A Prairie Christmas Chapter 6

That night at the dinner table, the moms tried to squelch our performance plans.
“Tim, you don’t understand how hard it is being two women together in Iowa.”
“Molly, my best friend in Miami has two moms. They had to leave Texas because of the prejudice and abuse.”
“I’m glad you don’t feel uncomfortable about it. But we try to fit in here as best possible.”
Mom piped up, “We’re so worried about that jungle song you want to perform downtown. We don’t need criticism that we’re raising our kids improperly.”

“Don’t worry, Wendy,” Amy piped up. “We already decided to do a different song. Andy invited the football team to the performance. We didn’t want to seem so immature, jumping all around.”
“Andy?” both moms asked. Tim 402
“That’s my new name. I already told y’all. We’s Amy, Angie and Andy – The Triplets.”
“Ever’one ats school already’s callin’ ‘im Andy,” Amy drawled.
Molly put her foot down. “Stop fracturing the English language. I won’t have you girls sounding like ignorant idiots.” Tim 234
“That’s jist how people really talk, Ma,” Angela protested.
Molly’s mouth dropped open. “Please don’t call me Ma.”
I realized I was just part of the family now, subject to the disputes and hurt feelings of everyday getting along. The honeymoon was over.
“How about we use proper English at home but kin be speakin’ New English at school and whens we be outs and ’bouts.”
The four of them looked at me. First the girls burst out laughing and finally the moms joined them.
“What’s this New English?” Mom asked.
“Just more relaxed with no stupid rules to make it be stilted and stiff, like Modern English. It’s how you speak when you’re not trying to impress everybody.”
“You should always try to make a good impression.”
“I got in a fight today for using a four syllable word with a jock.”
“We don’t want you fighting,” Molly worried.
“It wasn’t a real fight, Mom,” Amy remarked. “Andy had Brock arm wrestle with him. Now they’re best friends.”
“We had to sit with all the jocks at lunch,” Angela complained. “And we have to go to the football game on Friday night.”
“What about your performance?”
“It’s after the game, so all the jocks can come.”
“My goodness, next you girls will be cheerleaders.”
“That’s a great idea,” I blurted out. The girls gave me a really nasty look. “Well, that’s up to you two. Any more of that cake left?” I changed the subject.

I came up to the third floor and got icy looks, as if I had intruded.
“Maybe cheerleader is a step up from choir girl?” I suggested.
They bombarded me with pillows in mock feminist fury. I lay back and enjoyed submitting to the abuse. After they calmed down, we went through their record collection for a new song to perform. Their taste in music seemed pretty generic. They even had Bobby Sherman. I was back in Jr High reliving the horrors of dating the soc’ queen.
“Don’tcha have sumthin’ new and different from what ever’one already likes?”
“Sorry y’all find us borin.’”
“Maybe the moms have sumthin?’”
They gave me a mean look, but we ran downstairs and went through the other record collection in the house. It was all hippie and folk music from the early sixties – Dylan and Joan Baez. I found ‘Alice’s Restauarant’  and started telling the girls about hanging out there in Stockbridge. I couldn’t believe they thought it was cool.
“Well, it ain’t like there’s anythin’ cool ‘bout growin’ up on the Plains where the only music is by a cowboy who leaves his girl fer a horse,” Amy joked.
“Oh my gawd, ya knows real cowboys?” I kidded her.
“Jist their horses,” Angela scoffed.
We looked at each other and broke up. The moms came in, perturbed to find their records all over the floor. We explained that we were looking for the perfect song to perform.
“How about Dylan? Protest songs never go out of fashion,” Molly suggested holding up ‘Highway 61’.
“Dylan’s a poet but the protest movement ended with Vietnam. All those people are now burned-out Viet Vets, pig farming hippies or welfare mommies,” I argued.
“We could do a protest song and ask where has all the idealism gone,” Angela was serious.
“That is so spot on,” I kidded her.
“I’m serious, we’ll be singing to college kids. All they want, it seems, is to get a good job, settle down, and raise kids.”
“Yeah, what happened to ridin’ off inta the sunset in a Volkswagen van?” Amy added.
“I know exactly what you need,” Molly started going through her records, finally pulling out Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction. “It makes all these predictions in 1963, but none came true.
“Yeah,” as I started singing the song from memory.

The eastern world it tis explodin’,
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’,
You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’,
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’,
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin’,
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Don’t you understand, what I’m trying to say?
And Can’t you feel the fear that I’m feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no running away,
There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave,
Take a look around you, boy, it’s bound to scare you, boy,
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Yeah, my blood’s so mad, feels like coagulatin’,
I’m sittin’ here, just contemplatin’,
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
Handful of Senators don’t pass legislation,
And marches alone can’t bring integration,
When human respect is disintegratin’,
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China!
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for eight days in space,
But when your return, it’s the same old place,
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,
Hate your next door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace,
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Songwriters: SLOAN, P. F.
Eve Of Destruction lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

The moms were amazed I knew all the words and music. Tim 352
“Just immersion of the media culture,” I explained. “When you’re young everything is absorbed. It’s a matter of regurgitating it.”
The moms were whispering between themselves. I knew it was about me.
“What? I know you’re talking about me.”
“We can’t tell if you’re trying to snow us with big words or if you have to dumb-down your speech at school. What’s the real Andy like?”
“Y’all be surprised.”
The girls were all ears, too.
“You’ve been here just a week and life has never been this interesting before. You ready to talk about yourself and why you’re here?”
“No secrets with me. First, I really am happy to be here. I really want to fit in. I never had sisters before. In Miami I had friends; we treated each other like brothers. It just seems natural to treat the girls like sisters. We fight, make up, and laugh at each other. We all love singing. It’s fun teaching them the guitar. The doctor said I have multiple personalities. As long as I know it, I can keep all the different me’s from being overwhelming. I get emotional and cry a lot. I guess that makes me weird.”
The four of them paid full attention, letting me gather my thoughts. I figured they wanted to know what had happened that caused me to arrive at their front door in a state of collapse.
“If you’re wondering how I got so exhausted, it was because last summer all I lived on was catfish chowder. I was hiding out in the Everglades. I escaped from a crooked drug program with my little ‘brother,’ Tommy. We called ourselves Tom & Huck Tim 445 and pretended to be hayseeds whose parents had let us go on an adventure once the crops were in. We were adopted by a campground of hippies on Alligator Alley, where ‘gators made people disappear. That was our adventure. My story at school about ‘Gatotsaurus was essentially true. Tom did add some embellishments. The hippies learned we were fugitives so we couldn’t stay there. We lived  out in the swamp where no one looked for us. Last month. Tommy got an infected foot and had to go to the hospital. His brother showed up, trying to beat on Tommy. It blew up Tim 395 and I had to leave Florida. I hitched-hiked to Alabama, which was no fun. I realized I needed Mom. My friend Jay got the address, a bus ticket, let y’all know, and had my schools records transferred. I was Aiming high.”
“Who’s Jay?”
“He’s our assistant band manager. He’s the only person who helped me while I was hiding out. He’s 23.”
“What’s it like in a  band?” Amy wanted to know.
“The drummer’s dad was a lawyer. He was our manager. Jay works for him, so he had to take care of all the details. He’s great. I should call him.
“And who’s Jace?” Mom asked.
I explained the Teen Jesus legend, how it grew and the climax at Easter Mass when Jace was resurrected. Tim 228 They didn’t really believe all of it. Teen Jesus was like ‘Gatorsaurus.

“You really played at St Patrick’s Cathedral?” Amy was amazed.
“Yeah, and Abyssinian Baptist, plus lots of other places. Once you start playing, you just get into the music and forget about who’s there.”
“When we play, I just watch you and try to follow,” Angela noted.
“Once you have more confidence, you will follow your heart, that’s where the music lays. Playing together means all our hearts are united.”
“I feel like I am being hugged when I play.”
“That’s Teen Jesus.”
“I actually am feeling him?” Tim 389
“When you open your heart to him, it makes him so happy. Like when someone smiles, you can’t help smiling too.”
“It sounds like a cult,” Molly was skeptical.
“Cults are in your head – someone telling you what to think. Jace is in your heart showing you how to feel.”
“Still sounds like a cult, if you have to stop thinking to believe in it.”
“Jace isn’t saying to stop thinking, but just believe in your own feelings.”
“Look where it got you,” Angela snarked.
“I can’t deny that – the most beautiful family in the world. I always Aim High.”
My sarcastic hyperbole was wearing thin.
“Don’t you worry the constant jokes you play will come back to bite you?” Angela remained on the attack. “The  football players plan to be on the Bowling team this winter. There is no bowling team.”
“You’re right. That explains why I was in so much trouble and ended up here. The band is finished. The law is after me after they shot and killed Jace’s dog and endangered my friends. Dad refused to back me up. My lawyer says I’m unsupervisable. So, here I am.”
“Well, you’re welcome here. Just don’t play jokes on everyone. The girls are really looking forward to singing in public. We were concerned that running around acting like monkeys would create the wrong impression,” Mom summed up the concerns.
The new, involved Mom was throwing me off my game.
“We’ve already scrapped the monkey song,” Amy took my side.
“It was silly, but a protest song may be too serious. The college crowd may see us as just kids.”
“The whole point is to express our true feelings. If we’re posing as pseudo-intellectuals, no one will take us seriously.”
“So what is the point of doing an old protest song?” Angela asked.
“It was written when the times they were a’changing. Now the times have changed. We’re questioning what our role is in a new world. The Sixies are over. What’s next?”
“Do you believe that you’ll get what you demand?” Molly was the voice of reason.
“Your generation ended the war, made 18 the age we get rights to vote, drink, and be adults. Feminism and integration are human rights now. Where are the new battles or do we just kick back and enjoy our privileges?”
“You will have your own challenges, just wait until you grow up,” Molly demanded.
“That assumes we can’t do what we want now. What you’re suggesting is we be a Lost Generation.”
“That’s what we were in the Fifties. We felt lucky until the Sixties kids were so angry about the state of everything.
“We just want to challenge the crowd to think about what kind of world they are entering. As entertainers we can speak and sing about those challenges.”
“What’s the plan for Friday night?”
“We’ll do ‘Eve of Destruction,” and then talk with the crowd. Maybe we’ll get to do a second song, depending on the reception we get.”
“Can we attend. It sounds pretty interesting,” the moms asked.
“It’s got to be exciting, too. But not in a silly way, like the monkey song. The three of us have to figure out what song to do at the end our performance. We’ll surprise you.”
“I feel better about your motives. No mother wants to see her daughter acting like a jungle bunny,” Molly concluded.
“That’s kinda racist, Molly,” I accused her.
“Well, you’re being sexist,” she rejoined.
“My, what a terrible family we’ve become,” Mom joked and everyone laughed to break the tension.
“We’ll be on the third floor, working on a second song”

First I decided to call Jay. I needed some male reassurance in the face of all the female bonding in my household.
“You’re no longer Mr. deBowser?” he joked after accepting the collect call.
“Actually, I’m now Andy here in Ames.”
“What can I do for you, Andy Ames?” we both laughed.
“I miss you Jay. You did so much for the band. All summer, hiding out in the Everglades, you were my only contact with the real world.”
“Just trying to be a good assistant manager.”
“We felt it was more personal. We were only half-kidding when we flirted with you.”
“You two were so cute. It was more fun than anything. How’s it going up in Iowa.”
“Except for having a nervous breakdown when I finally got here, it’s working out great. I’ve started a new band with my twin step sisters; we’re the Triplets, Amy, Angie and Andy.”
“The Hillbilly Brothers are history?”
“Life moves on. Any word on how Tommy’s doing?”
“He calls me all the time – something about now that he’s 15, he wants you to call him. Other than being lovelorn, he’s doing well with his foster parents; they’re older and let him do whatever he wants. We still need him to testify about the abuses at the Program.”
“Those people are perverted crooks.”
“The State’s Attorney has investigated all the kids who were institutionalized as hopeless psychotics. Almost all of them were found to be normal, other than the trauma of being locked up for life. The Herald had John do a series on them. He’s no longer a cub reporter.”
“I’ll always call him Jimmy Olsen. Let me write down Tommy’s number so I can call him. I had told him we couldn’t be boyfriends because he was too young. He pointed out that Jace was 15 when he was my boyfriend. We just had fun, being Tom & Huck, living in the Everglades, as kids.”
“Anything else I can do for you?”
“Oh, yeah. Can you get a script for the TV show ‘Little House on the Prairie?’  I convinced my English teacher to let the class put on a performance. The best episode from last season is ‘The School Dance.’”
“That sounds awfully ‘normal’ for you, Tim, er Andy.”
“That’s me, just trying to fit in.”
“Well, don’t change too much, you’re a tremendous kid.”
“Don’t worry. I’m saving myself for you, Jay, when we’re both in our twenties.”
“Well, you’ve got competition. I got married this summer.”
“What, you’re not gay?”
“Just with you two and only on the phone.”
“Well, congratulations. Another youthful dream shattered. I swear you were leading us on.” Tim 399
“You were unstoppable. It was fun being the object of your attention. I always felt comfortable teasing you.”
“One last thing. Can you call the Stones and find out if Jack is coming home for Christmas?”
“Sure thing. But don’t try coming back to Florida until your 18.”
“Yes sir, Mr. Jay.”
I ran upstairs where the girls had been waiting for me. They had all their records spread out on the floor, searching for a song they knew, to be the second song on Friday.
“Anything seem appropriate?” I asked.
They were flummoxed, with no clue what they were looking for.
“It has to be a song that challenges all of us, high school and college kids alike
“All these songs are sappy love songs.”
“We’ll have to get outside your comfort zones, otherwise it’s not challenging.”
“Like disco? We hate disco.”
“Why?”
“The way people dress and act. It’s so gay.”
“So, you’re into heavy metal? – that’s the opposite of disco.”
“We like music that makes us feel good, like the Beatles.”
“How about Church music?” Amy suggested.
“Is that why you don’t like gays because the Church says it’s bad?”
“What about people who smoke, that’s bad for you?”
“I guess smoking is a challenge. It’s hard to stop.”
“Maybe there are more important things than personal habits,” Angela said seriously.
“Ah, the choir girl speaks,” I kidded.
“Well, we can’t preach to kids older than we are but we could do a gospel song to indicate that spirituality is important.”
Had I unleashed an angel or a prophet?
“We could finish with ‘Spirit in the Sky,’” Amy suggested. She went over to the piano in the corner and played the opening chords. I showed Angela the A major chord that is the foundation of the song, strumming  to get the spooky sense of the song. Amy started singing, with us joining in.

When I die and
They lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place
That’s the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go
When I die
When I die and they
Lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place
That’s the best
Prepare yourself
You know it’s a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that
When you die
You’re gonna go to
The spirit in the sky
Gonna go to the spirit in the sky
That’s where you’re gonna go
When you die
When you die and
They lay you to rest
You’re gonna go to
The place that’s the best
Never been a sinner
He never sinned
I got a friend in Jesus
So you know that
When I die
He’s gonna set me up
With the spirit in the sky
Set me up with
The spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna
Go when I die
When I die and they
Lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place
That’s the best
I’m gonna go to the place
That’s the best
I’m gonna go to the place
That’s the best
Songwriters: GREENBAUM, NORMAN
© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Jace suddenly appeared, my personal spirit in the sky. I had thought he was busy with his other soul partners. The song must mean something to him. I was singing to him, which the girls noticed.
“Are you in touch with Jace,” Amy asked once we finished.
“Yeah, he appeared once we started this song.
“Sounds like he approves,” Angela agreed. “Can we see him, too.”
My heart skipped a beat as they were saying they wanted him in their hearts.
“Let’s sing it to him. Usually you have to feel him before you can see him,” I suggested.
We restarted the song, everyone singing from the first line. I swore it sounded even better. As Jace hugged each sister, we all started to glow. Of course, the tears started flowing on my part, getting worse as the song continued. Tim 190 As we finished, both sisters came over and hugged me. Jace joined in and all of us were crying. Jace’s wispy white tears floated down on us. The girls and I were enveloped. They tried to hold the silver tears but they popped like soap bubbles when touched.
“He’s in your hearts for sure now,” I declared.
They were speechless until Amy asked, “What does he look like? Will I ever see him?”
“It’s just a matter of time. I think he’s the most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen. Not pretty, just rough features with a long face surrounded by long blonde hair. Konstantin02 His eyes are sparkling blue with long lashes. His hands are long-fingered, perfect for guitar. When he’s happy, he has what I call the goofy grin.
“You love him, don’t you?” Angela realized.
“When he died, I couldn’t let him go. He was always with me until Easter service when he was absorbed into the Teen Jesus legend. When I was locked up, it was like my heart was locked up too. Even after I escaped, I couldn’t reach him. Only since I got here has he returned.”
“You escaped from jail,” they both exclaimed. “Why were you locked up?”
“That’s a long story.”
I related the Tom & Huck adventures on Alligator Alley, repeating the ‘Gatorsurus tale I had told Brock and omitting the horrors of ‘On the Road’ with the truckers. They were incredulous about their role in my dream before I came to Ames.
“Before it gets too late, we need to go over the songs we can play on Friday,” I tried to get us back on track.
“The point is to get the crowd thinking about how our generation differs from the 60’s protesters,” Angela summarized.
“We’ll talk with them and try to get them to suggest songs that speak to their collective unconscious,” Amy stated.
We both stared at her, shocked that she sounded so erudite.
“Gosh, Amy, do you even know what the unconscious is,” Angela challenged her.
“It’s what you’ll be when I knock you out for thinking I’m just an airhead.”
“Whoa,” I interceded, “let’s keep our act together. But, she’s right, Angie. We’ve got to wake them up. A little shock value may do it.”
“I’m not doing some song like the monkey dance that makes us look foolish.,” Angela objected.
I thought for a second, and then started the chords on electric guitar for my favorite Stooges song, ‘I Wanna be your Dog.’
“That’s pretty heavy metal,” Amy worried.
“Wait ‘til I sing the words,” I warned them, doing my best Iggy impersonation:

“Come on
So messed up I want you here
In my room I want you here
Now we are gonna be face to face
And I’ll lay right down in my favorite place.
Now I wanna be your dog
Now I wanna be your dog
Now I wanna be your dog
Now I wanna be your dog
Come on
Now I’m ready to close my eyes
Now I’m ready to close my mind
Now I’m ready to feel your hand
And lose my heart in the burning sand.
Now I wanna be your dog.”

Songwriters: OSTERBERG, JAMES / ASHETON, SCOTT / ASHETON, RONALD / ALEXANDER, DAVID
© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

The girls were in hysterics. I told them I’d crawl around and they could put a dog collar and leash on me and lead me through the crowd while I sang.
“What kinda message is that,” Angela always the literalist said.
“Pure nihilism. It’s what happens when nobody has a clue of what they want.”
“A dog’s life?”
“More the oppression of the leash,” I joked.
“So instead of putting your faith in Jesus, you end up on a short leash,” Angela saw the point.
“Reading left to right, it’s god; right to left, it’s dog.”
“That’s too simple a solution. There must be an alternative.”
“How ‘bout Dylan’s ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door?’” I suggested, playing intro.

“Mama, take this badge off of me
I can’t use it anymore
It’s gettin’ dark, too dark to see
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore
That long black cloud is comin’ down
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door”

Songwriters: BOB DYLAN
© BOB DYLAN MUSIC CO

“Cool,” Amy decided. “It brings us back to 1963 and the protest movement. Can we rewrite history?”
“All you can do is learn not to repeat it,” Angela repeated her school lesson.
“Hope and despair. It’s all how everyone plays it.”
“We are so deep,” Amy stated.

We spent the next two hours teaching each other the chords and words. The girls ran downstairs and came back with a dog collar and leash and reveled on leading me around the room, making me sit, roll over and beg, all while I channeled Iggy Pop. Max was watching from the corner, with his paw over his eyes. Tim 317
“Have you heard the new Paul McCartney song, ‘Let ‘em In?’” Angela asked. She went over to the piano and knocked it out, playing and singing.

“Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Do me a favor
Open the door and let ’em in
Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Do me a favor
Open the door and let ’em in, yeah, let ’em in
Sister Suzie, brother John
Martin Luther, Phil and Don
Brother Michael, auntie Gin
Open the door and let ’em in, yeah
Sister Suzie, brother John
Martin Luther, Phil and Don
Uncle Ernie, auntie Gin
Open the door and let ’em in, yeah
Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Do me a favor
Open the door and let ’em in, ooh yeah, let ’em in
Sister Suzie, brother John
Martin Luther, Phil and Don
Uncle Earnie, uncle Lin
Open the door and let ’em in, yeah
Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Do me a favor
Open the door and let ’em in, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah”

Songwriters: MCCARTNEY
© Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

 

You play keyboards?” She had surprised me. “That’s so great.”
“You think we’re just mindless choir girls?” Amy laughed.
“That’s five songs we can do Friday.”
“Let’s just do ‘Eve’ and see how it goes from there.
“We’re totally prepared. Do I have ta wear the dog collar all night?”
“Of course,” they both agreed.

I was so excited I couldn’t get to sleep. Lying there, I started missing Tommy badly. Tim 287 All the stories I had told the girls about Tom & Huck. I had made sure I didn’t fall in love with him, but here I was aching from missing him. I made myself ignore the raging hard-on these thoughts caused. I swore I would call him the next day after school.

Soon enough the girls were knocking on my door to get me ready for school.
“I kin dress myself,” I drawled.
“Yeah, dress for distress.”
“Next y’all be makin’ me wear a dress.”
“Would you?”
They were out of control. I agreed they could do my hair. I wasn’t about to let them chose my underwear, that was Jack’s fetish. I came down for breakfast in bowling drag. Living with four females wasn’t drag enough.
“You look cute today,” Mom complimented.
“Have to, if we want to recruit for the bowling team.”
“All the football players have already signed up. Do we need to recruit?” Angela questioned.
“We need an equal number of girls. It’s a co-ed sport.”
The girls looked stunned. “Girls don’t play sports.”
“You mean you don’t want to play?”
“We don’t wanna play with boys.”
“Just ‘cause our moms are lesbos don’t mean y’all havta be,” I drawled.
“Language,” Molly yelled.
“Oh, I mean same-sex couple,” I apologized.
“I meant your fake country boy accent.”
“Ya kin take the boy outta the country but not the country outta the boy.”
“I thought we agreed that proper English was to be spoken at home,” Mom asserted.
“Sorry. I kinda fall into it when I’s havin’ fun.”
They all laughed.
“Well, clear your dishes and get ready for school.”
“Yes ‘em.”

The girls were laughing all the way to school. I secretly promised not to act the clown in class. We had mostly the same classes and sat together. At lunch we went to the jock table and sat down. The boys stopped talking, either shy in front of girls or because they were being misogynistic. Brock came and made us push down so he could sit next to me. Angela ended up standing with no place to slide over. The cutest boy made space for her making me slightly jealous. She got all red in the face, but the boy put on the charm in order to impress his buddies. They soon were having a real conversation. Everyone else relaxed, making us feel at home. Another boy switched his seat to sit with Amy, making Brock and me slide the other direction.
“You boys still wanna be on the bowlin’ team? We need to recruit girls now.”
“They’s got cheerleaders for bowling?”
“No, duffus. It’s a co-ed sport. Ya neva heard ‘bouts mixed leagues?”
“Girls don’t play sports.”
“Y’all be surprised how competitive they kin be. Once we git a couple of girls to join, they be a’flockin.’” I asserted.
“How’s we gonna git the first girls?” Brock asked.
“They be a’sittin’ right here.”
“Oh. Amy and Angie, y’all wants ta be on the bowlin’ team?” Brock was all red-faced.
“Only if’n y’all be the cheerleaders for us,” Amy joked. Tim 440
His posse laughed at Brock until he gave them a mean look, quickly shutting down the ridicule.
We all agreed to start practice once football was over. We planned to join a mixed winter league.

I called Jay before English. He had found the script I had asked him to get. It was being mailed to Hyland Avenue. I told the teacher I had obtained a script so we could make copies when it arrived. She said she would decide who would play the roles. I suggested I should be a musician since the episode was about the school dance.
“That is one of my favorite shows,” she gushed. I was working on an A+ to catch up with Robby. I hoped it didn’t include giving head. Then I felt weird about being too gay. Why was eating pussy any different from giving head? I started getting hard in class until Angela punched me on the arm, deflating the beast. Maybe she was showing non-sisterly attention. I was over-thinking things.

Friday night came and the three of us Triplets were at the football game. ‘Gator was pumped and seeing us put him over the edge. He was a linebacker – quick and big. He was on a mission, making tackles and sacking the quarterback. It was rout for Aims High. We came down on the field at the end of the game, both girls hanging onto me.
“Pretty impressive, ‘Gator. You were a madman out there.”
“It’s my best game ever, especially ‘cause y’all came.” Tim 409
“Wouldn’t have missed it,” we all lied. “Y’all comin’ to our show?”
“I’m pumped. All the guys will be there.”
“Well, hopes y’all likes it.”
“I knows we all will.”
Off he went to the locker room. He tried to drag me with him, but I said we had to set up for the show. I couldn’t tell if he was crushing on me, on one of the twins, or just was used to getting everyone to follow him like his posse did. I figured he was working to make me a follower, much as Robby did in Miami.

The coffee shop in downtown Ames had large windows, making it easy to see inside before committing to go through the door. Lorry's Cafe Ames There was a large counter with baked goods and an order counter to get your coffee. Further inside was a large area with tables and chairs plus couches along the walls. In the back was a corner with a mic and seats for performers to play. It was cozy and intimate. I wondered how the regular patrons would take to our football crowd taking over their space. I realized we should go on as soon as possible. The ‘boys’ would probably take their time with locker-room hijinks.
We introduced ourselves to the manager, asking that we play first.
“What songs are you planning to do?” he asked.
“We’re starting with Eve of Destruction.”
“Cool. We haven’t heard that one in a while.”
“If people like it, we’ll play a couple of other songs and talk with the crowd a bit.”
He was agreeable. This wasn’t CBGB’s.

We tuned up our electric guitars in the girls bathroom. I hate when the first thing a band does is tune up on stage.
Ready to go, we sat on separate chairs, sharing the single mic. We used two practice amps so the volume would be kept low. I strummed the opening bars with the girls waiting on my introduction.

“Evening, Ames. We’re the Triplets, Amy, Angie and I’m Andy. We hope you like this song from 1963, ’Eve of Destruction.’” Tim 444
There was a smattering of applause. Most people didn’t even listen to my remarks, making us sing and strum stronger than usual.

“The eastern world it tis explodin’,
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’,
You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’,
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’,
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin’,”

I let the girls sing the chorus in their high, pitch perfect sopranos:

“But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”

That got everyone’s attention. I came back in for the second verse, adding a bass voice to the seriousness of war. Again it was just the girls on the chorus, singing high and pure. We did all four verses and choruses. The crowd was eating out of our hand.

“That song was from the beginning of the Protest Movement of the 60’s. It predicts we wouldn’t even be here in 1975. How come they were wrong?” I asked
“We stopped the War,” someone answered.
“Did we do it, or was it really them, the 60’s people?”
“We all did it. I went to protest marches with my folks,” someone spoke up.
“Did you feel like you were changing the world.”
“I was just glad they ended the draft when I was in high school.”
“So it was kinda over before we grew up. I wonder what our generation will do.”
“Turn on, tune in, drop out,” someone yelled out.
“How’s that workin’ for ya?”
“My girlfriend’s coming back to my dorm room tonight.”
“Good going, caveman.”
They all laughed easily.
“What I wonder is what our generation will do to change the world. How ‘bout this song from Norman Greenbaum,” as we started playing ‘Spirit in the Sky.’ Angie played the bass notes on her top string only, while Amy and I played the full chords. Tim 394

“When I die and
They lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place
That’s the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go
When I die
When I die and they
Lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place
That’s the best
Prepare yourself
You know it’s a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that
When you die
You’re gonna go to
The spirit in the sky
Gonna go to the spirit in the sky
That’s where you’re gonna go
When you die…”

While we played, several girls got up and started swaying and waving their hands over their heads. I swore I was back in Baptist youth group.
“Y’all like a little gospel with your sugar pop. Is being true to Jesus enough to say at the end of your life that it’s all been worthwhile?”
“Jesus saves,” someone yelled.
“What if’n I’s already saved, with Jesus in my heart? Is that all there is?”
“Party.” He yelled.

‘Gator and the boys had arrived.
“So long’s we’s all havin’ a good time, let the party begin,” as I started playing Dylan’s ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Dylan01

“ Mama, take this badge off of me
I can’t use it anymore
It’s gettin’ dark, too dark to see
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore
That long black cloud is comin’ down
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door”

Songwriters: BOB DYLAN
© BOB DYLAN MUSIC CO

“Hey, boys. Hellava game tanight,” I greeted them. “These folk is questioning the worth of their lives. Any suggestions?”
“Par-tay, par-tay,” they all yelled.
“In that case, I’m a’gonna git down off’n my high horse,” as I dropped on all fours and barked.
Instantly, Max was there, Tim 311 barking back at me. Angela took out the collar and leash and attached them to my neck. Amy handed me the mic into which I continued to bark. The girls ripped into the Stooges ‘I wanna be your Dog,’ while Max and I channeled our inner Iggy.

‘Gator followed my lead, getting down on the floor and barking at me. The rest of the jocks soon joined him, as well as several college boys. The girls who had been waving their hands, stood there, hands on hips, glaring at all the idiots. Amy busted out her best Hendrix guitar licks, getting the girls’ attention. When did girls rock out in Iowa? We went on and on. I noticed the manager was pacing, trying to decide if to pull the plug. I banged the mic on the floor, and with a crash it all stopped.

Thank you, Ames. Just when I thought we couldn’t aim any lower, we outdid ourselves, didn’t we?”
A cheer went up, as we left the corner and joined the jocks.

The manager quickly came up to the mic. “Well, that was sumthin’ different. How about a hand for The Triplets.” Without pausing he went ahead and introduced the next performers. We took the jocks outside and berated them for missing half our show. ‘Gator looked genuinely hurt and apologized.
“You guys are great. You need a bigger stage.”
“It were ‘sposed ta be a serious folk session, but y’all busted it up. Them college kids thought it was all fer fun and missed the point.”
“What was the point. We all was jist havin’ fun.”
“We gave ‘em a choice, go for god or jist have fun.”
“Well, we’s the godless crowd then.”
Everyone laughed.

The boys insisted on dragging us to the post-game party at one of their teammate’s house. The twins hung closely to me as we observed Midwest football debauchery. ‘Gator was dragged away by his cheerleader/comfort’ girl. He apologized as he was led to a bedroom for his post-game reward.
“Y’all enjoying this?” I asked the twins.
“No way,” they both cried. “we jist hope y’all won’t run off with some slut and abandon us.”
“No fear. Yer honor’s safe with psycho boy here.”
“We keep waiting for some psycho craziness, but y’all’s jist the nicest boy.” Tim 420
I hugged them both. All three of us walked out, arm in arm.

Molly asked us at breakfast Saturday morning how our show went. It was almost noon by the time we’d gotten up.
“Well, you could say we made a bunch of new friends, but none of them were the folk crowd,” Angela was analytical as always.
“You didn’t play the folk songs you practiced?” my mom asked.
“We did and it was going great. But the football team showed up. Andy did his dog act to a heavy metal song. They were crawling around on the floor and barking. We lost the serious crowd,” Amy explained.
“You really rocked out, Aim,” I tried to compliment her.
“I was so mad that the jocks (and you) were making fools of yourself.”
“I thought you were really into it. You were cranking on guitar.”
“I went crazy from the anger.”
“Anger is an energy.”
“Not in church choir.”
“Don’tcha think they got the point – what will the next generation be like, god-fearing or god-damning?”
“Language, please,” Molly upbraided me.
“Sorry,” I felt abashed.
“It’s okay, Andy. You’re used to playing rowdy rock. My girls are church-going girls. They prefer simpler folk music.”
“But rock is folk music, just not boring, like,” I started sarcastically singing, “Michael row your boat ashore.”
“Alleluia,” the twins sang high and pure.
It made me realize that there were more ways to see things. Maybe I was being closed off. They sang like angels. Jace, my angel,  appeared, signing that the girls were on another planet from us. I signed that I wanted us on an equal playing field.
“Compromise,” he signed.
“What are you doing?” Angela had noticed the signing.
“I’m signing to Jace. It’s a habit from thinking he’s watching over me, so he can see what I’m thinking.”
“You are so weird.”
That’s not the half of it, I thought.
“It’s so I can trust what my heart is telling me to do.”
“What’s it saying to do now?” Amy asked.
“Compromise.”
All four women looked at each other and nodded. I felt outnumbered.
“How do you suggest we compromise?” Angela asked.
“If we get asked to play again, we need to play songs we all like.”
“Of course.”
“I thought we had agreed to do the heavy metal song at the end.”
“We thought it was okay, but when we were playing the reaction was too crazy. We got scared,” Angela answered for both twins.
“What about you, Amy. Was it too scary?” I hoped find some support. “You must have felt something for the song, you played so well. Your guitar was incredible.”
“It was so different playing electric compared to acoustic. I got carried away.”
“You had those boys groveling at your feet,” I laughed. Amy looked embarrassed.
“Explain to me how a coffee shop open mic folk performance turned into a riot,” Molly started to realize what had happened.
“We played Barry MacGuire and Bob Dylan, as well as a gospel song, asking the patrons what they thought and how we relate to sixties music in the seventies. Then we played a nihilistic heavy metal song as a contrast just as the football players showed up. They jumped to the front and were rolling around on the floor, barking like dogs.”
“I’m not comfortable with the image of football players groveling at the feet of my daughters,” Molly pronounced. “You guys go upstairs, so Wendy and I can decide whether this band idea is appropriate or not.”
I felt the kiss of death hanging over us, as we climbed the stairs to the third floor. The Miami band had never been subject to parental approval, except for Michael’s dad who really was in the band, geezer division.
“That craziness didn’t bother y’all?” Angela asked when we sat down in a circle with our guitars.
“Which craziness – the show or the moms?”
“You never get fazed, do you. That was a pretty wild night for the Muller Twins. The worst was that party with the sluts dragging those jocks away for sex. We’re too innocent for that and don’t want to even know about it.” Tim 296

We started practicing on guitar, just playing scales and riffs. The moms came up and announced their decision about the band.
“We think it’s great that you are bonding over music and the band introduces Andy to the community as the newest member of our blended family. But we have reservations about the image you project, especially when it reflects on us as parents. We want to have a say about what music you play in the future.”
“We did that before last night’s performance. We just didn’t know how crazy it was going to get.”
Looking directly at me, Mom expressed their real concern, “I think Tim, er Andy, knew pretty well what the reactions would be. His dad just told me about the experiences he had with his rock band this year.”
Good old dad, right here with his negative opinions.
“We played one rock song after doing three folk/gospel songs. You knew that the purpose was to show the college kids the difference between finding meaning through religion or leading a nihilistic life represented by the rock song.”
“But only you knew that the rock song would make the crowd crazy,” Molly accused me.
“My mistake was inviting the football players. The girls had warned me not to let our friends know about the show. I thought that was because they were shy.”
I felt the old axiom that girls can’t rock made me the only one who wanted to play rock. I had to appeal to the twins that they wanted to be more than choir girls. I wasn’t going to like playing for the moms’ seal of approval.
“I think we need to set some ground rules if you want to continue playing in public,” Molly decided.
Just then the door bell rang. Amy ran down and came back up, followed by ‘Gator and his posse of four.
“’Mornin’ Mrs. Muller, Mrs. Castle. We come over to see if Andy wants to start practicing for the school’s bowling team.”
“Hello, Brock. That’s nice of you to ask him.”
“Oh, he’s the one who’s startin’ the team.”
“You know it’s a co-ed sport, ‘Gator,” I informed him.
“Well, ‘course the girls hast ta come too.”
The twins started to giggle, more out of embarrassment than excitement.
“We’ll talk about the band later,” Molly postponed the inevitable.
“How about we plan to all go to church tomorrow,” I took the offensive, knowing that I was staking out the high ground. Tim 413
“That’s an unusual request. We seldom attend.”
“What better way to show we meant it when we sang gospel songs?”
‘Gator was trying to understand what we were discussing. “We’ll all come, too. If’n that’ll help,” he suggested in his impetuous way. “We kin go to my Baptist Church. They’s always prayin’ fur us before our games.”
The moms were outflanked. The twins smiled conspiratorially. Bowling, then Church, trumped rock.