Saturday was our church’s annual Family Fun Day, which is an extravagant neighborhood pseudo-carnival, complete with bounce houses, face painting, makeshift waterslides, and lots and lots of free food. The goal is to invite as many neighbors who are not of our faith to come and partake of the bounteous harvest of tacos and ice cream bars, in the hopes that they’ll come back around for the boring churchy stuff on a Sunday morning.
That doesn’t seem to happen as often as our local leaders might like, but the tacos were quite good.
The best part is the performance of the Rockamatics, a local band of some renown that consists entirely of grown-ups who have yet to abandon adolescence completely. They’re swell guys and remarkably good musicians who play cover versions of rock and roll classics. The lead singer, who directed the Javelin Man movie I wrote and performed almost all the instruments for the accompanying song, is a successful businessman with a great family who would like nothing more than to trade places with Keith Richards, minus the zombie-like pallor and various addictions. It’s also interesting to watch him sing songs with questionable content and tailor them for a Mormon audience.
“The trick is to sing phonetically,” he told me at church today. “So when I’m singing ‘Roadhouse Blues’ by the Doors, the line ‘Well I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer’ becomes ‘Well I woke up this moanin’ and I ga ma sof a myah!’ (They get even more creative with ‘Brown Sugar.’)
Anyway, it’s become something of an annual tradition that they invite me to sit in for a Stones tune at some point during the Fun Day. I’ve done “Start Me Up” twice, and this year it was “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” which requires less lyrical surgery than “Start Me Up” does. (Dead men jump in my version of the latter tune, as opposed to what they do in Mick’s.) It always seems to please and/or shock the crowd, as a relatively mild-mannered middle-aged dude appears, for three minutes, to suffer a contained epileptic seizure in order to stoke the dying embers of a not-quite-burned-out teenage fantasy.
I was somewhat wary of taking the stage this year, given the reaction I had gotten the year previous. On that occasion, our stake president – the guy in charge, for all you Gentiles reading this – was sitting near the front of the stage, and as I started my Jaggeresque strut, complete with a little rooster tail I improvised with my two index fingers, he stood up and walked out in a huff. He came up to me later with a smile on his face and told me it had all been in fun, and he made no effort to revoke my church membership, but I think, despite his protests to the contrary, he was genuinely bugged. It left me to wonder what it was about two fingers wiggled behind my buttocks that sent him over the top.
So I went to a family dinner and asked my brothers and sisters, as well as my parents, whether the rooster tail move was particularly offensive. “Yes, it’s offensive,” my mother told me. “In fact, it’s all offensive, and it’s always been offensive.”
Mom’s never been much of a Stones chick.
This year, thankfully, passed without incident. Of course, the stake president did ask me at the beginning of the day whether or not I’d be performing, and I told him I would be, but I’d tone it down. “Oh, no, no, no,” he said. “It’s great.” However, he was nowhere to be found at the time of the performance, and when I bumped into him later in the day, he asked again if I was going to take the stage. I told him, sheepishly, that I already had.
“Oh, dang!” he said. “I missed it.”
Jokingly, I said “Good. That means my temple recommend is safe.”
Without missing a beat, he came back with, “I didn’t say that.”