I will never forget it. It was Tuesday night, November 8, 2016. Election Day, of all days. We were in my family room. Mothah was on the small couch. JC was on the big couch. I was in my chair. The Baby was sitting between me and JC, on the arm of the big couch, belting out songs from Hamilton, nearly at the top of his little lungs. JC was on his laptop, trying to figure out Mothah’s Hilton Honors account, as she had no recollection of even opening that account or filling out any information regarding Hilton or Honors of any kind, yet there was a Hilton Honors account- in her name– associated with our upcoming reservation at the Midtown Manhattan Hilton. Go figure. We needed that damn number, or we were going to be sans internet for three whole days. I was on my laptop, trying to escape the chaos-at least in my mind. The Election was on the television. This was a lot going on, if I even need to point that out. I was trying like hell to block out the noise of The Baby’s singing and the television, when Mothah said, “Jennifah, I need to talk with you about my Advance Directive.” I looked up, over my glasses and across the room. “WHAT?” I said. “I want to talk to you about my Advance Directive,” Mothah said again. “RIGHT NOW?” I said, having to raising my voice over my little Daveed Diggs, who was mid- What’d I Miss? in my right ear. “Jennifah, it’s nevah a good time, so I figure that now is just as good a time as any”, she said. I had to admit that she had a good point. Lately, it seemed I had had zero time to talk to anyone but myself, and when, was it, really, a good time to talk about anyone’s Advance Directive??? I told The Baby to hush the Hamilton for a few, and turned down the television. Mothah began: Alright. I have finished my Advance Directive. This is in case I evah have to be on life support or any decisions regarding my life have to be made without my input-all of the directions are in my Advance Directive. It’s all taken care of and you don’t need to worry about a thing, Jennifah. “Okay,” I said, wondering if I was supposed to feel some relief at this declaration. I need to tell you something about it-something that is in the Advance Directive, Mothah went on. She had my complete attention. If, at any time, you and youah (your) brothah cannot agree on ‘when to pull the plug’ , “MOTHER!,” I interrupted, as The Baby was listening, wide-eyed and completely enrapt in the conversation. No, Jennifah, it’s fine if he hears this! she said. I backed down, simply because I still do what she tells me to (most of the time) and she continued: If there comes a time when you and Eli (my brother) cannot agree to ‘pull the plug’, you are to play Rochambeau until one of “WHAT?!” I practically yelled, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? ROCHAMBEAU?!” YES, JENNIFAH, ROCHAMBEAU!! she yelled back at me. Now, let me just tell you, in case you do not know, because I have found that many do not know, that Rochambeau is another name for ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’. (Now, I am not going to go into the many theories of why this is, because there are too many, and, well, the truth is that nobody really knows why. If you are interested in learning about some of the theories, then Google it. It’s a very interesting read if you have nothing better to do! ) I had this sudden mental image of Eli and myself…standing at Mothah’s hospital bedside, where she would be all hooked up to monitors, and with tubes coming out and going in everywhere, her hair looking like Kramer on Seinfeld….and the two of us playing ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ to see who would get to decide when to ‘pull the plug’. I started laughing. Surely she was not serious! But she was serious. Dead Serious (pun intended) LOL. I MEAN IT, JENNIFAH! IT’S IN THE PAPAH’S! AND IT HAS BEEN NOTORIZED! Mothah said. Oh Lord. That meant somebody outside of our extended family had actually witnessed this! Mothah had more to say about it: Now, Jennifah, I came to this decision because I realized that if I was on life suppoht, that Eli might be ready to ‘pull the plug’ aftah, say, seven days, but then you would want to give me a few m0re weeks, and y’all would get into a fight. Rochambeau will keep you from fighting with each othah.You have to do it, Jennifah, because it is in my Advance Directive. “Okay”, I said, “We will. Can we stop this now?” Yes, Mothah said, laughing. She knows I hate talking about the mere possibility of her not being immortal. The Baby started up another Hamilton song and JC turned the tv volume back up. He had managed to locate Mothah’s Hilton Honors account, somehow. I sat in my chair, realizing yet again, that I have bat-shit-crazy blood running through my veins, and thinking that perhaps (in 25 years or so) I should start honing my ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ skills….. Seriously, people. I could not make this shit up if I tried.
A few weeks ago, my fellow Hamilton-obsessed friend told me about Daveed Diggs’ band, Clipping, coming to The Earl on November 2. Tickets were $12. I immediately bought two online. It was on a Wednesday night. I would have to go to work the next day, but I figured what the hell? It was Daveed! I’d missed him in Hamilton. He hadn’t left the show yet on July 6, when The Middle Child and I saw it, but he was not performing that day. THIS, I decided, THIS, was my chance to see Daveed Diggs. JC has taken Mini Me to many concerts-often waiting behind the venue with other fans for an autograph or a photo. I figured we could just do the same thing for moi…
There were three bands playing on November 2, and the order in which they were going to play got changed around a time or two. When I found out that Clipping was not going on until 11:00 pm, yes, I said, PM, I thought I might have to pass on Daveed. I sat in my chair at work and thought about how late 11:00 PM was, and how tired I was going to be the next day, and how early I like to go to bed. Who, exactly, was I trying to kid, here? I was never gonna make it. I realized that I had not left the house to go to an event that started that late since, well, perhaps…1994?! Here was the quandary: either I man up and stay up and maybe meet Daveed Diggs, OR I wuss out and be my normal, boring self and stay at home and go to bed by 10:00. Which would it be? It wasn’t that hard of a decision-for someone who flew to NYC and slept on the damn sidewalk for 2.5 days to see Hamilton?! Of course I manned the hell up. I could not, for the life of me, figure out what to wear to The Earl. I had never been there before. JC said not to wear any good shoes-it was like a fraternity house. Oh Lort! He said I should expect tattoos and nose rings and such. Tattoos? I said to him. I have five of those! I’d fit right in! I finally settled on this cute little black dress that I bought at J.Crew in Chicago. I know you are already laughing. I paired it with my leopard print cardigan. It is still hot here in Atlanta, but I wore my flat, tall, black biker boots that zip up the back. My purse has a studded strap, so I thought with that and the couple of tattoos that would be visible, I might sort of fit in-maybe. (No. Nada. Nein. Never. Not even a little bit)The Shankman’s picked us up about 8:30. I was already yawning. When we walked into The Earl, I gasped. As in for my life. JC told me it was an all smoking place-one of the few left here. I had told myself I could handle it. No asthmatic can handle it. In fact, only heavy smokers could truly handle that. Thank God I remembered my inhaler. The front part of The Earl is a restaurant and bar, and we were going to eat first, so we were seated at a booth. We seemed to be the only table having to use the iPhone flashlight to read the menu. Lauren was sitting across from me and Scott, across from JC. About 5 minutes into it, Daveed walks out into the bar. OMG. We were dying. Just me and Lauren, of course. Scott and JC were trying to talk to us and we were totally not even paying them any attention. We decided that we would not bother Daveed while he was so obviously trying to order food. I did get JC to snap a pic of him from the back. LOL. (He is standing at the bar and has on red Chuck Taylor’s) Youth Code was playing before Clipping. We decided to go in and see what they were all about. That lasted about 3 minutes. I could feel my heart beating outside of my body. We went back into the restaurant part of The Earl to wait for Clipping. The last game of the World Series was on in the bar, so that was enough entertainment for us old people. Finally, 11:00 rolled around, and it was time! I am 46 years old. My brother was a devout listener of RunDMC and Eazy-E, Boyz-N-The-Hood, NWA, all the old school Rap–or what I consider old school Rap. I saw Straight Outta Compton and it made me cry. I like to think that I know what Rap is. I knew that Clipping was Rap; HOWEVER, and this is a great, big, GIANT, however: I did not bother to check it out beforehand. Nope. Did not even listen to a single song. Not a one. So, there we all are, and there is a huge screen with nothing but static playing on it on the stage, and Daveed Diggs comes out and everyone starts screaming, and he says, “Yo! ATL, What the fuck is UP?!” and I thought to myself, this is SO not Hamilton! Right after I had that thought, I felt incredibly guilty for having it. I know Daveed Diggs does not want to be identified as “that guy from Hamilton” for the rest of his life. He was not at The Earl to perform selections from Hamilton. I knew it wasn’t going to be Hamilton. I don’t know exactly what I expected, since I never bothered to check it out before we got there!!! The show starts, and it is Rap, but it is a very eclectic style of Rap-almost as if he is rapping, well, clippings of news reels? During the first song, I did not know if I could make it for an hour. By the third song, I was developing an ear for it. By the time we got to Shooter, I was in love. Daveed would say “Shooter” into the mic and we would whisper it back to him: shooter… Just imagine me, in my little J.Crew dress, with my left hand up in the air, moving to this:
Cause he got guns and that shit gon’ bang>Yeah, the shooter brought guns and the shit go bang, hands up>Got guns in this bitch, go bang>Motherfucker better run when this shit go
This my favorite Clipping song. It is awesome. At one point, I had to go to the restroom, but I really did not want to, for fear that I might miss something. I heard a bunch of screaming, DAMN IT. I knew it! When I came out, Daveed had taken his shirt off!! Look, people, for women my age, that is hot entertainment. At one point, he came down into the audience and I was one person away and I thought to myself that I could reach out and touch him. Of course, I did not do it, as that would have been completely inappropriate. He had his shirt on again by then anyway. When he was out in the audience, people kept taking pictures of him with their flashes on! I could not believe it! They were practically blinding the poor man. The girl standing next to me did it three or four times. I really wanted to reach over and knock her phone out of her hand. I think it would have been really easy to do because she looked pretty drunk. Her big doofus husband or boyfriend had broken in front of me and was blocking my view. I took the high road and decided that they were going to feel shitty enough the next morning.
These guys are what I call intellectual rappers. Clipping is made up of William Hutson (Rale), Jonathan Snipes (Captain Ahab) , and Daveed Diggs. If the information I found online is correct, Hutson and Snipes both attended UCLA and Diggs went to Brown. Snipes is a stage sound designer. Hutson has a PhD in Theater and Performance Studies. Daveed Diggs has recently been on “Black-ish”, in addition to his Tony winning year long run as Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in Hamilton. Clipping’s songs are about real life, but in a way that I have never heard lyrics written before. It’s artsy and beautiful. I know you are looking at the refrain I wrote out for you above and thinking to yourself, “yeah, right, I don’t see anything artsy and beautiful about that”. I gave you that particular section so that you could imagine me in my little outfit, at that particular show. There is a difference! How about this:
Got a towel on his face, mophead>Gettin’ money in the desert, hot bread>Wish he had a way home, bread crumbs>Drink himself into a coma, red rum>Soldier’s eyes playin’ tricks, sandwich>Need to get more info, bandwith>Bunch of signs there to read, pamphlets>But that was not to be, Hamlet…..
Same song. I’m telling you, I really think Clipping is great. When it was over, JC and Scott went back into the bar of The Earl to catch some more of the ball game, since it was into extra innings. Lauren and I waited to see if Daveed was going to come out to greet his stalker fans. We were trying to play it cool-you know-as if we look like we hang out regularly at The Earl. After about 10 minutes, right when we were going to call it a night, he walked out! A line immediately formed and he was giving autographs and taking pictures. Scott and JC came back in with our Clipping LP’s we had bought earlier. I had Sharpie’s in my purse. I know to always come prepared to a show. Hell, I had tried to bring both of our Hamiltome’s, but changed my mind at the last minute. Those things are huge. Plus, The Middle Child said, “Mom, do you really want to be the creepy lady with the Hamilton tattoo and two Hamiltome’s in her purse?” The answer was HELL NO, I DID NOT. When it was my turn, I had my phone ready. I showed Daveed the picture of The Baby, dressed as him for Halloween. He cracked up and asked me if I had to make all of that. I got to tell him about me and The Middle Child going to NYC and sleeping on the sidewalk. He could not believe it. Then, after we had our photo made, I showed him my pièce de résistance….my tattoo. He emphatically exclaimed that I was: hardcore! We both laughed and I thanked him and told him how wonderful he was and is and then our little group walked back into the bar of The Earl, where we watched the ball game for another 15 minutes. On the way to the car, Lauren and I happened to glance to our right and there was Daveed and the band-loading their van. We stood there, watching them load music equipment …until JC and Scott brought us back to reality with their arm waving and yelling at us to come on-they were several hundred feet ahead of us. At the same time, we heard cheering coming from both sides of the street. The Cubs had just won the Series. We went into the closest open bar to watch the excitement on screen. We got home about 1:15am. I bolted upright when my alarm went off at 5:00am, petrified I would be late to work-knowing everyone would know where I had been, as it was chronicled on Facebook. I made it through the work day, counting the minutes until I could go home. I still felt as though I was breathing in the smoky air of The Earl. I have been sober for 14 years, so I was not hungover from drinking–only from lack of sleep and an over rush of adrenaline, which will still put a hurtin’ on me. Several times, throughout the day, I had asked myself the question: was it worth it? The answer then, and now, remains the same: HELL YES! and I would do it again! I will always remember what I was doing the night the Chicago Cubs won the World Series after 108 years: I had just met Daveed Diggs, but was actually standing in an alley watching him load his van- just like a stalker. Go figure.
God, I hate Halloween. I really do. It is a colossal waste of money and time. Yet, I continue to participate in it year after year after year….what’s the definition of insanity again? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Hmmm….. Halloween = Insanity. Yep. That is exactly right.
A few months ago (yes, months), The Baby decided he wanted to be Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton Style, for Halloween. HELL YES!!! The Middle Child and I exclaimed!!! I would make the costume in all of my spare time!!! When dost thou thinkest I started??? Thou wouldst be correct if thou guessed about two weeks before Halloween! Why? thou might asketh…Because that’s howeth I rolleth. I ordered the perfect purplish stretch velveteen and satin a couple of months ago, and it sat on the dining room table. I like to tell myself such bullshit like: I work best under pressure…Yeah, yeah, yeah. When will I ever learn? I have been telling myself that shit for years. I found the Colonial shoes online. They were only $27 or something. The buckles weren’t quite as big as I would have liked, but they’d have to do. I mean seriously, it was a costume, not an outfit for an event! I had trouble finding the perfect buttons. Daveed Diggs’ buttons are purple and gold. I finally found some that would have to suffice, on Etsy. They were plastic, but again, it was a costume… There were only 25 of them. I was worried that was not going to be enough. Daveed has a ton of buttons on his get-up. I made the vest and knickers first, then the shirt. The vest was a pain in the ass, but nothing compared to the royal pain that was the purple satin Colonial coat! Oh. My. Lord. I had never sewn on satin before. I shall never again. If it slipped through my fingertips once, it slipped through them 307 times. I had to pin everything with 6,000 pins. The collar would not stand up for love or money. I used several different weights of interfacing, but was not going back to Jo-Ann even if my life depended on it. I was going to put cardboard in it, but I finally said to hell with it and decided that it just wasn’t necessary. I was juggling this costume around work, hernia surgery, and a fit of fibromyalgia. I had to be finished with it the Thursday before Halloween, because The Baby needed to wear it to school on Friday for “Storybook Character Day” of “Peace Week”. Two weeks earlier, as we were riding down the road, Hamilton soundtrack playing as usual, The Baby and I got into a conversation about Thomas Jefferson, and I felt the need to make sure that The Baby knew that Thomas Jefferson was not, indeed, African American, like Daveed Diggs who played him in the original cast of Hamilton. The Baby replied that yes, he did know that. I followed up by saying that Thomas Jefferson probably did not wear purple satin and velvet, either. We had had this conversation before. Many times. This time, though, was different. WHAT? The Baby screamed. HE DIDN’T? WHY AM I BEING THOMAS JEFFERSON? IF HE ISN’T IN A BOOK DRESSED LIKE THAT, THEN IT MAKES NO SENSE!!! Oh. My. Lord. I thought I might just run off the damn road. The kid knew good and damn well that Thomas Jefferson did not wear purple satin and velvet! Luckily, I had my wits about me-a rarity these days-and I immediately thought of The Hamiltome. I pointed out that he could take his Hamiltome to school and show the pictures of Daveed, dressed in purple satin and velvet. That calmed the storm instantly. Crisis averted. Thursday night, we ordered pizza and watched Hamilton’s America on PBS while I braided The Baby’s hair in teeny tiny braids all over his head. He wanted his hair to be wavy and fluffy like Daveed’s. He was up at 5am on Friday, excited to see what it would look like. I was shocked that The Baby, normally quiet and shy at school, was willing to go to school dressed in this loud costume, with his hair all funky. I was a little bit worried. That afternoon, he was quite disheveled. He said his Colonial shoes were not good for P.E. Damn. I had not thought about P. E. I guessed they weren’t! He had rolled his ankle in them. His giant bow was untied, his shoes were all scuffed up, and he announced that he had lost two buttons. TWO BUTTONS?! I said, I hope to GOD you have them! He said that he DID have them. I breathed a sigh of relief because there had been no extra buttons-I had put all 25 on the outfit! I calmed myself down and assured him that I could fix everything before Monday. Now, during all of this, The Middle Child wanted me to make the Eliza Schuyler Hamilton dress. I must’ve been out of my God-damned mind when I agreed. I went on the ultimate quest for the perfect sea foam green taffeta. I could not find it anywhere. I found it a week before Halloween. I wasn’t finished with the purple satin Colonial coat when The Middle Child strode through the dining room one day and casually asked me if her Eliza Dress would be ready for school on Friday. I burst out laughing and then said um HELL NO! She never told me she needed anything for Friday. It was Monday. Thank God for Amazon Prime. She was Wednesday Addams on Friday. As it were, I did not finish with the purple satin coat until Thursday…I started the Eliza Dress on Saturday. I got it all put together, but with no zipper, no hem, no details. I did make the covered buttons, but did not sew them on…because… I could see the disappointment on her face. I had another day of work to put in, and I was willing to do it. It wasn’t that. I knew what it was. It wasn’t perfect enough. I am not a seamstress or a tailor. The Middle Child is a perfectionist of the worst sort. She wants everything to be exact. I explained to her, before I embarked on this project, that this dress would not be exact. In fact, it would be anything but. I thought we were clear on that, but apparently we were not. I’ll be damned, I’ll be damned. It was a costume, not a ball gown – at least in my eyes, but not in the eyes of The Middle Child. There was not a harsh word or a tear, and I’m not quite sure how that came to be. We came to a mutual understanding that she would never be Satisfied by this dress. I, unwilling to throw it away, packed it up and cleaned up the dining room. I still say that the damn thing is better than a lot of shit at Party City. Hell, it’s better than a lot of shit at Target. Damn It.
I had Thomas Jefferson’s outfit ready to go for Monday. JC polished the shoes. I washed the shirt and ironed it. I sewed the two missing buttons back into their places. The Middle Child’s plans fell through at the last minute, but she found something else to do. I rallied and dressed up, myself, which I never do. I bought a 3/8 inch curling iron over the weekend, to curl The Baby’s hair with, so that he wouldn’t have to sleep on braids again. I was on it. Then, Sunday afternoon, The Baby was not feeling well. We went to the movie, and I thought he was better, but in the night, he got up with his temp at 103. Damn It. It figured. I would make that whole costume and then he would get sick and not be able to go trick or treating! I took him to the doctor on Monday morning. Since he did not have flu or strep, the doc said he could go trick or treating if he felt like it, and luckily, he felt like it. Of course, he rolled his ankle at the second house and immediately started crying. I asked him what happened and he told me and then I heard JC say, yeah and now he has sprained his ankle for the rest of the night and the rest of the week! like it was my fault or like I had forced the kid to wear the damn Colonial shoes! I was standing there, in front of my friends, dressed as Eleven from Stranger Things, looking like a complete idiot, carrying an empty Eggo box, with fake blood coming out of my nose, and I was thinking about how fucking much I had put into Hallofuckingween, and how fucking much I was NOT getting out of it. I was D.O.N.E. Give me the keys, I said to JC, I will go home and get him some more shoes. He handed me the keys and I started for the car with my Eggo box. I got almost to the car and my phone rang. It was him calling me, asking me to come back and not go get the shoes. I did. I was still D.O.N.E. We got home before 8:30, and I made JC answer the door for any trick or treaters who came by while I washed Thomas Jefferson’s hair. He was pleased that some people knew who he was. One lady thought he was Beethoven, and even when he told her he wasn’t Beethoven, he heard her say, “I’ve never seen a Beethoven before” bwahahaha. I have to say, for an 8 year old, he is a mighty good sport to dress up like he did. His best friend at school told him he just wanted to show off and be fancy. I told him no, that wasn’t him, it was me… 😉