Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rock Band in the Basement

My kids have been playing Rock Band in our basement, just outside my office door, and it’s freaking me out and giving me flashbacks.

For those without teenage children, Rock Band is a game played on a Playstation 3 or X Box 360 where actual people play simulated instruments (guitar, base and drums) and really sing into a microphone, trying to sync with the singer and players onscreen, earning percentage points for accuracy. It’s kinda like Karaoke with instruments and competition, plus the fun of dressing your onscreen alter ego in cool outfits or a mullet, as desired.

Rock Band first appeared in our basement a few weeks ago when our sixteen year-old son’s friend bundled it in and set it up for the group of gamers to try out. It was an instant hit, and, after our son and his sister saved up enough money for one, instead of the typical Halo match happening every lunch hour outside my home office (we live one block from the high school), it is a clashing of guitars and growled lyrics.

And weird.

Let’s face it, when we played “Rock Band” back in the day, things were a lot different. Other moms might not feel it as distinctly as I do, but then again, the other moms might not have been “band aides” to the school rock band, befriending first one guitarist and then sleeping with the other (my ambivalence about heterosexuality and his unwillingness to spend his allowance on anything other than drugs making the term “dating” not especially pertinent—did we ever surface from his basement bedroom publicly after he got me there?), and dancing at every gig.

My own experience with playing “Rock Band” at sixteen involved a basement crammed with teenagers, a keg of beer, clove cigarettes, pot, LSD and parties in which leftover couples were having sex on every floor of the house, conveniently left parentless by the single mom of one of the band members.

Not surprisingly, we are always home when the teenage boys are here, teenage girls are not allowed and my nose is so finely tuned I could be a drug-sniffing dog. Poor things don’t stand a chance.

Actually, I’m happy with “Rock Band” compared to Halo 3 and the other shoot ‘em up typical fare of teenage gamers. It’s relatively innocent, encourages musical tendencies, and can be played while our five year-old is in the room unlike any other game we own, barring the Pinata one that still weirds me out because they’re cannibals. Fortunately, there is a door to my office, so when the gang of guys at lunch time strike up the beginning chords of “Won't Get Fooled Again,” and I’m pulled back through a time portal to urban Seattle circa 1980, and memories I shouldn’t share without a complex explanation of why drugs are bad and they shouldn’t experiment with them, they can’t see me smile.

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