A couple weeks ago, I was called out for my blind allegiance to Bruce Springsteen. It was noted that Mister Springsteen was selling his book at Costco, which didn't seem like a big deal to me. I suggested that Costco was actually a whole lot more egalitarian than WalMart, and since seven years ago The Boss already admitted that deal was a mistake, I had a hard time accepting this as a flaw in his character. His otherwise sterling and remarkable character.
That's when the conversation turned to Botox. The man is sixty-seven years old. Why can't he just age gracefully? I started to defend Bruce, asserting that at this ripe old age he continues to play four hour shows without an intermission and that maybe this was how he kept himself young. And wrinkle free. He's in show business, so of course he maintains a certain amount of vanity. He's a rock star. Looks count.
Then, I stopped. I'm a huge fan. I know the songs by heart. Reading Springsteen's recently released biography, I have found myself nodding more in confirmation than gasping in revelation. I know the story by heart. I know the town of Freehold, New Jersey and recognize characters like "Mad Dog" Lopez as part of the legend. Part of the gospel according to Bruce.
Saint Bruce? Well, I like to think that I don't get swallowed up in pop culture adoration without any real substance or style to back it up. I want to believe that I don't make excuses for the man's faults and foibles with a blind eye. He's been divorced. He did make that deal with WalMart. He's made comments and written songs that have gotten him in trouble with folks who find themselves on the right side of that workingman's vision of the world. He called Donald Tarumpapumpum an idiot. He maintains a solidly blue collar persona with a bank account that suggests otherwise.
The opportunities for hypocrisy are enormous.
And yet, I cling to this ideal of a man that I have never met. I hold him up as a role model, not just for myself, but others. Is that right? I don't have a lot of patience for others when they worship their idols without reservation. There's always a dark side, some chink in the armor. What makes me think that Bruce Springsteen is above such human frailty?
Maybe because he isn't. Or maybe I'm just deluded. It's a good kind of delusion, though. The kind that will rock and roll all night long.