Monday, April 20, 2015

When We Kiss…Fire

I see, belatedly, that Bruce Springsteen’s son Sam has embarked on a career as a firefighter in a place called Monmouth County, New Jersey, even though wanting to be a fireman is an ambition out of which most American boys grow by the age of around seven, at which age they start dreaming of being a cowboy instead. By around 14, many have come to aspire to careers in the adult film industry, imagining that getting to interact sexually with a lot of large-breasted blondes will be fun galore, rather than tedious and demeaning and poorly compensated.

What is fun galore is imagining the conversation with his father during which Sam decided on firefighting as a career path.

SAM: Papa [pronounced in the European way, with the accent on the second syllable], I’ve decided what I want to do with my life.

BRUCE; Do I gotta ask you again, son, to use just half of Papa.

SAM: Sorry?

BRUCE: Just use one of the two syllables. Pop or Pa.

SAM: While we’re on the subject of forms of address, may I ask again why Evan [his elder brother] got a bank vice president’s name, and I got a janitor’s?

BRUCE: After Ev, me and your mama were worn out fighting with our brand consultants. We were going to name you Forbes, as in the magazine, but they wouldn’t hear of it. “

SAM: Anyway, I’ve decided what I really want is to get an MBA. I’m thinking Cornell, or MIT’s Sloan School of Management, or, in a pinch, Goizueta School of Business down at Emory.

Papa — sorry: Pa — why are you not saying anything?


BRUCE: “Why ain’t you saying nothing?”

SAM: Huh?

BRUCE: It’s the way our brand consultants want us to talk. Like most of my audience talks. Salt-of-the-earth speech is what they call it. Double negatives. Ain’t. That sort of thing. And what are you going to do when you get your MBA?

SAM: I’m thinking I’d like to be a commodities trader, or maybe manage a hedge fund. I’m thinking I’d enjoy working on Wall Street, and wearing $2700 Italian suits. I’d like to spend $125 on a haircut, and drive a McLaren. Why are you groaning, Pa?

BRUCE:  You know how you’re going to get an MBA? Over my dead body is how.

SAM: Oh, perfect. Evan gets to be a singer-songwriter, and Jess [his sister] gets to be an equestrian. I’m the only one who doesn’t get to be what his heart is telling him to be?

BRUCE: Maybe not. Jess wanted to be an equestrienne. The brand consultants said no way. Equestrian was bad enough, they said. And they happened to like the idea of Ev’s being a singer-songwriter. It’s a time-honored tradition, they said, big rock stars having kids and siblings who want to follow in their footsteps, but who aren’t very good, like Bob Dylan’s kid Jakob. I think Pete Townshend’d daughter made an album. And Paul McCartney’s boy James.

SAM: How about Marlon Richards? He’s an art gallery curator.

BRUCE: There’s a bad apple in every barrel.
SAM: All right, then. I’ll be a singer/songwriter if it’s so important to you.
BRUCE: Nope. The rule’s only one per family. The brand consultants have been thinking something earthy and noble. Something requiring strength and courage. Something that benefits, you know, others.
SAM All right. I’ll be a lifeguard.
BRUCE No, you won’t. Too seasonal.

SAM How about one of those guys who holds up a little sign and shepherds little kids through crosswalks near elementary schools?

BRUCE Warmer, and therein a hint. Much warmer. Infernal.

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