We watched the movie Crazy Heart the other night. It was like taking a cow path off yet another of the many dirt roads that meander back into my childhood. Jeff Bridges’ obvious Kris Kristofferson-like persona plopped me smack dab into the backseat of an early 70’s brown Ford LTD. I’m sure it’s not every child that has memories of going on dates where she is the one in the back seat and her mother is the one with the boyfriend in the front seat. Such times found me sandwiched between my little brother and my older future stepsister. I stared at the back of my mother’s head. In my opinion it was way too close to my future stepfather’s. Green light from the dashboard gleamed around their cozy profile. It was a very innocent situation that grows tawdry and scandalous in the mind of a protective nine-year old. And it was all accompanied by the eight-track of Hank Williams’ Greatest Hits.
My stepsister, already obsessed with the music, image and blue eyes of Kris Kristofferson, mocked the Hank Williams’ music that cycled through the speakers. In hindsight I’m a little amused at her uncharacteristic ignorance of Kris’s musical influences. After all, Kris did pen a certain lyric which was a not-too-subtle suggestion about what you could do to his backside if you didn’t like Hank.
In the movie, it was another song from my childhood soundtrack (Waylon Jennings’ Are You Sure Hank Done It That Way) that hailed Hank’s reign and influence.
The outlaw music of Jeff and Kris, Hank and Waylon was still lingering in my mind a few nights later when I was at the kitchen table playing a raucous game of Chicken Foot with my kids. Typical for such extended games, distractions were bubbling and brewing as the game wound down. Three kids were texting friends; one was telling a story about finding an improperly disposed of dirty diaper at his place of employment. They were all singing – different songs, none the soundtrack looping through my subconscious thoughts. Noodles and cookies were eaten and analyzed. To my children’s horror, I confessed my aversion to plain M & M’s.
I was able to fight off any frustrations with these distractions by focusing on my duties as scorekeeper – and official “doodler.” At the end of the game, when I had won and the youngest losers had been sentenced to putting the dominoes back in the box, I continued my doodling. I felt my daughter breathing down my back and jiggling with giggles. “Before you made some changes, Mom, I thought that looked like Jesus.”
The same thought had crossed my mind; however, with the revisions, I decided the picture looked more like a self-portrait. Still, I pictured Jesus, whom Kris had called a Capricorn with a “funky bunch of friends.” There was a funky bunch of Jesus’ friends horsing around my kitchen that night. Strange how Kris’s lyrics still had an uncanny way of coloring my life.