I offer you a story of a recent Saturday evening that still feels like fiction.
In order for you to understand the disbelief and delight this memory stirs for me, I must first introduce you to my mother. (Hey! Put down that mom joke. I'm trying to tell a story here.)
My mom is an immigrant and the veritable poster child for the American dream. She endured a childhood in poverty and then puberty as a nonnative English speaker. Yet through mind-boggling hard work and determination, she managed to earn a college degree and a rewarding career. And she did it all by the letter of the law. Even married the son of a police officer for the cherry on top.
So shape that image in your mind: the virtuous, law-abiding paragon of melting-pot America.
Now come with me to the last hour of Leftapalooza, which my mom and I visited on a whim. The festival had only one act left to go, but Mom's OK paying the full cover to get in because it's for charity. So I grab a beer and she doesn't, and we find seats near the stage. That's when things got out of control.
Did I mention the last band was 40oz. to Freedom, a Sublime cover band? For anyone who isn't familiar, this was a ska group that wrote a song about looting stores and setting fires during the rioting of "April 29, 1992." And now here beside me is my adorable mom, in her bright silver pixie cut and "Peace, love, Zumba" T-shirt dancing like a madwoman while the lead singer holds out the mic so the crowd can sing "187 on a mother(bleep)in' cop."
"That one had a lot of bad language," Mom tells me between songs.
And yet the set goes on, and we keep dancing — her with aerobics-precise vigor and me with head-banging that is largely interrupted by laughter at the absurdity.
We clap and howl when the band says good night, and they come back on stage for an encore. "We have 'Santeria' and 'Date Rape' lined up," the lead singer tells us. "Whatdya want?"
At this point, I am floating on the energy of the evening and a not-insignificant buzz (Left Hand's Wicked Juju is a potent brew on an empty stomach), and this is apparently sufficient to induce me to start yelling "Date Rape" at the top of my lungs. For the shiggles. Because I figure there's no way this band will play that song during a family-friendly festival at an open-air venue in the middle of Longmont. And because in the heat of the moment, I forgot that my dance buddy is my MOM.
Then, in some strange and glorious act of solidarity, my mom — my MOM — starts also yelling out "Date Rape" like we're rooting for the home team.
And I was wrong. Because the band called our bluff by delivering a "Date Rape"-"Santeria" sandwich. Which means that, on top of everything else, I got to shout/sing that "I won't think twice to stick that barrel straight down Sancho's throat." Again — and I cannot emphasize this enough — next to my MOM. A woman who has never received so much as a parking ticket.
I will cherish the memory of this night forever.
Thanks, Mom. I love you.