I used to try and tell my older brother about the new Jimmy Buffett album I found while flipping through the new releases bin at Rocky Mountain Records and Tapes. This was inevitably a futile gesture, since he had been down there the day before or had talked to a clerk earlier in the week or somehow scooped my big news just by being that much more in the know about all things Buffett. He was, and always will be a Parrothead. My attempts to try and find that piece of news or rare bit of Margaritian lore were almost always met with, "Yeah, I know. I heard about that," followed by the very polite and encouraging, "You got your tickets too, right?" Over the years, I have had a few triumphs whereby I was able to get that souvenir or rumor that was a revelation for him, but I learned not to try and out Parrothead the Chief Parrothead.
You might think that would be an experience from which I would learn. Why then would I choose to try and keep my friend from New Jersey up on all things Bruce and Springsteen related? This is a guy who had a subscription to Backstreets when it was a magazine. I may at one time have held some sort of sway when we lived in the same time zone, but the mere fact that he lives on the right side of the country while I live on the left keeps him three hours ahead of all the breaking news on E Street. I'm a continent away. And, I confess, a couple orders of magnitude away in terms of obsession. In the big book of Springsteen fans, I hardly rate a footnote. I've never been to the Stone Pony, and I am constantly being introduced to side projects and lost singles by the guy I used to be able to surprise, at least some of the time. Access to Al Gore's Internet has been something of a leveler, but I still don't even expect to compete.
For a while, I thought that I could be the eyes and ears of my son when it came to all things Marvel. I spent my youth reading comics starring Captain America, Spider Man, and even the occasional Doctor Strange. When it came time to introduce my progeny to this universe, I was pleased and happy to be able to pull out the crates of vintage issues, the ones I had long since committed to memory. When they started making movies, I felt smug, knowing what lay around the corner for our heroes. Peter's Uncle Ben always dies? Gwen Stacy? Same deal. The lack of surprise for me was made up for by watching my son react to the unfolding legend. Somewhere along the line, my son gained access to Al Gore's Internet as well. Now he follows Stan Lee and the rest of the Merry Marvel Marching Society on Facebook. And Twitter. And all manner of social media that only confuses his old man. If I want to know what is up with those Agents of Shield, I don't ask Al Gore or Tony Stark. I ask my son.