When my youngest son, Lucas, was a baby, his bedtime routine was fairly simple — he had a bath in a baby wash chosen for the way it enhanced that “baby smell,” I wrapped him in clean cotton pajamas and, with his hair still damp, bundled him onto my lap for his bottle and story. Then, after we turned out the lights (and I finished swooning from smelling his baby hair), I tucked him into his crib and sang to him in the dark. The child was surprisingly tolerant of my wretched warbling and invented songs, and grew to enjoy music in spite of it.
One afternoon, just after he turned two, however, something changed. He was strapped in the back of my old white Jeep, his older brother beside him, and Semisonic’s song “Closing Time” came on the radio. Lucas’s little jaw dropped, his juicy lower lip, slick with drool, hung down low. My toddler was utterly entranced by this song of last calls, gathered coats, found friends, and reluctant exits.
His love for this mournful song grew to the point where we learned not to interrupt his listening, never to change the station.
One night, some film industry friends were meeting at a place called the Chick ‘N’ Deli, a Toronto Landmark featuring to-die-for wings and live jazz or rock music, depending on the night. This was back in the days of smoke-filled bars, but it was a quiet night, the air was less opaque than usual, so we all figured…eh, let’s give the kids an adult experience.
They loved it. We had a table right beside the band, who played classic rock all night, and our collective six kids spent the evening gobbling wings and dancing in front of the band. Lucas was especially intrigued and spent much of his time sitting on the edge of the stage and staring at the instruments.
Then, just as we gathered our coats, the band launched into none other than “Closing Time.” Lucas froze, eyes wide beneath his long shiny bangs. He stood perfectly still, not two feet from the musicians, until the song was over and the musicians began packing up.
I’ll never forget his moment. His joy. And my awe that something had touched my baby that deeply.
Lucas eventually grew out of his fascination with this song, but I never did. Every time I hear it, still, I’m taken right back to that delicious little face filled with wonder.
“Closing Time” has been running through my head all day in anticipation of my last Tuesday post. In particular, the last line:
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
We debs may be shifting over to allow the debs of 2008 to shine, but don’t turn out the lights on us just yet. We still have plenty of new beginnings in store.