A real conversation, in a local pub, not long ago…
Q: My friend asked, “What would you do?”
A: “I’d start by punching that pastor in the mouth!”
But first, a childhood recollection—
Larry’s dad was a jazz drummer. He had a day job. But every weekend he was off gigging somewhere. One of his drum kits was set up in the house. Going over to play at Larry’s was a lot of fun. And loud.
That’s not the way his dad played, though. Every now and again the old man would come in, sit down at the kit and show us his skills. He was all jazz, smooth and with delicate touch. I was like, ‘Isn’t the point of drumming … percussion? Feeling it? Like thunder? But Larry’s dad was gentle. And damn talented. Larry wasn’t bad, either. He could play along to Harry Chapin and Jim Croce records.
“Have you ever seen The Jazz Singer?” Larry asked me once. “Al Jolson?”
He told the story—a young Jewish musician was disowned by his traditional Jewish family for wanting to be a jazz singer. “It was something like that for my dad,” he said. “My grandfather expected Dad to be a Cantor. Dad did that for a while. Until my grandfather learned he was sneaking out to play in jazz clubs with other jazz musicians.”
He explained that his grandfather was very devout in his religion; his religion taught you should turn your back on apostates. Cut and dry.
Larry had living grandparents, at least as far as he knew. And I guess that’s the point—he didn’t know. Larry’s dad’s music came at a tremendous cost; his family of origin had written him out.
Fast forward forty years. I’m having a beer with a friend. His daughter just came out to him. He went to see his pastor. The pastor advised my friend to “draw a hard line in the sand,” to disown his daughter … “until such a time as she repents, of course.”
My friend asked, “What would you do?”
“I’d start by punching that pastor in the mouth!”