, Scott and I dug through some of our family treasures for junk to use. First, we needed a guitar. I had an old Montgomery Ward guitar with no strings, so Scott peeled off the little smiling sunshine emblem and put black electrical tape all over it so it looked like Eddy Van Halen's. Finding a base was easy. We simply borrowed an damp sponge mop that my mom stuck in a corner. Two clothes hangers that used cardboard tubes for bottoms were quickly stripped down to make drumsticks. My dad, being the gadget king of Gladstone, had some old microphones, so we taped those to broom sticks which we propped up with weights. The concert hall was set.
I cleared our concert with the brass by telling my parents that my friends were coming over to listen to music and stuff. The "stuff" was vague, I suppose, but parents would never understand air bands, so it was best they rolled with "stuff."
When Keith and Craig arrived, Scott and I had already cleared away the breakables into my room and moved the sofa back to the wall. This worked out well, because it gave Scott a perch on which to play the drums. Keith, being the wilder of the twins, took the guitar in order to lay down some fiery air licks. Craig, definitely the calmest of us all, took the mop bass. Grabbing the microphone, I became the lead singer. I was no David Lee Roth, however. The only way I could do the splits was if you gave me ice cream and bananas.
First song cued. "Riding the Storm Out" from REO Speedwagon. It was from a live album, so we heard the crowd cheer as we commenced rocking the house. Blasting song after song, we though the evening with perfectly precisioned air excellence. We heard nothing but the blast of the music and the ringing in our ears. Suddenly, a pair of feet appeared on the circular staircase. I quickly realized it was my father. Keith flipped off the music and we stood there with stringless guitar, mop, and hanger bottoms in our hands.
"What on earth are you doing?" asked my shocked father.
"Nothing," we replied.