Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Happy Birthday Eric post

So today Eric is twenty years old, which means that it's twenty years ago today that I almost gave a cab driver a heart attack.

I could have sworn I posted this story here before, but I just checked the archives and did a word search and can't find it anywhere, so maybe I never did talk about the day Eric was born but I find that hard to believe. So in any event, if you already know the story, you have my permission to skip ahead.

I'd just entered my ninth month, was still working full-time, and at the stage of my pregnancy where I was scheduled to see the obstetrician every week for a status check. I went to work that morning and had a lunchtime appointment with the doctor, whose office was five blocks away from mine.

So I strolled over there; by now I was an old friend at the doctor's office having just given birth to Julie the January before -- it seemed like I lived there for almost two years -- so I hopped up on the examining table, cracking jokes, while the doctor snapped on those dreaded rubber gloves and began his, um, probe. I'll never forget the expression on his face -- a shadow passed over it -- he looked really alarmed, and said "I'll be right back. Don't move."

Err...both of my feet were in the stirrups and moving wasn't an option after seeing his expression and hearing the anxiety in his voice. Oh my god, what was it? Did he not hear a heartbeat? I searched around the room frantically, hoping he'd left his stethoscope behind so I could listen for myself...like I really knew how the hell to do that.

But it was moot because he returned seconds later with his partner, who quickly slid into a pair of gloves as well and did a probe of his own. The two of them exchanged glances and I would have had to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to realize something major was going on.

"What is it?" I gasped, terrified.

"Robin? Are you in any pain right now?" asked doctor #2.

"No!" I said probably a little too vehemently. But it was true. I wasn't. Terrified, yes, in pain, no.

"No pain at all?" My doctor appeared to be in a state of total disbelief.

"What's wrong? Why won't you tell me what's wrong?" I could feel myself getting hysterical. (Who me? Get hysterical? Impossible!)

"Robin. Listen to us. Nothing is wrong. It's just...it's just..." Doctor #2 looked at my doctor, as if it were his call to make.

"You are over seven centimeters dilated, Rob," my doctor said.


"You are in active labor right now. You don't even feel a contraction? No cramping? Nothing?"

"No! Wait...are you telling me I'm giving birth now? In your office?"

I was incredulous but not really scared. Hell, I was in no pain whatsoever. If I could have a Hollywood style, contraction free birth right there in the doctors' office within the next few minutes, how lucky would I be?

Wait. There are reasons babies need to be born in hospitals. Arghhh...within seconds fear set in bigtime...and err...so did the sudden spasms of pain.

My doctor spoke to me in calm, even tones, knowing that I was about to go off the deep end.

"Robin. Listen to me. I need you to get dressed right now, take a cab to the hospital, and I will meet you there. Go in through the emergency room. Give me your husband's telephone number -- I will have my nurse call him so he can leave work now and meet us there as well. Just stay calm, make sure you take a cab -- I know the hospital is only a six blocks away but I don't want you walking. Okay?"

"Okay," I gasped, in a total state of shock.

I got dressed, practically doubling over every time a contraction hit, which was like every two minutes, and headed to the lobby to hail a cab.

Except for one problem.

Fuck! Because I was still fairly lucid, I realized I didn't have any money. Twenty years ago, I didn't have a debit card...I had to get my money the old fashioned way, by cashing a check at the bank. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Oh well. The bank was right down the street. It would only take a minute or two and then I could get in a cab and head to the hospital.

Except there was a line in the bank. A long line.

I hopped from foot to foot. Finally I couldn't take it any more.

"I'm in labor, I'm in labor," I babbled to the people ahead of me. "I need to cash a check so I can take a cab and go to the hospital." People turned around and stared at me but I was in that desperate mode where I didn't really give a damn...oh dear lord, I did not want to give birth to Eric James Marshall Slick in a bank. Yeah, we'd already picked out his name...my boy is named for both Clapton and James Marshall Hendrix...Gary and my favorite guitar players other than Adrian Belew har har...and how insane that he did in fact turn out to be a musician though I guess I should have named him "Keith" or even better, Charlie...and you are all hereby ordered to click on that link because even two years later, I am still blown away every time I read it and realize....oh god.

Anyway, I made it to the front of the line, managed to cash a check and even made small talk with the teller "Yeah, I'm in labor right now. Ever have a baby born in your bank? Ha ha - isn't this hilarious. Ow...ow...ow..."

This was also before cell phones so I wasn't able to call Gary and even check to see where he was -- and that would be running every red light in Philadelphia as he raced to the hospital, which was a good half hour away even if he didn't hit traffic.

Unfortunately, I did. Hit traffic, that is. I hailed a cab and luckily one stopped right away -- a very kind gentleman wearing a turban.

"Jefferson Hospital," I shrieked.


Oh my god. A rookie driver.

"llth and Walnut. Just take Locust Street five blocks to 11th, make a left up 11th and we'll be right there." Oh shit. That's where the emergency room entrance was, wasn't it? Or was that 10th Street? Never mind, we'd find it.

But as I said, no sooner did I get in that cab when we hit gridlock. I mean, we didn't move. We were in the downtown Philly traffic jam from hell.

"Oh god, we have to get off this street," I moaned. "I'm having a baby..."

The driver turned around and stared as if seeing me for the first time and realizing the enormity of both my belly and the situation.

"A baby? Oh no thank you very much, no baby, no baby," the driver stuttered.

"Yeah. I need to get to the hospital."

So he turned up 16th Street, which was the worst move he could have made, because there are no right turns until Market Street, which was two blocks above the hospital and took us right into another jam at City Hall, where the traffic patterns are always skewed and messy.

We inched down the street, hitting every fucking red light.

"Oh my god," I moaned as another contraction hit.

The driver turned around again.

"No thank you very much, no thank you very much, no baby, no baby, no baby in the cab."

No shit.

And he kept repeating it. No thank you very much, no baby, no baby. If I would have had a frying pan handy, I would have cracked it over his head.

I looked at my watch and almost had a heart attack. It was now thirty minutes since I left the doctor's office with strict instructions to get into a cab to go to a hospital six blocks away.

"I have to get out," I told the driver. "I'll walk the rest of the way. I'll never make it otherwise."

What was I thinking? All I knew was, I was not giving birth in that cab, and that the doctor was going to be mad at me, and poor Gary was probably having a stroke.

I jumped out of that cab and literally ran four blocks to the hospital. I arrived at the emergency room dripping sweat (it was a very hot May 15 in 1987) and in a state of shock.

Both my husband and doctor were already there.

I remember the doctor freaking out "Where were you?" and me mumbling something back about having to go to the bank and both the doctor and Gary staring at me like I'd completely lost my mind...anyway...they immediately got me prepped and I swear to God, Eric came into the world an hour later, sweetly and with no problems whatsoever...I didn't ask for heroin or a gun like I did when I was in labor with Julie...he just, err, popped right out without even a whimper from me...and that's basically how Eric has been for all twenty years of his life...the sweetest, nicest, most problem free kid a parent could ever want.

Anyway, speaking of Eric...and Julie...

There's an article today over at Jam Base which talks about Uber Lord Paul Green and the upcoming School of Rock Festival, which says, in part:

"Since 1998, a mad genius named Paul Green has been on a quest to educate the world's youth in the ways of rock & roll. Originally teaching just a handful of students out of his Philadelphia apartment, the school now has 31 branches nationwide, together boasting over 2,500 students, and is planning for international expansion. In Green's view, any kid, age 5-18, regardless of musical proficiency or experience, should be playing in a band with other students of varying skill levels, and onstage in front of an audience in a real rock club within months of first holding an instrument. And it's hard to deny he gets results: two of his original students now comprise King Crimson guitar legend Adrian Belew's backing band, and the School of Rock All-Stars - the very best players from his schools nationwide - have shared the stage with everyone from Alice Cooper to Eddie Vedder...

...And of course the festival lineup wouldn't be complete without King Crimson/Talking Heads/David Bowie/Brian Eno guitar legend Adrian Belew and his aforementioned School of Rock-educated rhythm section.

And if you click on the School of Rock Fest link, you'll see it says:

"Adrian Belew is basically the unifying factor behind all the coolest music of the late 70's & early 80's. Lodging time with David Bowie, The Talking Heads, Frank Zappa and, of course, King Crimson, Belew is a true guitar pioneer, and as creative a player as anyone who's ever plugged in. His current trio consists of himself (duh) and two Paul Green School of Rock graduates - brother/sister rhythm section Eric and Julie Slick, on drums & bass respectively. If that isn't an advertisement for how awesome this school is, we don't know what is."

So yeah, our family is pretty psyched about all of this, and I was talking with Eric yesterday and realized that he would be playing ten shows in six days as follows:

June 19: Belew Trio, Nashville
June 21: Belew Trio, Virginia
June 22: Belew Trio, Annapolis
June 23: SOR Fest - 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. - Eric will play with Mike Keneally
June 23: Belew Trio - Sellersville, PA - June 23, 8:00 p.m.
June 24:
12:15 to 12:45 p.m. Eric will play with Crescent Moon, featuring Dave Dreiwitz from Ween
2:00 to 3:00 p.m - Eric plays with Belew Trio
5:15 to 5:45 p.m. - Eric plays with **PRFSR*DRSZ**
6:00 to 6:30 p.m. - Eric plays with Chris Harford
June 25: Belew Trio, BB Kings

This of course does not take into consideration the week before when Eric will be playing at Bonnaroo from June 14-17 -- yep, he's on the bill for all four days.

But as I've said many times before, this is the stuff Eric...and our family...lives for. We can't wait!

So Happy Birthday Eric...I will refrain from singing the lyrics to Sgt. Pepper to you today but you know I am dying to do it so I will post the opening for you here instead:

It was twenty years ago today,
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They've been going in and out of style
But they're guaranteed to raise a smile.
So may I introduce to you
The act you've known for all these years,
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
We're Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,
We hope you will enjoy the show,
We're Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,
Sit back and let the evening go.
Sgt. Pepper's lonely, Sgt. Pepper's lonely,
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
It's wonderful to be here,
It's certainly a thrill.
You're such a lovely audience,
We'd like to take you home with us,
We'd love to take you home.
I don't really want to stop the show,
But I thought that you might like to know,
That the singer's going to sing a song,
And he wants you all to sing along.
So let me introduce to you
The one and only Billy Shears (very tempting to insert Eric's name here but even I am not that corny...though of course you know I will probably sing it to him later which is probably why, if he reads this first, he'll be hiding from me for the rest of the day)
And Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band!

Happy Birthday, Eric James Marshall Slick.

P.S. This blog strongly supports Michael Nutter for Mayor of Philadelphia. Please get out and vote today and please let my decision influence you. (As if...but yeah, I did my research, watched the debate, and Michael Nutter is an extremely intelligent man who will represent this city and make us all proud instead of embarrassed (not that our present administration EVER embarrassed us...oy...was it Time Magazine who said we had the worst Mayor in the U.S.? Christ, what an understatement...)