Columns

There’s only one way to rock when you’re number three

Some women might chafe at being their husband’s third choice.

Not me.

When Derek read Sammy Hagar was coming to Northern Quest this summer, he quickly snapped up two tickets. My husband is a fan of all things Van Halen, and Hagar famously fronted for the band during David Lee Roth’s extended absence. The fact that former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony now tours with Hagar just sweetened the deal for Derek.

I’m not a Van Halen fan, and I only vaguely remember the Red Rocker’s solo career. As for Montrose and Chickenfoot?

I shook my head when Derek insisted I must have heard of Hagar’s other bands.

You see, while my husband was rocking out to Blue Oyster Cult, The Cars and Van Halen, I got my groove on with Bon Jovi, Blondie, Billy Joel, and way too much Air Supply.

I wasn’t worried about brushing up on my rock ’n’ roll ignorance because Derek planned to attend the concert with his brother, who at 13 months his junior, enjoys the same high school musical memories as Derek.

Alas, Darrol, an emergency room physician in Pullman, had to work the night of the concert.

No worries, because one of Derek’s good friends frequently goes to concerts with him, and also happens to own a signed Sammy Hagar guitar.

I knew they’d have a great time.

Then his friend found out about a family wedding he had to attend.

Derek looked at me doubtfully.

“Zach would go with me,” he said.

Our third son inherited his father’s love of Van Halen.

“But if you go with me, I’ll spring for a couple’s massage at the Spa,” Derek continued. “And dinner.”

I grinned.

“You had me at spa.”

So, Saturday afternoon we slipped into the hot tub at La Rive at Northern Quest, and sipped some wine, while we waited for the attendants to call us for our massages.

“I like Sammy Hagar better already,” I said.

Imagine my surprise when I liked him even more once he took the stage!

Some tunes like “I Can’t Drive 55,” and “Right Now” were familiar due to radio play back in the day, but others like “Why Can’t This Be Love,” and “Mas Tequila” were fun new songs to me.

Derek was thrilled with the set list, and even more pleased that Hagar’s voice has held up so well.

“He sounds way better than David Lee Roth did in Tacoma,” Derek said.

He’d taken two of our sons to see Van Halen several years ago when they played in Tacoma, and while they had a great time, Derek said Roth’s vocals sounded strained and the band played louder to cover the weakness.

Hagar didn’t need any such help Saturday night. And in my opinion the Red Rocker is hotter at 71, than he ever was at 31. His moplike head of curls has been tamed just a bit and he’s trim, fit, tanned, and has moves better than Jagger’s.

“Must be all that tequila,” Derek mused.

Hagar founded a tequila company in the ’90s and sold it several years ago.

Whatever the reason, Hagar still has the pipes to hit all the right notes. But even better, on Saturday it was apparent to his thousands of fans at Northern Quest that Hagar truly loves what he’s doing.

His appreciation of the venue and the crowd seemed sincere. When it came time for his encore, he didn’t bother to leave the stage.

Instead, he stayed and gave the audience more of what they wanted.

Turns out I was one of those fans screaming for more.

If Hagar’s right that “There’s Only One Way to Rock,” then being your husband’s third choice is sure a fun way to do it.

Columns

Sometimes relaxing is so stressful!

Clenching the steering wheel, I muttered while the tractor in front of me slowly puttered. A quick glance at the clock on my dash confirmed my fear – I was going to be late for my relaxing getaway at the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort.

The muscles in my neck tightened, my jaw clenched – the masseuse would have her work cut out for her.

I’d hoarded the spa gift certificate and overnight stay coupon for a rainy day, and on a sunny October Friday that day arrived.

The previous Sunday our pastor had preached a sermon on rest – a reminder that God created both work AND rest, but sometimes we aren’t very good at the latter.

That would be me. I squirmed in the pew as I thought of all the times I’d said yes to work projects with deadlines that cut into quiet time.

As a wife and mother, I try to ensure my family gets the focus and attention they need from me, but I’m not nearly as vigilant about carving out time for myself. And honestly, I like to be busy. Too much down time makes me nervous. Busy means I’m accomplishing – achieving – isn’t that the American ideal?

On that fateful Sunday, I’d just wrapped up an extensive project for a national magazine and hoped to take some time off. But Monday a new client beckoned with intriguing assignments and a lucrative contract. I’ll take a break next month, I thought, looking at my full calendar. Maybe even a week off.

Then I checked the expiration date on my gift certificates. Suddenly, relaxation had a deadline! I couldn’t let these thoughtful gifts go to waste. So, with that Sunday sermon ringing in my ears, and with my family’s encouragement I took a Friday off, planning to enjoy a drive to the CdA Casino, loosen up with a soothing massage, have dinner with a girlfriend and truly unwind with an overnight stay.

The problem with that scenario began with an email. Foolishly, I checked my messages before loading my overnight bag into the car. One simple query ate into my morning and my “day off” dwindled to an afternoon off.

Still, when I got behind the wheel the sun was shining and I had wonderful things to look forward to – those things did NOT include a traffic jam led by a meandering tractor.

By the time the fellow pulled off to the side of the road, a long line of casino-bound cars snaked behind him. And then I missed my turn. When I finally arrived I had five minutes to make it to my massage.

I schlepped by bag to the front desk, only to find the one group in front of me had questions – lots of questions about rooms, about restaurants – you name it, they asked.

I fidgeted. I fumed. I fussed. When I finally reached the check-in desk I asked the helpful staffer to notify the spa that I was running late.

After tossing my bag on the bed, I rushed down to the spa, where they kindly called the restaurant and moved my dinner reservations back. When I was finally ensconced in a plush robe I texted my friend, informing her of my tardiness.

Who knew relaxation could be so stressful?

It turns out I’m not alone in my struggle with carving out respite time. How else to explain that today – the one day the year Americans set aside to contemplate our blessings, has now been infiltrated by businesses and consumers angling to get a jumpstart on Black Friday sales?

Glossy ads beckon us to give thanks by driving to malls and opening our wallets.

Perhaps shopping equals R&R for some, but I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that consumerism trumps time off.

Today, my brother and sister-in-law are hosting Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve baked two apple pies and a have green bean casserole ready to pop in the oven. Amid the bustle of family, food and football, I plan to relish the slower pace of this national holiday.

It may be at the table or it may be when the house has emptied – but sometime today I’m going to take a deep breath and not think about what comes next. I’m going to intentionally put deadlines, dessert and dirty dishes from my mind and relax, savoring the feast and the fellowship.

Work can wait. So can shopping. For once I’m going to excel at rest.

Happy Thanksgiving.

This  column first appeared in the Spokesman Review, November 28, 2013