Needless to say, by the end of the night, I was rather damp with perspiration. (We play three sets of just about non-stop music every night. No time for the weary drummer to rest. No need to give me any sympathy -- the band does not, God bless them.)
After I'd broken down the drums and loaded them into the car -- it was, like, 1:30 am by then; it had maybe dropped to a cozy 88 degrees outside -- I went back in to "dummy check" for stuff left behind and I bumped into one of our regular followers; a really nice guy, a little younger than us with a bald head and a quick smile.
|The not-so-old old guys.|
I laughed and he laughed. "You're way too old to be working this hard," he said.
I told him that I had just had a serious conversation, that night, with my fourteen-year-old son about his becoming my "roadie" when he starts driving.
The plan is that, when he gets behind the wheel in a couple of years, I'd pay him part of my nightly salary to set up and break down the drums. It would be a great part-time job for him during high school.
Logic aside, it was another chance for me, philosophically, to wrap my head around this getting-older business; this dance one has to do on the fuzzy floor between accepting age and fighting its detrimental effects. I'm only 48, for the love of Pete. But part of it is about learning to let our loved ones help us as the years pile up There is no shame in letting the vehicles of our virtual immortality (our sons and daughters) prop us up from to time, the way we did as they leared to do....hell...everything.
Machismo wants to brag about having walked uphill (both ways), barefoot and over broken glass to school but the wise man is just proud of having learned once he got there. I plan to play the drums until my arms fall of, but if I can put off that unfortunate day of limb-shedding for many years by harnessing the youthful energy and strength of my boys, why not? Will the audience watch me play a 32nd note fill around the kit and say, with a snort, "Well, yeah, that was fast, and he is, like, 86 years old, but I hear his son sets up the drums for him..."? Of course not.
We all should try to age with grace. We all want to keep our dignity. What we have to convince ourselves of is that our dignity does not suffer when we walk through our elder days under the gentle support of those who love us too much to judge us for -- for lack of a better term -- having to "repay" the gifts of strength and guidance we once gave them.
Anyway, I have to set up my own drums for at least two more years. And, no, Kurt the bass player, I will not use a smaller kit. (Okay -- maybe a little macho conviction is good...)