In 1973 it was his thirteenth birthday and the hottest damn August Binghamton had ever seen. Not that Dan would know. This was the first time – hell, the first morning – Dan had ever been there.
Late last night Dan Sr. drove all the way down to Dover to pick him up.
“Well Lordy,” Dan’s mom said through the screen door.
On the way they sang The Monkey and The Buzzard. Straighten up and fly right! And that soon fell away to The Hole in the Bottom of the Sea. Dan had a good memory but Dan Sr.’s was better. When they stopped at a Denny’s around Nanticoke for some of those American pancakes with the star confetti, he was still going.
“Alright, alright,” Dan said.
Their waitress’ nametag said Betty! After she sat them Dan Sr. asked, “Do you got the time there, Betty?”
She smiled the way women had a way of smiling at Dan Sr. and told him it was just after midnight.
Dan Sr. gulped his coffee, “Well happy birthday, kid.”
When Dan woke up in the morning he jumped out of bed. He decided to feel new because he had reason to. Dan knew his dad wouldn’t be home. It wasn’t like being a kid where you got off in the summers. He slid out into the kitchen in his socks and underwear. The first thing he did was crank the radio on the windowsill. We’re an American Band! It was a small kitchen arranged in a square with square tiles and a square wooden table.
Dan jumped up on the chair and worked his air guitar, “We’re an American Band! We’re an American Band!”
He was flailing with his whole body and jumping on purpose to have a hard landing, where his feet would really connect with the seat. “We’re comin’ to your town! We’ll help you party it down!”
He flung himself back for the guitar solo and slammed the outer edge of the window frame. Ouf! The radio went sailing out the open window with the screaming solo fading down into the alleyway. Dan scrambled up from the squares on the floor that his face was smushed into and thrust his head out after the radio. He could still hear the muffled music. It made him open his mouth wide and laugh to shake his whole brown head. Dan kept the beat as he went out to retrieve the radio.