All She Wants to Do

WARNING: Excessive name-dropping follows

It sounds a bit trite, but sometimes the songs that really affect you are the ones that seeped into your soul as a teenager.

The soundtrack of my teenage years was diverse: Duran Duran, Chicago, Van Halen, Salt-n-Peppa, Whitney Houston, Nirvana, and yes, Kip Winger – just to name a few. (Kip even had the primo poster spot above my pink pleather waterbed). I’d torture my brother with dance routines to Janet Jackson’s “Control” and Taco’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” When no one watched, I’d swish around my bedroom floor, singing into my hairbrush and pretending I was Cyndi Lauper or, on particularly rebellious days, Joan Jett.

If I was behind the wheel of my sweet 1988 Honda Prelude, the cassette changed depending on who was in the passenger seat.

For example, if Deanna and I were headed back from the lake, I can promise you we were rockin’ out to “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Cru—complete with air guitar mastery.  If Heather G and I were headed home after basketball practice, we’d belt out every word to “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” by the greatness of Air Supply. If Melissa, Heather C, and I cruised on Saturday night, Anthony Kiedis serenaded us.

But if I was by myself, the most sacred of tapes, “Hotel California” played.  With windows down, transforming my already curly hair into a tangled mess, I’d turn up the volume, press down the pedal, and put my hand out the window, letting the waves of summer air dip my hand up and down along with Don Henley’s cadence.  After every bad day at school, every awkward first date, every broken heart . . . Don was there. His music wrapped around me, taking my mind off the whispers of teenage insecurities.

Fast forward twenty plus years.

A good friend of ours went to a charity event and bid on a dinner party with Don Henley and his wife, Sharon. Our friend won and Barrett and I were lucky enough to make the list of invitees.

The best part: I got the seat right next to Don.

Pinch me.

After the awkwardness of the first 30 minutes where I nervously peppered him with lame questions about his career, things loosened up.  For the next two hours, we had a most enjoyable conversation about our mutual connection to East Texas, with kid-talk sprinkled along the way.  At the time, Micah was 2 years old and quite a handful. I highlighted some of our more interesting Micah times, with both Don and Sharon laughing and acting genuinely interested.  Seriously, pinch me.

Fast forward another year.

Barrett and I were at a party and noticed a thick chic crowd around another guest – none other than Mr. Henley himself.  I was 7 months pregnant with Maddox so we stayed outside where it was cooler and where I wouldn’t have to see all the champagne I wasn’t allowed to drink. Plus, I didn’t want to pile on.  Especially not in a room full of long, slender bare legs and modern Zeuxises when I looked like I’d swallowed a golden retriever.

It’s not like he was going to remember me anyway.

A few hours later it was time to relieve the babysitter. Barrett and I walked past the admiring fans on our way to the door. Then I heard someone call my name.

Don Henley.

“It’s my fellow East Texan!” he said, before he glanced down at my big belly. “Looks like you’ve been busy!”

“Hi!” I said, my face feeling flush. “Yeah, we’re gluttons for punishment.”

He snapped and looked to the ceiling like he was thinking. “How is Micah? She gotten into more trouble lately?”

I was dumbfounded. Not only did he remember me, but he actually remembered my daughter’s name!  Suddenly, I felt the weight of the stares of the beautiful people, amplifying the whispers of now adulthood insecurities.

I had to make a decision.

Maybe it was the life growing in me. Maybe it was the knowing squeeze from Barrett’s hand. Maybe it was, once again, Don Henley’s cadence.  Regardless, there was only one thing I could say.

“She’s crazy as ever,” I confirmed. “But now we have just one main problem.”

Don cracked a smile. “Oh yeah, what’s that?”

I sighed heavily and shook my head, “All she wants to do is dance.”

Some in the circle stayed silent, others laughed, a few groaned.

Don gave me a high-five as I walked away.

On the way home, I fired up a CD while Barrett rubbed my belly from the driver’s seat. With windows down, transforming my already curly hair into a tangled mess, I turned up the volume and put my hand out the window, letting the waves of early spring air dip my hand up and down along with Don Henley’s cadence.

On a dark desert highway,

cool wind in my hair

Warm smell of colitas,

rising up through the air