We were driving to our friend's house for an impromptu birthday party. It's about an hour away so we prepare for it like we do any road trip. Go potty. Let the dogs out to go potty. Make sure I've got my cell phone in my bag. Bring drinks and a couple of CDs.
As we were heading out the door, I shut off my tablet and began to set it on the kitchen counter but Will said, "hey, bring that so Katie can play some games" so I tucked it into my bag next to the family size bag of Ricola cough drops and a travel-size pouch of Puffs Will had brought me home one day when my allergies were particularly bad and it warmed my heart so much that he wanted me to have a soft tissue to blow my nose no matter where I go.
Will's always thinking of others. It's endearing.
Once buckled up, I inserted Patti Smith's "Horses" CD into the player and turned up the volume. I smiled at Will as we listened to Katie sing along to "Gloria". She's also a big fan of Sinead O'Connor. And Joni Mitchell. The Indigo Girls. Oh, and especially k.d. lang. My seven-year old daughter has the musical taste of a middle-aged lesbian.
That's what I thought, at least. Turns out, Katie likes all kinds of music. Katy Perry. Lady Gaga. Justin Bieber. Miley Cyrus. Daft Punk. Selena Gomez.
And it's all because Will's always thinking of others.
A couple of months ago I got into the passenger side of his car. As we started backing out of the driveway I heard some cheesy bubblegum song on the radio. At first I thought it was an ad, but it went on and on and soon I looked over at Will and said, "What the hell is this?"
"93.3" Will explained.
"93.3?" I asked, incredulous.
"Yeah, Mix 93.3. The radio station," Will explained.
"Yeah, I know what it is. I'm just surprised you're listening to it," I laughed.
Will just smiled and said, "It's for Katie."
Oh. He's that kind of daddy. Oh, I love him so. I should write a cheesy pop ballad about my deep love for my child's considerate baby daddy.
When I was a kid we were not allowed to listen to rock music if my dad was in the house or in the car. It was OK if we went into our bedrooms and played it on our stereos as long as we kept the volume at a reasonable level so Dad couldn't hear it, which was pretty easy since he's mostly deaf.
Dad hates rock music. Dad loves Big Band-era music. Glenn Miller. Benny Goodman. Count Basie. That sort of thing. Whenever I hear this kind of music nowadays, which is rare since most enthusiasts are dying off by now, I can smell the biscuits and gravy that Dad was whipping up in the kitchen on a Sunday morning. He whistled along to the music as he prepared breakfast.
It's a happy memory despite the fact that I hate biscuits and gravy. I hate breakfast first thing in the morning. I'm not a morning person. I can't eat anything until at least an hour after I wake up, especially nothing smothered in gravy. Yuck.
So I never got out of bed to join my mom and dad for their Sunday breakfasts, but I enjoyed lying there listening to Dad's music. I wouldn't want to listen to it every day. But it had its moments. Kinda like Dad himself.
Dad never reciprocated the appreciation of my kind of music. It's laughable to think of my dad rocking out to some of my vagina music. It makes me that much more thankful I married a man who, more of a Soundgarden and Phish man himself, switches the radio over to a teeny-bop top-40 station so Katie can learn what's going on in the world outside of what we like. So she'll be able to participate in sing-alongs at the next school skating party.
I really didn't want to turn off my Patti Smith record to listen to an auto-tuned celebrity. But thinking about how thoughtful Will is made me think if Katie might prefer to do something other than listen to her mom's music for a change. I remembered the tablet in my bag and pulled it out. I crooked my arm backwards to hand it to Katie who was sitting in the back seat directly behind me. I couldn't see her, so I just talked loudly at the windshield in front of me. "Do you want to play on the tablet?"
"Yeah!" she exclaimed.
I looked over at Will who looked over at me and wiggled his eyes and smiled.
Not five minutes later I felt a tap on my shoulder. Katie had powered off the tablet and was trying to hand it back to me.
"What? Don't you want to play more games?" I asked, hesitating to take it back from her so soon.
"No, I'm done playing games," Katie said. "I want to see the world."
"Yes! That's my girl!" I shouted. I looked over at Will and he was beaming.
After "Elegie," my favorite song on the album, I pushed the button on the player to switch it from CD to radio. The last song, "My Generation" ends with a loud noise that sounds like someone unplugging an amp and no matter how many times we listen to it, it always scares Katie. So I flipped over to the radio. It was already set to 93.3. I left it there for the rest of the trip. I enjoyed listening to Katie singing word for word and humming along when she didn't know the words, mimicking these superficial pop stars as she looked out the car window at the stars above this big world she wants to see.