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  • jdettmann

The Real Boss

In a fit of wild optimism a month or so ago, H and I drank more than one glass of wine and like the unbridled hedonists we aren’t we got a bit crazy with the laptop and the credit card and booked tickets to see Bruce Springsteen in concert. Going out to a concert! we thought. Like young people (well, young people in 1987)! So what if we will have a three-month-old baby at that point? It’ll be absolutely fine.

Come the week of the concert and my mum, who had bravely offered to babysit both May Blossom and Garnet, politely asked how we were going teaching Garnet to drink from a bottle. Ah, yes, that. Great! He’s really coming on, we lied. Honestly, we hadn’t tried since a few attempts when he was about four weeks old. At that point, he was pretty open to new things and happily sucked away at the newborn teat of the bottle for ages, to absolutely no effect. No matter how long it was in his mouth, the level of milk in the bottle never dropped. Now at the risk of offering too much lactation information, I’m going to tell you that I have what is known as ‘very fast letdown’. What that means is that when the milk starts flowing, it really starts flowing, so Garnet doesn’t have to suck very hard to get a drink. He can pretty much lie there like a small Mr Cresosote with his mouth open and get very fat very fast. Bystanders get wet. Our car dashboard and much of our furniture have spray marks. Drinking from a bottle, on the other hand, takes a bit of work, and who wants to work for their dinner? Not my boy, that’s who.

We tried with the bottle a few more times in the days leading up to the concert, and while he wasn’t a huge fan, each time he drank enough that I thought he would be okay for a few hours while we were out. Especially since he goes to sleep at 7 pm, like some sort of baby in a baby instruction book, and hadn’t woken for a feed before midnight for over a month.

UNTIL FRIDAY NIGHT. On Thursday we realised Bruce Springsteen, being an Old Feller, was going on stage at 7 pm, which meant we needed to leave home at 6 pm. I fed Garnet as much as I could all day, including right before we walked out the door, but there were still tears as we left. Not promising. An hour and a half of traffic jams later, we were at the Allphones Arena in Homebush, where we lined up for twenty minutes for hot dogs and beers. By then it was 8 pm. Luckily it turns out Bruce goes on stage at 7 like May Blossom goes to bed at 7: that is to say, really at 8.15.

Being cheap, our seats were in the nosebleed section, but we were right in line with the stage and could see all the musicians really well. And it may actually have been all the musicians. In the world. There were scores of them. There were guitars and two drumkits and scads of men with brass instruments and a lady with four maracas and a fiddle and backup singers and keyboard players and a man with a piano accordian. (Although it turns out that a trombone, two trumpets, two saxophones, a fiddle and a piano accordian all played together sound exactly like one man on the bagpipes would, so there’s a little efficiency measure for you, Bruce, in these belt-tightening times.)

And then there was Bruce Springsteen. Or Bruce Bringsteen, as my older brother thought the Boss was called until he was eighteen. That man is fucking rock and roll on legs. I’ve always kind of liked him, in the sort of way you like a musician but don’t own any of his music, but once I met H that had to change. Suddenly there was an almost-life-sized picture of Bruce hanging on the wall of my kitchen. May Blossom could, by twelve months, point to all the family pictures in our house and name the people in them. Bruce was included. I listened to more and more of his music and like it more and more. But I didn’t expect to feel such a surge of envy of the people down the front. I didn’t expect to share H’s rage at our fellow Sydneysiders who seemed to be booing the great man after each song. (It took us an embarrassingly long time to realise they were saying ‘Bruuuuuce’.)

Suddenly I came over all Courtney Cox and I wanted it to be me touching his hand, me whose beer he reached out and skulled, me who passed him overhead as he crowdsurfed halfway across the auditorium. Seriously, if it hadn’t been for the fact that nothing kills a rock and roll vibe faster than a G-cup maternity bra being hurled onstage, and that I haven’t got much of a throwing arm, I would have Tom Jonesed the man in a heartbeat.

All things considered then, it was probably a blessing in disguise that eleven songs in came the text message that Garnet was awake, beside himself with hunger and having none of this bottle bullshit. BRING HOME THE BOOBS TOUT DE SUITE, LADY.

So we did. By the time we got home an hour later he was asleep on Mum’s chest, still sobbing every few minutes. H took a little longer to stop weeping. No, not really — he is as gaga for this little bloke as I am, so we didn’t mind too much. I’m sure the last thirteen songs were rubbish anyway. I may love you, Bruce, but as you say, we take care of our own.

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