Hey Fella

Dad in the middle.

You put yourself through college playing gigs and working odd shifts at the local hospital.

Were you buddies with the other guys in the picture?

Is one of them actually Al Anderson?

In my head I hear you say, “They were all nice fellas.” That was one of your words.

Years later, when I was about eight, you said to six of my boy friends who were playing a bit too rough for your liking, “Hey fellas, take it easy.”

To this day I’m not sure if they stopped because of the inherent authority of your presence, or because they were so startled by the word “fellas.”

You called Steve, my brother, “Ace.”

Even me, once in a while too.

Neither of us knows from where that came.

I imagine you taking a break at that gig in the picture. Outside the back door of this school auditorium? Dance hall? It’s freezing cold, and you’re all hunched over in stiff tuxedos with smoky breaths rising, cigarettes cupped in your hands. You talk about what song to play next, which girl is the prettiest, how much snow will fall.

Isn’t it funny, this life you had? I’ve spent countless years trying to understand the Dad you were. These days I wonder about the younger you…before you were a Dad, a husband, a businessman, a coach. When you were just a horn player. Just a fella.

What the young people are up to

Indulging me in a photo.

That’s my nephew. He’s 17. He currently has a girlfriend, a car, a cute dimple inherited from his Mom, a great sense of humor, intelligence and a sound heart. In case you couldn’t tell, I think he’s swell.

(NO FAVORITISM ZONE: My 14-year-old niece has all of these qualities and her own special ones, too, but I was unable to wrestle her into a photo. Stay tuned. I am undeterred.)

As part of my own personal research and for the good of the great advertising and marketing community, I thought I’d share a few insights from my long weekend with the teenage set.

  1. Why say it when you can text it? OMG, LMAO, TTFN.
  2. Thankfully, there’s still an appreciation for ’80s music. (My nephew LOVED the mix CD I made for my sister, although he grew a bit weary by the end of the 9-minute version of Donna Summer and Bab’s “Enough is Enough.”)
  3. Hollister, American Eagle and Abercrombie seem to be among the preferred uniform.
  4. Energy drinks are huge.
  5. Teenage boys can still eat an incredible amount of food in very little time.
  6. When it comes to communication or information, well, to quote Carrie Fisher, “instant gratification takes too long.”
  7. Video games look like movies.  (Be nice to me. I still remember PONG.)
  8. Parents can still be horribly embarrassing.
  9. Allowance has risen with inflation. (In fact, I am now considering letting someone adopt me.)
  10. Driving = freedom. (Even when your aunt is in the passenger seat, as long as she’s not embarrassing you.)