Wednesday, May 14, 2008

House of Rock

On Mother's Day afternoon, I delighted in an episode of "Rock Star Wives: The E! True Hollywood Story," just as Mother's Day tradition dictates, and because the "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza" marathon on TV Land became very tiresome. I thought one of the rock star wives had a speech impediment and I started to feel sorry for her until I realized it was just the collagen lips getting in the way. She couldn't properly form her words. I'd hate to sit across the table from her at Taco Bell and watch her try to negotiate a bean burrito. Gross.

Much of the True Hollywood Story involved monologues about their husbands' drug and alcohol habits and how the stars battled their demons. I decided that I would be best friends with Sheryl Cooper (Mrs. Alice Cooper) and possibly Perla Hudson (Mrs. Slash). Because that's what I do -- I have TV Best Friends, Music Best Friends and Movie Best Friends. (I'll blog about these on another day.) Now I have this subcategory: Rock Star Wives Best Friends.

For the most part, these women (and the four others who appeared on this episode) have endured way more than I would have put up with. If I were a rock star wife, I would hit the bottle myself. Or the crystal meth. Or the ROAD. But they tolerated the groupies, the drugs and the drinking until the husbands eventually straightened up. I found the wives INSPIRING.

This is a photo of what my kids think they look like.

My kids have Rock Band, and I am on the brink of a straight-up drinking binge that may never end. The pounding, the yelling, the unintelligible whining. The kids don't understand why I won't shut up and why I really don't like Rock Band. You've probably seen clips of POWs strapped to a table with a blindfold over their eyes, with a steady drip of water hitting them in the face. I know how they feel.

The late night jams, the yelling over the soundchecks, ignoring the family. You might think you could never tire of listening to Bon Jovi or The Ramones. But you would be wrong. After four hours of vocal attempts at "Wanted: Dead or Alive" with that tap-tap-tapping on the fake drum, you're throwing dollar bills onto the hearth and requesting "Beth" by KISS. Poetic and so painfully true. The loneliness of a rock star's family.

The premise behind the addictive Rock Band is simple enough: a video game where players sing into a microphone, play a fake guitar and tap on a drum that SOUNDS NOTHING LIKE A DRUM AT ALL. Imagine banging a wooden spoon on a plate glass window. For about nine hours.

A couple of my children were once musically inclined. Now they bang sticks like monkeys in a freak show and wave a fake guitar around like they're Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page. Each kid has lost an inordinate amount of body weight because they skip meals or absentmindedly eat with one hand while playing fake drums with the other. Their eyes are sunken in from sleep deprivation, and their hearing isn't as keen as it once was.

I half-smile at gawking strangers in the grocery store and explain, "No, they're not on drugs. We have Rock Band."

Rock on ...