Darken the city, night is a wire
Steam in the subway, earth is a afire
Do do do do do do do dodo dododo dodo
                               "Hungry Like A Wolf," 1982

On the way home from school, Duran Duran suddenly played on the radio.

“9th grade!” I shouted.

My son just gawped at me until I provided more contextual information.

“9th grade was all about Duran Duran,” I explained.

“It has a good polka beat,” I added, forfeiting any claim to a sensible answer from my son’s perspective. Gawping turned to bug-eyed astonishment, tinged with a shade of disbelief. I had to be messing with him.

No such luck. This was all true.

“Your Auntie Erin and I used to listen to this all the time. When we were visiting our grandparents, your great-grandparents, we could play it loud all over the house because Dad – your Grandpa Rich – wired up speakers so we could crank the record (oh, yeah, this was when there were records) in the bedroom in the back (where we stay when we visit Grandpa Rich and Grandma Pam, do you remember?) and we could hear the music play all over the house.

Sorting through this syntactical nightmare, Miles grasped the one fact that did not seem to imply that his mother had lost all her marbles. “Grandpa wired speakers ALL OVER THE HOUSE?” Not my point at all.

“Yes, yes, it was great.” I pushed past this apparently amazing feat of DIYing to get back to the meat of my story. “When we played this record one day, our Grandpa (your great-grandpa, remember?) suddenly announced that this song had a great polka beat. He yelled for Ginga (your great-grandmother) and called, ‘Virginia, BRING ME MY BONES!’ Those are instruments. Not actual bones. Though he was a doctor, so maybe he did have a skeleton somewhere, but I never saw one. Anyway, you know your stick instruments, the brown ones that we always tell you to be careful with –”

“Yessssssssssss,” he sighed, eye rolls evident in his tone of voice.

“Well, those are your great-grandfather’s ACTUAL BONES. The instrument kind. Ginga brought the bones, and we kept playing Duran Duran really loud, and Grandpa started polkaing all around the kitchen, playing his bones, off tempo, and talking about how great the music was. We were shocked and I thought ‘Why can’t we have normal grandparents like everyone else, grandparents who cackle “Turn that junk DOWN, you whippersnappers!’ but no such luck. Ginga was not as big of a Duran Duran fan, though. She preferred Wham!. Oh well.”

In the sudden silence as the music ended and the DJ began his spiel, my son continued to stare at me, struck dumb by this bizarre recitation.

“I never had normal grandparents, but it is a good memory.”

I’m sure my son was thinking that the weird apple clearly did not fall far from the weird apple tree, but I wonder if there will be good (annoying) (no, good) musical memories that he tells when I am long gone.

Grandpa, I hope you are polkaing your heart out to Duran Duran wherever you are now. Don’t let anyone turn your music down.

8 thoughts on “Homecoming

  1. I love Duran Duran…Her name was Rio and she dances in the sand….OMG I have to add them to my playlist. Thank you….Great post about a mom and her son connecting over music that brings us right back to the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your slice had me bust a gut laughing. Love the colorful personalities and voices in this piece. My favorite line has got to be “Bring me my bones!” Who wants boring grandparents?


  3. Awww so sweet. The back and forth you’re having with this memory yourself and the cringe of relaying it to your son who, try as he may, just can’t grasp what this memory felt like. It really is a wonderful slice in that regard. I loved it. AND THE BONES! I’m dying laughing at that. I’ve heard my neighbor who plays in a polka band call them that and NEVER knew until now. So big thanks for that!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your fabulous story brought both laughter and tears! The multi-generational connections, and the oh-so-vivid reaction from your son. When my kids were tweens and teens and I would start singing along to a song that they thought was *new* their reactions were equally priceless.

    Liked by 1 person

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