When it was first announced that Weird Al Yankovic was coming to the Paramount Theatre Friday, I got a little jolt of giddiness. Yes! Weird Al, coming to Austin! I wrote it in red on my calendar. After his publicist contacted me about a possible interview or concert review, I e-mailed her back in record “hack-to-flack” speed. She left a phone message, which I promptly returned. Usually, I consider publicists to be just phone solicitors who can pronounce my name. But there is one in Los Angeles named Bryn who owns me.
I’m not really a big fan of Yankovic’s musical parodies, the first of which surfaced 25 years ago when he set “My Bologna” to the music of the Knack’s “My Sharona.” I do appreciate his ability to stay on top of the pop scene — last year’s Grammy-winning “Poodle Hat” CD parodied the likes of Eminem, Avril Lavigne and White Stripes. But Yankovic’s often puerile comedy is aimed more at the Mad Magazine crowd, and I let my subscription lapse, oh, about 35 years ago.
So why am I so excited about Weird Al’s Austin stop? He’s my 10-year-old son’s favorite performer, his Elvis. I’ve tried to get Jack to listen to the original versions of songs Yankovic has redone, but my young ‘un prefers “Like a Surgeon” to “Like a Virgin,” “Amish Paradise” to “Gangsta’s Paradise,” “Eat It” to “Beat It.” One of his favorite movies is “UHF,” the 1989 Weird Al vehicle that’s painful to watch if you’re older than 14.
And here I am, coming off my vacation a day early to see Weird Al.
This is what happens when you finally resign yourself to life as it is. You’re not going to be rich and famous. You’re not going to dunk on Rasheed Wallace. You’re not going to get six encores at Royal Albert Hall. Reality hits, so your new purpose in life is to make sure your offspring fare better than you did.
We want our kids to be happy all the time, so we eat lunch at whatever lousy fast-food joint has the hot new kid’s meal toy. We pay good money to explore caves or feed ostriches out of our cars, things we never imagined ourselves doing before the stork arrived, wearing a smirk. Raise your hand if you’ve ever sat through a live performance by Barney and Friends? We spend gorgeous Saturday afternoons in darkened laser tag mazes, getting zapped by someone whose code name is SpongeBob. We’ve stood and clapped at the end of stiff, plotless school plays and hoisted countless pinatas in the park on scorching afternoons. We’ve been to the circus, that big top of tedium, not once, but three times. Oh, the “quality boredom” that comes to those who put their kids first.
You know you’re kidwhipped if: You spend more money on anime than your wife does on Mary Kay. Your kid’s got enough Yu-Gi-Oh! cards to build a raft. And there’s a good chance that tomorrow night, you’ll take your child to see Weird Al Yankovic in the flesh.
It’s really a trade-off, I guess. We have kids, in part, because we want to make people who have to hang out with us for at least 18 years. And since our children “never asked to be born,” a phrase that will be used to great advantage, it’s our responsibility to make their being alive as positive an experience as possible.
Our children are our rulers. We don’t really have a choice.
I’m reminded of a scene from “The Sopranos.” No, not the one when Tony puts out a hit on the Wiggles to avoid their upcoming concert. This one finds the violent, powerful mob boss lying in bed with his wife, both wondering how they can deal with their spoiled, unmanageable teenage daughter, Meadow. “If she ever realizes that we’re powerless over her, we’re fucked,” Tony says.