Chapter 29 2007 - Party Like a Rockstar

I's initial reaction to Angela's revelation had been one of total and utter shock. He had been able to accept the pregnancy of Pandora. He had been able to accept the pregnancy of Chrissy, even despite the fact that he never wanted to see her grow up. He had been able to accept the two pregnancies that Angela had before. But this one made no sense at all. Angela was nearly fifty years old, she was a grandmother, he was a grandfather, little Chrissy was a mother herself. The news left him speechless, senseless, without any sense of time or place. He fell into a faint and his dreams took over.

He dreamed of his former life where he would party like a rockstar, he dreamed of a future life, where his golden years would be filled with changing diapers, where babies were everywhere, and there was no option this time to give them away to good families to take care of until they could take care of themselves. He dreamed of a current life where his wife had just revealed that she was pregnant, and the cycle would start again. There was no escape.

Angela had tried valiantly to revive him, concerned that the sudden faint and fall had somehow caused injury. She took a wet washcloth, rubbed his face with it, wished she had some smelling salts, as if anyone kept a supply of them on hand.

Finally I came to. The room was swirling, Angela's face was looming up close. I couldn't even recognize his surroundings.

He could hear Angela say "I, I was kidding. I'm not pregnant. It was a joke. I didn't know you would react so badly. Please forgive me."

I couldn't tell if what he was hearing was reality or the reality of what he wanted to hear. He passed again into unconsciousness and the dreams took over again. He found himself again revisiting and revising the past, creating events in his mind that never happened. He found himself backstage after a show, imbibing in liters of liquor, dozens of pills, cadres of women. Trips within trips within trips. He found himself at the edge of a tall building, ready to fly. He took the leap and soared over the city. He looked down to the city below. He recognized the lights of Las Vegas, the hotels and casinos, he flew over the Eiffel Tower, over New York City. He found the city transformed and suddenly he was over New York City. He recognized the World Trade Center restored. He saw Central Park. He saw the lights of Broadway. He saw throngs of people in Times Square on New Years Eve and he saw it suddenly transform to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. He transformed into a balloon himself, tethered to dozens of people trying to pull him down to earth. As he reached the ground, he ran. He crossed rivers and bridges, he crossed wide expanses of open fields, he climbed mountains. He suffered snow and rainstorms and heat waves and dense fog. He covered deserts and fought thirst and fever and fatigue and he woke up in a sweat, still uncertain of his surroundings and its reality.

Angela's voice returned to his hearing. "I, I, wake up! Are you ok?"

The room was coming into focus. It was his own bedroom. It was his own bed. His wife was at his side, shaking him awake.

"Where am I?" he asked. "What day is it?"

"You're at home. It's Tuesday. You're having a bad dream."

"Tuesday the what?"

"Tuesday the thirteenth."

"Tuesday the thirteenth of what?"

"Tuesday the thirteenth of March."

"Tuesday the thirteenth of March of what?"

Angela, finally exasperated, grabbed the calendar from the wall and threw it at him. "It's 2007. What year are you living in?"

I took a moment to reorient and come to his senses. "I had that dream again. The one where you told me you were pregnant."

"You know I was kidding. If I'd known this would visit you over and over again, I wouldn't have done it. Would you get over it already?"

"I've been trying to shake it off for months. I just can't seem to."

"You're having a mid life crisis then. You're not able face the fact that you're a grandfather."

"I'm well beyond the age where I would have a midlife crisis," I said in defense. "That happens in the forties, right?"

"Mid life is middle of life. You always said you'd live to be 113. You're 53 now, so you're in the middle of your life."

"By that account, I still have a few years before I arrive. I'm still young then. Crisis averted."

This new revelation seemed to give I a second wind.

"Whatever," was Angela's only reply.

I's realization that he had yet to reach mid life was a relief to him, and a recognition that he still had a life to live. His own philosophy to not be the type of rockstar that flamed out and burned out and dropped out caused him to wonder if he had missed out on the type of life that he should have had. The one that his position dictated that he should have had. Had he made a mistake?

The first order of business was to dress like the rockstar he used to be. He still held on to the costumes that he had worn in concert. Tyler had asked him about them, had wanted to try them on, but they were off limits. I hadn't even tried them on since 1978, nearly 30 years ago. The first thing that he tried were the stage pants, skin tight and bulge revealing. Slipping into the first leg, then into the second, he was able to pull them almost to mid thigh. Taking a deep breath, he pulled them up higher and managed to get the waist band up to his middle section. The material was made to stretch, but even it had its limits. Trying the zipper proved to be an impossible task, even after he sucked in as much breath into his chest. The final insult was the sound of fabric ripping, shredding down the thighs and splitting in the back. The pants ruined, he peeled them off and examined them. Useless, even as a museum piece.

"Certainly the shirt will fit. Those were always roomy," he told himself. He slipped it over his head and took a look in the mirror. What he saw was not a pretty sight. Although roomy, almost blousy, in the past, it tightened up where it didn't do so before. But the real problem was that not only was it thirty years out of style, it also looked plain ridiculous on a fifty-three year old man, rockstar or not.

He didn't even bother with the fringed leather vest. He already knew that it looked ridiculous, even in the seventies. He tossed it on the pile with the rest.

The old platform shoes still fit, and added three more inches to his six foot frame, but when he tried to take a step, he nearly tripped on his own feet. When he did gain his balance, they thundered for every step taken. Off they came.

The pi├Ęce de resistance was the signature feathered hat. It had been the accessory that came to be the most single recognizable aspect of I Mall's personality. It fit, too, but the feather hadn't weathered well, and bits of it got stuck up his nose and sent him into a fit of sneezing.

Wiping his nose afterward, he decided that the rockstar look was no longer feasible. Certainly, however, he still had the chops to lay out the best sounds possible. His show bass and amp had been sequestered in a closet since the last time he had tried to play. The result back then had not been his best, but he figured he now knew what his mistakes had been, and made sure to avoid them. Practicing for a couple of hours in silence before plugging the amp in had him ready, and the first notes out were as bad as they could possibly be. Trying to tune the strings, he could not find any setting that made it sound good. Giving a final twist, one of the strings broke lashing across his face.

"Being a rockstar is a lot harder that I remembered it to be," he complained. "And look at my hands. I've got blisters on my fingers!"

I had to face the facts. It appeared that his days partying like a rockstar were well behind him, despite the fact that he had not yet even reached middle age.