Here Are My Dad's Thoughts on Van Halen's Debut
[Editor's Note: Shea Serrano sometimes writes about Why This Song Sucks, and sometimes about his hilarious and poignant life and times. Better put your shoes on because your socks are about to be blown off.]
I'll always remember two: On Halloween in 1998, when I flipped my car into a 15-foot deep drainage ditch. (This one was memorable because I was legit dressed as Aladdin -- like, with the fucking vest and everything -- because we were headed to a costume party. Waving down cars for help in Arabian Night pants is basically the least fun thing of all.) Then, in 2003 when I, for the life of me, couldn't unravel the mystery that had gripped my chassis.
So I did what I always do anytime I can't figure something out, I called my Parp (dad).
I said (something like), "Parp, my car won't start. I'm not sure what happened. It worked fine yesterday when I got home from work. I've tried and tried and tried but I can't figure it out. Everything looks like it's fine. Can you come help?" At the time, he lived more than 200 miles away. I thought nothing of asking because 2003 Shea was a total fucking prick. He said, "I'll be there Friday after work."
That Friday morning, he woke up, went to work, drove his city bus for 11 hours, got off of work, then got in his car and drove the three and a half hours to me. When he got there, we talked, got some food, and then went outside to figure out the specifics of the monster overhaul we were to work on.
He asked me the questions he always asked (Did you [THIS]? Have you [THAT]? Did it sound like [THIS]? Did it feel like [THAT]?), listened to my responses, calculated a list of possible problems, tightened his lips, then crawled under the car and tapped on something. Before I could squat down to join him, he popped back up.
He looked at me. His eyebrows furled.
I looked at him. My eyebrows went towards the sky.
And then he spoke: "It's out of gas, son."
IT WAS FUCKING OUT OF GAS.
And you know what he said about it afterwards? Nothing. Not one single word. To this day, he has never brought it up. In comparison: I beat him in basketball one time in 1996 and have not let more than a week go by without reminding him. 2013 Shea ain't such a peach either, I suppose.
Anyway, but to the point: His 51st birthday was earlier this month, and Wife and I wanted to do something nice for him. So we bought him two tickets to see Beyonce at her sold out show in Houston. Somehow, he is a MEGA Beyonce fan. We've never discussed the specifics of his relationship with her, so I can't speak to the origins. I can only speak to the degree of fandom, which is ferocious.
So Wife and I got him the tickets from StubHub for more than I care to admit. He rode in from San Antonio Sunday morning, spent a day and a half helping me fix things around the house, then prepped for the concert by spending Monday afternoon watching old rock videos on YouTube (Zeppelin, Scorpions, SRV, Phil Collins, etc). Eventually, he settled on a full stream of Van Halen's 1978 album Van Halen, which he considers to be their ultimate work because you can play it in the car at basically any volume and it never sounds bad. That led to this conversation: