Making Kisstory: My Son’s First Rock Concert

This weekend was another milestone event for our family. Diego, now 10 years-old, went to his first ever rock concert. It wasn’t just any concert, it was a Kiss concert. Kiss, the band from the early 70’s, known for its Kabuki style make-up and theatrical effects including dripping blood, breathing fire, and exploding pyrotechnics, is my husband’s absolute favorite band.

Kiss fans like Juan, consider themselves members of the Kiss army and are as loyal to the band, as the band is loyal to fans. Juan has followed Kiss since he discovered them when he was Diego’s age, and has seen the band perform live over 25 times. Extreme? Maybe. I figure some men have really expensive, obsessive hobbies, like cars, golf, and fantasy football. One of my husband’s guilty pleasures is Kiss. Juan has shared his passion for Kiss with all of us in the family. I have gone to three concerts with Juan and he has attempted to recruit our kids into the Kiss army. Five years ago, Juan took the older kids to their first Kiss concert. The kids were good sports and put on full Kiss make-up. We even memorialized it in our Christmas card that year.

2009 Christmas card

2009 Christmas card

Juan was a proud papa, stopping with the kids to pose for pictures with other concert goers. The kids took it all in stride, even if Nico, then 11 years-old, fell asleep in the middle of the concert. Despite Juan’s efforts and the kids’ appreciation for Kiss, none of them joined the Kiss army.

The kids and Juan pose for pictures walking into the Kiss concert.

The kids and Juan pose for pictures walking into the Kiss concert.

A few months ago, Kiss announced that they would be performing at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas. Since Diego was too young to go with Juan and his siblings before, Juan figured it was now time for Diego to get inducted into the Kiss Army. Juan bought tickets for the Saturday night concert and I made travel arrangements.

We drove to Las Vegas and did a little sight-seeing on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, then made our way back to the hotel to rest up and get ready for the big show. Unfortunately, Diego has never been a good napper, even when he was a baby, so despite being up past midnight on Friday and waking up at 7:00 a.m on Saturday, Diego did not nap. Diego was never really enthused about wearing Kiss make-up to the concert, so he just decided to wear his newly purchased Kiss t-shirt instead. Juan was a little disappointed they would go without make-up but he was still excited about seeing his favorite band in concert, and sharing the experience with his own son.

When we arrived at the Hard Rock, the place was teaming with Kiss fans. Even though we were in Vegas, an adult playground, there were several kids attending the concert. Most of them were wearing Kiss t-shirts, and several adults were wearing both Kiss t-shirts and make-up. Juan and Diego found their seats among the nearly sold-out arena. Unfortunately, the seats themselves were a huge disappointment. They were in the second to last row. Diego’s view was obstructed by a catwalk, and and somebody’s head. Perhaps it was all the hype, his overblown expectation of what a rock concert is about, or maybe just the lack of sleep, but Diego fought to hold back his tears of disappointment. Juan’s feelings were hurt, and he felt guilty about not splurging and paying for better seats. Then he felt resentful that we had gone to such lengths to create an experience for Diego which he did not seem to appreciate. Juan tried to ease Diego’s disappointment but it didn’t seem to work. Finally, Juan just tried to enjoy himself. When Kiss started playing “I Love it Loud” about 30 minutes into the 90 minute concert. Juan looked over at Diego and saw that Diego had fallen asleep!

Both Diego and Juan were subdued as we returned to our hotel room. You never would have guessed they had just returned from a rock concert. Diego asked me what he could do to make it up to his dad. I told him that his dad just wanted Diego to appreciate the effort his dad made so that they could share this experience together. Diego seemed surprised that I would say such a thing, and said that of course he appreciated it! He told his us that on a scale of about 1 to 100 the concert was about an 80 and 70 of that was because he got to spend time with his dad. For Diego, the best part of the experience wasn’t seeing Kiss live, it was spending time with someone better than any other rock star, his dad.

Diego and his Rock Star Dad at the Hard Rock.

Diego and his Rock Star Dad at the Hard Rock.

A Change of Light in the Gloom of June

Around here I can usually tell it is June because of the gray skies,  known as June Gloom, the blossoming Jacaranda trees, and the inordinate amount of end of school year activities, family birthdays and anniversaries. This week I noticed the trees were filled with purple flowers, the cool,  grey mornings required a jacket, and there was nearly a daily occurrence of birthdays, school assemblies and a very special kind of anniversary

Ten years ago this week, Juan and I made plans to spend a Saturday afternoon at the beach with our kids. It seemed like it should have been summer already, but instead,  the overcast skies signaled the beginning of June Gloom. Still, we had young kids and wanted to keep them busy,  so Juan invited me to join him and the girls at  the beach.

Nico and I at a beach play date with Juan and the girls.

Juan and I had become friends through work . We supported each other through our sometimes messy and often painful divorces, and since our kids were close in age we would sometimes get together for weekend play dates. Juan had already asked me out for a date,  and even though I thought he was kind, funny and found his obsession with the rock band KISS to be a bit quirky,  I didn’t feel the romance, so I declined.  We agreed we should just remain friends.  But, something changed that cool, overcast June afternoon. I saw Juan in a different light. The way he played with his daughters; the way he flew kites with my son; and the spontaneity and lightness of the day made me see him in a new way, outside of being a serious lawyer. Perhaps if I had known that several months later he would show at my door looking like this, I would have changed my mind earlier.

He showed up looking like this one night, after attending a KISS record release event after work.

But I digress.  That evening, after we ended our afternoon beach play date with the kids, Juan and I spontaneously decided to go to a party given by one of our co-workers, at a Karaoke bar, in Koreatown. I think we both must have felt the desire to prolong our day, and not part each other’s company. Juan insisted on driving me to the karaoke bar.  When we got to the party, we drank something we now refer to as “Korean Lemonade.” Whatever it was, it was tasty, and strong. And it helped Juan lose some of his inhibition and get on the Karaoke stage with friends and sing. When I saw him up there singing, something clicked. (And, it was definitely not because he was a good singer.) I started to think, maybe, despite my injured heart, and his poor rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, I should go out with this guy.

Really? Should I go out with him?

That Korean lemonade made Juan feel more than just brave–it also made him feel like couldn’t drive home.  I drove his car back to my house.  Juan must still have been feeling emboldened by that lemonade because he asked me for a kiss. I said yes. Was it the beach day, the Karaoke, the lemonade, or was it just a shift in my heart that allowed me to take a chance on this lawyer-dad-KISS-fan? Whatever it was, I am glad the sun came out in the midst of the June gloom, and the light changed enough for me to see Juan in a new way.

green apple

The Apple of His Eye

There are many things I love about my husband Juan. He is funny, loving, kind, and generous.  We have been together for 10 years and have experienced quite a lot together. I feel like we know and understand each other as only soul mates can. Still, there are a couple of things about my husband that continue to surprise and amuse me. The first thing is Juan’s obsession with the rock band KISS. It’s quite shocking really, how much he knows about the band, how much he enjoys their music and what a big fan he is. Last year, Juan took the kids to see KISS in concert dressed up like this:

In fact, there is so much good material about Juan and KISS that it will make up a whole other blog post.

The second thing about Juan that still surprises me is his love of tech gadgets.  When I first met Juan, and I learned about his love of gadgets I found it charming. Like any person in new love, I thought the fact that he wore his cell phone and CD-sized MP-3 player on his belt loop was quirky but endearing. In the early days of our courtship Juan shunned the iPod. He is a true music lover and therefore thought the Nomad MP-3 player was the superior product. He would carry a large, round MP-3 player, which he wore like an extra appendage, on his belt loop around his waist.

When Apple released a new iPod with greater memory Juan succumbed to the sexy, slimmer, rectangular gadget in white, and dumped the Nomad. It was his new obsession. With each new iPod version Juan upgraded. Juan’s gadget loves became slimmer, smaller, more colorful. But at least they were smarter, because they had more memory. I consoled myself with each new purchase because he managed to sell or upgrade his old models with little expense. But of course his “hobby” of organizing and reorganizing his music playlists and purchasing music also managed to preoccupy him. His habit of walking around the house listening to his iPod with headphones on began to grate on me. It was especially irritating when I would be halfway through a discussion before I realized he was listening to KISS with his headphones on, and I was having a conversation with myself.  I complained that he couldn’t hear me or the kids,so he took to wearing his headphones throughout the house with only one side in his ear. Marriage involves compromise.

And then Apple launched the iPhone. Juan was hooked. He dumped that iPod like a bad habit. I saw the same pattern repeat itself with each new version of the iPhone. A younger, slimmer model launched and he was there with all the other Fanboys, waiting to purchase one. On the day the iPhone 3 launched he took the day off and waited at home for it to be delivered. I had the day off from work too and I sweated it out at Disneyland with Nico and Diego. In the middle of my day waiting in line for Thunder Mountain, I received this text message and picture of my husband gleefully welcoming his new gadget:

Oh Happy Day!

Now the iPhone is a part of our life.  We wake up in the morning to the iPhone as an alarm.  Juan rises and takes it with him to the kitchen while he gets his morning coffee. He returns and heads to the bathroom with the morning news blaring from his I Heart Radio App. He checks weather on it before he dresses for work, making sure to inform me of the day’s forecast. We have a No-Electronics–at-the-Table-Rule during meals, except for breakfast, when Juan eats his morning cereal while reading the iPhone’s bookmarked news blogs for the day’s headlines. Before Juan is out the door he has checked his traffic app and let’s me know what’s ahead on the freeways. The iPhone is with us all the time. So, Ieven though this video isn’t promoting the iPhone, I still found it so true it was only half-funny:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHlN21ebeak&sns=em

Really? Yes.  Just like Juan and his iPhone. But guess what? Not long ago Apple launched a new technology. Granted it was much larger, and couldn’t possibly be worn around the waist. But it had had more memory and it was an even better multi-tasker than the iPhone. It is the IPad. Juan was hooked and as much as he tried to resist, he succumbed. Although to be fair, I was an enabler. We bought it as an anniversary/Father’s Day present. It is now a part of our lives. Really. The Ayyyye Pad.