My friends’ excuses for not coming to the Mike Doughty concert Saturday night include the following: Hockey game, college baseball game, tax prep, buddy’s wife’s birthday, too busy in general, leisure travel to Kansas City, semi-permanent relocation to San Francisco.
My very sporting wife has been my date to several Mike Doughty shows, but this one would have meant more time away from the baby after a hectic workweek. Not to mention a last-minute babysitter.
My mom convinced me to go alone. I wore my Mike Doughty t-shirt. I listened to his new live album on the hour-long drive up. Who cares if you’re “that guy” when you’re all by yourself? I geeked out, and it was awesome.
And this was a show for geeks. I sat maybe 12 feet from Doughty, who played a solo acoustic set, read from his memoir The Book of Drugs and dished on the gnarly dysfunctions of his former band Soul Coughing. When things weren’t too uncomfortably personal, the whole crowd seemed to quiver with nerdish glee. I could look in any direction and spot transfixed faces religiously mouthing the lyrics to “Sunken-Eyed Girl” or “Grey Ghost.”
A chatty trapeze enthusiast sat next to me, and we bonded over a shared longing for Magic Hat beer. She introduced me to some brainy pals, and by the time the show started I was in a group of like-minded Doughty fanatics. My new friend even shared her video:
In The Book of Drugs and again at the concert, Doughty said his abusive relationship with his Soul Coughing bandmates was a reflection of his screwed-up childhood in a military family. There’s a lesson here for parents. Encourage your children’s creativity. Let them feel good about their passions. Tell them it’s OK to be a geek.
By encouraging me to see my favorite musician, you saved me from a weekend of moping around the house. I would have resented my old friends instead of making new ones. I would have missed out on the kind of spiritual boost that keeps a stay-at-home dad going.
I’m not saying I would have wound up bumping bag after bag of heroin in a grimy Brooklyn apartment, but I think I’m a little bit better of a person because of that conversation with my mom. I hope I can pass it on to my son, along with this groovy autographed record: