Kidnap Your Son

When I was living in St. Louis, Missouri, my son sent me a link to a musician he thought I might like. Hiromi Uehara is a Japanese jazz pianist, and Chris liked her animated approach to playing. I liked her music, and when I saw an advertisement for her appearance in a St. Louis jazz venue, I called my son in Mooresville, Indiana and asked him if he wanted to see her. I told Chris, a newly-minted 21-year-old, that I would come to Indiana to get him and take him to the concert in St. Louis, but I would have to hold him hostage for about a week. I played pool on two teams that played on different nights, and I wanted Chris to meet some of the players before we went to the concert.
Chris is a musician who plays drums, guitar and keyboards. His mother told me that, when he was young, he would ask her to put his radio on “the jazz station” so that he could fall asleep. I may have had some influence on his musical tastes, but he has taught me to appreciate artists that fall outside of my regular listening routine. I was excited about the prospect of introducing him to a live performance of the jazz bassist Stanley Clarke, and Hiromi. But first, we had to go to the pool room.
I picked up Chris on a Monday evening and on Tuesday evening, he met the first group of my pool-team buddies. I competed while he socialized, and enjoyed some adult beverages. On Wednesday, he met the second group of my pool players. But the jewel of the week was the performance of Stanley Clarke and Hiromi in the intimate environment of Jazz at the Bistro. Our seats were on the main floor, close to the bandstand, and we had an unrestricted view of the two musicians. Chris stood up during most of the performance, fascinated and intensely studying them. After the performance, we bought CDs; Chris had his autographed and had his picture taken with the jazz great and the pianist with the acrobatic style.
I don’t remember what Chris and I talked about in the week that he spent with me, except the joy of playing pool and the art of music. Once back in Indiana, his mother asked me what I had done: “All he wants to do is shoot pool!” I believe that, among my teammates and friends, he saw people close to his age who were skilled pool players, and realized that he did not have to get to my (advanced) age to achieve my level of skill on the pool table. He added pool to his store of knowledge, stacked somewhere near his musical skills.
Chris’ band, Autumn Androids, was recently hired as entertainment for a man’s 60th birthday party. They played in the man’s back yard under a large, lighted tent. Chris, the drummer, was positioned at the back of the band; a keyboard, lead guitar and bass player fronted the band. I positioned myself in front of the tent, proudly watching my son’s work. He called me later that night, saying that he was sorry that we had so little time to “hang” together. But I was more than proud of his art, his craft and his performance. I separated from Chris’ mother when he was four, and though he and his sister spent a lot of time with me in St. Louis, there is no way to make up for the lost days. Which is why, sometimes, you have to kidnap your son.