The Beatles, My Children, and Me (Scenes from Parsonage Living)

I knew this moment would come. There were indications on the horizon for some time. At first, they watched the “musical” television shows like American Idol and more importantly “Glee.” There, attractive young people danced and sang all sorts of songs they’d never heard before. While wrestling with broken hearts and an evil cheerleading coach, they sang the music of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and others. Here’s where I should tell you the “they” are my daughters. In the days before Glee, they wouldn’t be caught dead listening to the Beatles, especially in the car with me.

Then it happened. A few months ago, I heard music coming from their bedrooms. It sounded like they were listening to the Beatles.   I asked Mary, “Are they listening to the Beatles?”  Snippets of “Come Together” emerged from beneath the door and between blasts of the hair dryer. Could it be that our children were developing their own tastes in music, that mirrored our own, and they didn’t tell us about it? I wanted them to sit with us on the couch, ask about the Cavern Club or the band’s early days in Liverpool. Who simply begins listening to the Beatles? The Beatles are like John’s gospel. No one jumps right in.  Everything is really a long prologue that leads to the White Album.

Yesterday, it finally turned weird. Our twenty-year-old daughter walked in the door. She’d returned from the post office bearing a package.  With the grace of Indiana Jones removing a statue, she presented us her treasure. It was a reproduction of the 1962-1966 Red Album from the Beatles. Did we want to go back to her room and listen to “Ticket to Ride”? No. I had punched that ticket. It had been a hard days night, and I felt fine.

I am officially old. My children are impressed with reproductions of albums initially released the year before I was born.   Sometimes I think they believe the Beatles were discovered under a rock in Cleveland somewhere about 2002.

I don’t look forward to the day they discover the 1980’s. That was awful when I lived through it. If they find some the garbage still waiting to be rediscovered, go ahead and put me in the home.

Richard Lowell Bryant

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Three Chickens and Two Dogs

We have three chickens and two black dogs. The chickens, in alphabetical order, are called Enelle, Mayzelle, and Vernelle. They are all hens and sisters. The dogs, self-appointed protectors of the chickens, are oblivious to social constructs and hierarchy of the English language. So we call them Ruby and Hurley.

While I cannot prove it, I believe the chickens talk to the dogs. I’m not sure the dogs respond or understand. This, however, does not keep the chickens for trying to speak. The chickens have a perpetual need to be recognized. As grandmother said, “An unheard chicken is akin to killing a dead mocking bird.” The dogs lived to listen, not to speak. Yet, if you asked them, they might tell you everything you needed to know. The trick is knowing how to pose the question.

Enelle was the youngest of the chicken sisters. She is in the 10th grade at the Hen House school down the street. Her older sister Mayzelle, by only two years, is also there and about to graduate. Because our farm is remote and their school was small, many of their classes were taught remotely. They watch computer screens displaying hens in faraway places, sitting on eggs, and learning eggonomotry.

Mayzelle’s eggspertise is taking her to Chicken U in the coming months. She won a scholarship from the Friends of Kentucky Chicken Children to attend a program for gifted chickens. This endowment enables her to have full nest and hay in a hen house on campus as well as pay her tuition.

Did I forget Vernelle? No, how could I miss Vernelle? She’s the only chicken within fourteen miles who has dyed her Rhode Island Red Blue. She’s a blue-haired chicken. You can’t miss her. Vernelle is home in the hen house and working at the Feed Shack. I don’t know what they put in the stuff but chickens from around the world keep coming back to peck in their yard.

Peck. Peck. Peck. I’ll have a mocha seed latte with milk.  To go.

Richard Lowell Bryant