Prince is dead. A sad fact, to be sure, but I must admit that I don’t share the same sense of loss as many of you. I only have room in my life for one tiny purple man, and that man for me is, and has always been, Willy Wonka. For every choice lyric or quote you give me from Prince, I can easily fire one back from the madman of candy:
- Anything you want to, do it; want to change the world… there’s nothing to it.
- A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.
- If the good Lord had intended us to walk, he wouldn’t have invented roller skates.
I had an epiphany yesterday and it actually happened before learning about Prince’s death. I needed an epiphany, as I have been struggling a bit lately. Caught up in my own head, I have recently been tortured by all the questions in life which seek to derail an otherwise optimistic existence, questions like, “Will my son ever learn to lift the toilet seat?” or “Why does the pharmacist hate me so much?” I have let life’s tiny irritations accumulate to the point where they almost fully cloud my field of vision. I noticed my problem this week when I thanked my wife for cleaning the entire kitchen and doing the dishes by telling her she forgot to start the dishwasher. (Sorry Amy!) All the insignificant minutiae details of a stay-at-home parent life have caused me to fall into a sense of ennui. This is particularly troubling because I don’t know what that word means. I can’t see the forest because of the trees.
So what was this epiphany? My discovery came, as many good things in life do, from one single word: Kennyfuckinloggins. “Danger Zone” came on the radio yesterday while I was in my car and electricity shot through my veins. Obviously, it wasn’t words that had an impact, for the song is really just an undecipherable ode to why you shouldn’t pronounce the “G” in words that end in “ING.” (Seriously ! Listen to the song and here is what you get: revvin’, howlin’, beggin’, headin’, spreadin’, jumpin’, and shovin’. Its like a description of the RNC convention if it were held in the deep south! I’m all for colloquial pronunciation, but sometimes even Kenny takes it too far.)
No, the song was able to inspire me with its unique ability to conjure the image of grown men playing volleyball while wearing blue jeans and no shirt. (In case you were born in a barn, the song is the mainstay of the soundtrack to the movie, “Top Gun.”) Oh sure, the guys could have put on shorts and tee-shirts to finally settle who the most manly men were, but how homo-erotic would that be? Fuck that. They greased up their finally chiseled torsos, strutted around like dopey roosters and provided, in slow-motion at times, enough sexual energy to make straight women, gay men, and casual volleyball lovers all lose their damn minds.
So here’s where we get to my epiphany. Those men, those heroes, had a lot on their mind at the time. Maverick had daddy issues, the guy from ER dies, there’s sexual tension everywhere, and, to top it all off, the US was under attack. Holy shit! Yet, with all that is going on, the flyboys were able to shed their woes (and their shirts!) to get down to the heart of the matter. They could have easily not played, or played in appropriate athletic attire. But they didn’t. They put on their jeans, lubed up their glorious pecs, abs, biceps and deltoids and did their best impression of Karch Kiraly, all while wearing police sunglasses. USA! USA! USA!
When the song came on, I felt the parallels to my own life immediately. The world around me is constantly pressuring me to keep my proverbial volleyball shirt on. “Don’t enjoy your son,” life whispered to me, “concentrate on his bathroom etiquette.” “Harp on the negatives,” it continued, “no matter what the people in your life do for you.” The whispering continued, drawing me farther and farther away from where I want to be. When I heard the “Danger Zone, I realized, I don’t want to live like that! Somewhere on Macarthur boulevard, after dropping Malcolm off at school, I decided I wasn’t going to let life drag me into the abyss. Think Goose or Iceman obsessed about their pharmacist’s steely glare? No! They played with vigor and sunscreen, hugging and high-fiving until the large crowd that had gathered was in a virtual frenzy. That’s what I want to do.
Obviously, I don’t think this means I should play more semi-naked volleyball. Rather, my discovery is that I need to seize the day. If I don’t thoroughly enjoy this moment, it will be gone, replaced with something that is actually shitty. I don’t want to waste any more time on hangups. As often I can muster the strength, I need to celebrate those around me and the amazing opportunities that life offers. I want to be a spectacular husband! I want to be a great dad! I want my experience with everyone, whether as a friend, son, or prescription picker upper, to think, “Damn, that kid is bringing it!” Put simply, I need to stop getting in the way of myself. Willy Wonka said, “If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it.” Paradise: I coming for you!
Then again, Wonka also said, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.” Maybe I just need to drink more.