Laura is the most intelligent child we have. She’s 12-years-old, which hides the fact that her inquisitive and far-reaching mind is decades more mature. Life is like a game of chess to her and she’s always seven moves ahead of me. I try to keep up, confident that I am smarter, but quickly realize that intelligence is much different than being smart.
Laura loves to tell tall tales. She’s so good at them. Quick on her feet. If you’re sitting down with her, reviewing her grades from 6th grade, and find a missing assignment that was due several weeks prior, she will have a perfect story, rolling off her tongue immediately. It’s believable too, except it isn’t. Just like an email phishing scam, there’s always one little typo that raises an eyebrow and makes you wave your mouse over the email link, revealing a shoddy website address.
Such is it with her stories.
*The phone rings.*
“Hello,” I answer.
“Hi Daddy! Guess what I just found! You’ll never believe it!”
“A 10 dollar bill on the sidewalk. I was out rollerblading and found it. So I went to Kwik Trip and bought a bunch of candy for you. I’ll give it to you when you get home.”
Something was weird about that story, but I couldn’t figure it out. She sounded excited, but there was an oddity to the way she was relating it. She was home sick with strep throat and just happened to be rollerblading instead of resting. Finding a penny is common, a paper bill, less so. In fact, many a person will go through their entire lives without ever doing so, excepting those times where you put on your old winter coat and find a Benjamin in the pocket, along with a few unused condoms.
Sure enough, the next day, Renaya, our 14-year-old, announced she was missing $15 from her purse.
But Laura also uses her intelligence for good. She is wonderful at teaching concepts to the younger ones, highly inquisitive about even the most simple of subjects, and never stops asking questions to answers she already knows. She simply doesn’t forget what she learns, highlighting her disinterest in certain subjects (science) when she receives poor grades. She is also extremely talented in gymnastics. She started as a beginner a month ago and has already graduated two levels to intermediate. Her coaches are shocked that she has had no formal training. Laura is just that good at what she puts her mind to.
Laura is also my daughter. I love my kids, regardless of their faults, even if I want to jump off a bridge five days a week. Unlike a bad cup of coffee, causing me to never buy that brand again, Laura can hoodwink me every single day of her life, and I will see through it as a sign she would make a great politician and an even better capitalist (though she is very empathetic). Thus, I don’t reject her and put her up for adoption.
Which brings me to Prince:
Yesterday, Prince died. The announcement swept through my social media and at work. The reaction to this man’s death was the closest thing to ubiquitous love that I have ever experienced. Even when David Bowie died, I didn’t feel this. The sentiments transcended generations. Young and old alike, wept openly, dug their old albums from dusty drawers, finding buried CD players, just so they could hear Purple Rain again in its original burning. Minnesota stopped in its tracks, quickly scheduled dance parties, and turned everything purple. Corporate meetings devolved into longing conversations of times past, remembering the days one attended a concert of this short man in heels and makeup.
And yet, I told everyone, honestly, that I didn’t know the man. I didn’t know his music and I didn’t have any appreciation to what he meant to the art form. I was fairly public about my ignorance, which meant that I began to receive links, audio clips, and videos of Prince’s music in my inbox, through text, any number of messaging apps, and even comments on this blog.
While that was all well and good, I don’t appreciate singers by just listening to their music. I study them and enjoy their music as an extension of who they are. As such, if someone’s music is an alter-ego to who they really are, I don’t get as much appreciation from it, no matter how talented.
Prince is full of contradictions. He sang about sex, very graphically, and later in life, became quite religious. The spirituality showed in his music. He discouraged people from using vulgarities, and had morality arguments that lined up quite nicely to the Religious Right. Yet, at his concerts, he would sing all of his songs, including what would be considered anathema to a Jehovah’s Witness, to which faith practice he was a dedicated member. He believed in chemtrails, spouted conspiracy theories about American antipathy toward religion in the public square, claiming other countries celebrated religion openly. Yet he was a loud mouthpiece for fairness in the music industry. He was a vocal opponent to America’s version of unbridled capitalism, even going as far as claiming that the common folk are still “on a plantation.” And he talked a lot about Jesus, yet had a disregard for the feelings and needs of others.
In short, Prince was a gentleman that I would give a wide berth.
Yet I look at the messages of his music, interpreted in a myriad of ways by his millions of fans. I look at how he touched their lives in very palpable ways, especially the lives of my ex-fundamentalist friends who used his words of encouragement to “just be themselves and screw everyone’s opinions” to help get out of the bondage of hen-pecking religious types who wanted to keep them in the fold. I see people using his earlier admonitions to “fuck” as a way to remember to enjoy intimacy with their partners when life goes to shit. I also see how his music, just for the sake of good music, is capable of “getting people through a day.”
And so, just like my daughter, I will not reject the man.