Sadie Cracker, Coma News Daily columnist
When I moved back to Coma it was for my kids, because I was alone, and also for my father Stan Bargemeyer who after losing my mother decided to intern at Coma News Daily.
My father and I don’t have a lot in common other than the fact that we have both lost a spouse. Sometimes we meet at Bear’s Biker Bar at night for a drink–he gets the decaf and I go for something a little stronger. We meet here because it’s a middle ground and it’s a place where he and I aren’t lost. Him in his mind and me in my grief.
Charlie, the Coma librarian, is standing on the makeshift stage. The Christmas lights are still up and there’s a tree behind him that’s lost a lot of it’s pine needles but still holds on to it’s twinkling lights.
Tonight Charlie sings “Landslide” which still gets to me. On the radio, Coma News Daily is reporting that the Town Council is proposing a new requirement that children wear helmets all the time for “safety purposes”.
“Time makes you bolder, children get older, I’m getting older too,” Charlie sings.
“That song isn’t written by Axl Rose.” Stan says.
“No Dad,” I say.
Dad’s memory goes sometimes. He’s on an Axl Rose kick right now and thinks the rocker is one of his neighbors.
He points at Charlie and says to me, “You’re a better singer.”
Charlie nods and keeps singing.
Dad smiles and holds my hand.
“Wish they would keep these kids safer these days,” he says.”We kept you so safe.”
And I laugh and think about the 10-mile bike rides and other activities I would do alone as a kid, and then I think about how I fear little Jimmy riding his bike alone and wonder what happened to this X’ed out generation where we fear everything.
“You are a much better mother than a singer,” Dad says. He looks at Charlie and yells, “She’s a much better singer.”
And Charlie stops playing mid-Landslide and says, “get up here and sing it, Sadie.”
I shake my head. I’m a mom. I’m alone. I’ve forgotten how to sing and play guitar.
“Get up there and sing it, Sadie. Don’t be afraid. Just like I taught you as a kid,” Dad says and gives me kiss on the cheek.
So I stand. There’s only five people in the bar. I know them all and three of them are drunk. I walk up to the stage and Charlie hands me his guitar.
I turn around and the stage lights blind me. I see my father, who’s older now. Time has streaked his cheeks with heavy lines. I am sixteen again. I am wearing a too small Nirvana tee shirt. I am in a bar with my guitar. I am Debbie Harry. I am Joan Jett. I am. I am gonna rock this joint. I am.
I am older, too, and I don’t know what to play. My mind is blank. I don’t know what to sing.
“Just sing already.” a drunk biker yells.
“You got it, Sadie,” Charlie says.
I am Cyndi Lauper?
And so I strum the only thing that comes to mind ‘Time after Time,’ because that’s what I sing to the boys at night because I am not Debbie Harry anymore. These days I am just here to catch little people when they fall. Dad stands. He’s clapping. This is embarrassing.
Bear is behind the bar and he starts singing with me. Charlie walks up to the stage and stands beside me too.
“If you fall I will catch you, I will be waiting, Time after Time…”