Tuesday, July 24, 2012


So last Friday was Isaac's sixth birthday. Everybody who hasn't been raising him is shocked that he's that old already. Those of us at ground zero have felt every. single.day.

So Isaac's initial request for his birthday was to go to Chuck E. Cheese. Not looking forward to an afternoon cultivating a tension headache in a giant warehouse of screeching children that smells vaguely of feet and vomit, I searched for a more  palatable solution. Lo and Behold, as I walked off the subway one day, I saw an advertisement for the Firefly Festival, a three-day concert featuring two of Isaac's favorite rock bands, OK GO and Jack White (who also happens to be one of my favorites. Win/win.) A quick visit to the website confirmed that not only were both bands playing on the same day, but on ISAAC'S BIRTHDAY. Hell, yeah. But it's in Delaware. Four hours away. Ok. No problem. And the bands' sets are four hours apart. Yikes. But still do-able. Now to convince Isaac. My newly minted six-year-old has a keen nose for bullshit, so I knew I couldn't sugar coat this. No spin, no angles. He's the Walter Cronkite of six year olds.

"Isaac, how'd you like to go and see OK GO and Jack White on your birthday, INSTEAD of going to Chuck E. Cheese?"

Isaac cocks his head and squints at me from under his bangs. "INSTEAD of? Like, we don't go to Chuck E. Cheese AT ALL?"

I panic. A little sweat breaks out on my brow. What do I do? I can't read him. The kid's inscrutable.

"Um....we could go to Chuck E. Cheese......another day!"
"Another day?"
"Like, THIS summer?"


"Yeah, Isaac. This summer."

"Great! Let's go."

I feel like I got duped. Like he would have sprung for the concert anyway. Well played, son....

It doesn't occur to me to check ticket prices. When I do, I have a mini heart attack. Were music festivals this expensive when I went to my last one, some 6,234,834 years ago? The amount I'm spending on tickets for a family of four would have supported me for a freakin month back then. I march out to the backyard where my wife is and tell her the cost. She's as scandalized as I am, and we decide to scrap the whole thing. I go inside and stare at the computer screen, and then start checking the prices of other concerts. With a little research, I find that all the concerts that the younguns are going to these days cost a buttload of cash. Just like they always did, back when I would blow a whole check on a weekend of shows. I am not poor, but simply old. I buy the tickets.

The day comes, and we load up the car. Isaac has chosen to wear his new Captain America costume. I can't think of more appropriate garb. "People are going to love you, Isaac." And they did.

"WOOO! Captain America!!"
"Gimme five, man!"
"Can I get a picture with you??"

"A picture? SURE! Two dollars."
"Two. Dollars."

I vacillate between being mortified and being incredibly impressed. To my relief, they not only pay up, but it seems that Isaac made their night. The photo session includes many cool Captain America action poses, and ends in laughs, hugs, and several more dollars than Isaac asked for. He repeats this throughout the night, and nets nearly $20, which, coincidentally, is about one-tenth the cost of  his ticket.

I spend the six hours of the music festival with Jack (55 pounds of kid) on my shoulders, but when I feel him cheering, clapping, and grooving, it's like he's made out of helium. The night ends about an hour into Jack White's (incredible) set, when both boys decide that they've had enough. I can't count the number of inebriated 20-somethings who told me I was an "Awesome parent", which I'm not sure I know how to take. I certainly had a great time, and the boys did, too. I milked it as long as I could, until Jack pulled a full role-reversal on me at about 11:10pm, after nearly 8 hours of unabashed rock and roll, as he turned on his heel, and stalked off into the darkness.

"Where are you going, Jack?!!"

"I'm leaving."