I recently experienced a Boomer mom's dream come true: my son's indie rock band was in Rolling Stone online twice in one month (in the halcyon days before the Tsarnaev controversy). There they were in a gallery of the 22 must-hear albums of the summer, in the company of superstar artists like Kanye West and John Legend. What?!
And there was Speedy Ortiz again, this time in a feature article about their first full-length album, Major Arcana. My son Daniel (stage name: Darl) was quoted on the virtues of free basement shows as compared with larger venues because, as he put it, "people are just a lot more drunk."
I couldn't be more proud.
No, really, I couldn't be more proud! After all, what's cooler for a Boomer than having a rock star in the house? Even if he's recently graduated college and is, literally, back in the house?
But, I'm also a Jewish mother. Shouldn't I want my son to be a doctor or a lawyer or a finance guy, pulling down a high five-figure income (for starters) and putting that recent bachelor's degree to good use? In other words, pursuing a stable, lucrative career so that my future grandchildren aren't raised on the road, far away from their Bubbe and Zayde, criss-crossing the country in a rented van, eating beef jerky and guzzling Red Bull.
And yet, I can't help but be easily pulled back to my Boomer mom side, knowing full well how hard it is to make it in the music industry these days. In fact, despite the buzz about the band, until recently Daniel was living a Clark Kent/Superman kind of life: grilling hot dogs at Shake Shack by day and playing bass with Speedy Ortiz to a crowd of sweaty, drunk (apparently super drunk) partiers by night. Not exactly the Lear Jet-flying, Cristal-swilling, penthouse-living image that "rock star" evokes.
But a mother can always dream. And this mother dreams of rock stardom for her son.
And now that Speedy Ortiz has been in Rolling Stone, my dreams have expanded to include a cover photo, with each of the band members peering through round specs just like John Lennon on the first iconic cover.
And yet, the Jewish-worrier section of my brain, named the Larry David anterior insula, can't help but fret now that the band has become something of an overnight sensation. They could get hit with paternity suits (even Sadie, the band's frontwoman), be arrested for possession of large quantities of Pepto Bismal (too many burritos from questionable food trucks), or break up because Yoko kept sitting in on recording sessions and adding her "vocals" to key tracks. (Oh, sorry, I time traveled back to 1970 for a moment.) It would be so much better if they all just became accountants named Harvey instead.
And so, I'm torn between my visions of the band delivering a clever and ironic acceptance speech (with a heartfelt shout-out to their parents) at the Grammy's and an equally powerful vision of them in a contentious VH1 Behind the Music episode. Oy.
But, maybe I'm looking at this all wrong. Maybe I don't really need to choose between being a Boomer Mom or a Jewish mother. Why can't I be both?!
Here are a few possible ways I can imagine this playing out:
Scenario 1: Boomer Mom attends the band's Boston and New York shows, claps the loudest and longest, and attempts but fails to do that whistle thing where you stick your fingers awkwardly into your mouth and blow.
Jewish Mother qvells about the band to anyone and everyone who will listen (or anyone foolish enough to have friended me on Facebook).
Scenario 2: Boomer Mom stocks the fridge with PBR in case the band makes a pit stop at my house.
Jewish Mother calls, texts, and emails Daniel while he's on the road with messages like, "You never call, you never write. So, nu, is cell service really dead in every city you travel to?"
Scenario 3: Boomer Mom volunteers to be a roadie for the band, lugging amps, laying cable, and rigging lights (at least I think that's what roadies do).
Jewish Mother continually fusses over the band members, treating them (us) to occasional rooms and room service at a bed bug-free hotel. Then, after they trash the rooms, rock star-style, I clean up after them before maid service appears.
Ultimately, I guess there really is no reason to choose between two different kinds of mother identities. Because, when you combine Boomer Mom with Jewish Mother, you get Groupie Mom, and that's the most satisfying (and surely the most embarrassing) kind of mom there is.