Jake loses everything. It is fun to watch him leave a room. He will walk out the house without a jacket in the middle of an artic freeze. At school while every other student is packing their homework into army size rucksacks Jake will trot out of the classroom with a smile on his face and have no clue that he has just left every obligation for tomorrow’s school work twenty feet behind him. My absolute favorite occurs when we are making good time on our way home, we’ve just crisscrossed Seattle after having a pleasant evening at a friend’s house, and I will hear “Hey Dad… Dad? I think I left my (personal item) back at _____’s house.”
At home, the daily canvas starts like a missing person APB. The looming school bell threatens to sound in t-minus two minutes. Jake’s call for his missing item (shoe, sock, jack, hoodie, etc.) starts just as we are out the front door. Frantically we typically enlist Lily, then rapid calls to our friends and lastly our neighbors. The missing item search broadens to the entire neighborhood, then the local Police precinct even the Coast Guard. The entire time my son has a look of –“What*?”– on his face, as if this manhunt has nothing to do with him.
Teacher Tim had Jake down in pre-school. At our first teacher / parent conference Tim explained, “Well, Jake is in his head most of the time.” We asked for clarification. “I wouldn’t say he is in his body as much as his head.” Sweet man, I wish I could see him now to tell him nothing has changed.
If Jake could stop that soundtrack in his head we might have a fighting a chance at holding on to his wardrobe. When music is playing Jake is like a moth to a white-hot flame. There is an endless loop playing in that twelve year olds head. His thoroughbred ears perk up and he focuses directly on every sound. We’ve lost him. His mental mapping is on. He is a human Shazam app searching for the origin of a lyric or beat he is hearing.
I first witnessed Jake’s mental distraction when he was five. Standing in line at Starbucks the background music seemed familiar. “Daddy… is the Lucinda Williams?” No Jake, I don’t believe it is. About this moment I turned to Cashier waiting to take my order. Her mouth was wide open. “Oh yes it is, it is Lucinda, how did he do that?” Recently, Jake asked Lisa out of the blue “Mom does John Mullin sing that song ‘Rock-a-bye’?” Lisa stunned by the non sequitur: Almost honey, John Mullin is Lily’s soccer coach I think you mean Shawn Mullins.”
I would have had it made if “Name That Tune” were still on the air. Just like a backstage parent of those one of those twerpy violin prodigies I would take Jake out of school. Have him focus on his gift. Screw the lost clothes, in a matter of days Jake would take down dozens of game show participants in melody roulette. I am certain Jake would nail the melody showdown and guess the Mystery Tune on the final show. I am certain of it. I would turn to Tom Kennedy and say “Tom, the kid can’t remember his homework or his iPod but he just won $100,000 Naming that damn Tune!”
A Father is allow to dream.