Last week my dad and I celebrated his birthday by sitting on his couch and shouting at his Alexa. I’ve never played with an Alexa, I found it (her?) to be unnerving, and cool.
I wanted my dad to hear my new music obsession Tyler Childers. He thought he was okay, but nothing compared to what he’s been listening to – this album where Santana covers basically every epic rock song ever. My dad and I have always bonded over music. It’s like a language of subtext for all the things we can’t say.
I teased him that at least he’s out of his Pitbull phase, which is all he wanted to listen to after getting home from the hospital from his liver transplant. I’d wondered if the human the liver inhabited before my dad had been a Pitbull fanatic, like the man I met in Denver on a cannabis dispensary tour bus a few years before who was following Pitbull around the country with his wife. It had surprised me to learn there are Pitbull super fans, but not as much as I was surprised to have my rock-n-rolling, blues guitar playing father come back from the edge of liver failure death insisting that “Fireball” is one of the best songs ever made.
Dad, on the couch: “Are you kidding? Alexa, play Pitbull!” Within seconds, the rap / sing / shout of the little bald man with the fiery hips reverberates throughout the apartment. “I love Pitbull! I’ve got all his records! He’s Mr. Worldwide!” I groan and tell Alexa to play Santana again. But the truth is I don’t mind Pitbull. I just wanted to shout at the slave inside the tiny boom box with the sorta sexy name of Alexa. On comes Santana, shredding his guitar as Rob Thomas sings.
I remind my dad of the time he took me and Machete (when we were 15 and it was the night before our PSATs) to see Matchbox 20 in Reno, and he made us leave before their big hit (the one that goes “I want to push you around / well I will / well I will”).
“I made us leave?!” He asks, aghast. “Yeah, to beat traffic.” And to be honest we’re kinda stoned because it’s his birthday and his doctors have cleared him to do things like smoke a little weed and he’s no longer sick and we’re together and so we laugh and laugh and laugh, and Alexa doesn’t say a word.