Hootenanny Hero

The window over my kitchen sink opened to a beautiful, crisp, sparkling autumn day. I stared out it in a pleasant, day-dreamy state of mind. The day had been a busy one, spent both indoors and out. Reaching down into the sink, I picked up a big brown potato and began to peal it.

A freshly baked apple pie sat cooling on a nearby counter. Its mouthwatering scent filled the air. I hungrily eyed its rich, flaky crust. While baking, sweet apple juice had bubbled up in one corner and formed a thick, sticky caramel-like substance. I happily remembered my mother’s delicious pies. This one would be just as good!

My fifteen-year-old daughter’s school bus came to a stop next to our driveway and Tammie got off. She slowly plodded toward our back door. The bus growled and rumbled as it accelerated up the hill.  While waiting for Tammie to come in, I opened the oven to check on our supper. The roast beef was beautifully browned and in no danger of drying out.

My daughter walked into the kitchen sniffing appreciatively. She said, “Mom, supper smells soooooo good!” From experience I knew she was hungry and wanted an after school snack. Placing a dish of sliced apples on the table, I sat down to visit. Before long she began to tell me about her day. Remembering that she hadn’t told me about the special concert she went to the night before, I asked, “Tammie…how was the ‘Verve Pipe’ concert? Did you enjoy it?

A big smile creased my daughter’s face. “It was awesome!”

“Did you have a good seat?” I asked.

“Better than that!” Tammie exclaimed. “I got to be in the mosh pit!”

“The WHAT?” I asked. “What is a mosh pit? It doesn’t sound like a place I’d want you to be in!”

Tammie laughed, “Oh Mom! A mosh pit is where kids can stand to be close to the stage!

Knowing that I was being fashioned, I primly said, “Oh. The words, ‘mosh pit’ sound dangerous.”

Tammie happily turned toward me and said cheerfully, “It IS a very dangerous place! I nearly fell down. A friend grabbed me. She probably saved my life! It’s a place where a person could easily get stomped to death.”

Making a face I said with irony, “Sounds like a wonderful place.”

“It’s really neat, Mom. The kids stand shoulder to shoulder. They jump up and down in time to the music. Two or three got up on the stage…that isn’t allowed…but before anyone could drag them off, they dove off the stage into the crowd and body surfed!”

“Body surfed?” My middle aged voice crackeled with ignorance.

“Body surfing is pretty cool, Mom. Everyone reaches up and propels the person around the room. I wrote a poem about it today at school!”

There were so many things I didn’t understand. I asked, “Tammie…do you know why the band calls itself ‘The Verve Pipe?’ What IS a verve pipe?”

Giving an unconcerned shrug Tammie said, “A verve pipe is a skateboard maneuver, I guess.” After a short pause she questioned, “Mom, did you ever go to concerts when you were young?

Rolling my eyes up, like I’d find the answer on the top of my brain, I thought for a while. “Hmmm” I said. “I don’t know if they had concerts in central Wisconsin back then. I DID go to a hootenanny once, though!”

Tammie laughed. “A hootenanny? What is THAT?”

Trying to give her a look of haughty superiority, I said, “A hootenanny is what happens when folk singers entertain and the audience sings along.”

My daughter and I looked at each other and burst into laughter. “With a giggle still in her voice Tammie finally questioned, “No…really, Mom. What is a hootenanny?”

Looking down my nose through my bifocals at her, I said, “From personal experience, I can tell you that at the hootenanny I attended, everyone sat on wooden benches in a semi-circle around the stage. Our musician played a guitar. It wasn’t electric. We put our arms over each other’s shoulders, swayed left and right and sang things like, ‘She’ll be coming around the mountain when she comes…Oh she’ll be coming around the mountain when she comes!’”

There was a long silence after I stopped singing. Tammie just sat staring at me with her mouth open. Finally, she said in a tone of reverent awe, “Wow! You really DID grow up in the 1960’s!”



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