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Rock and romance

(Reprinted with permission from SHADY Ave Magazine.)

When I’m not writing humor, I spend my time chatting with celebrities and sharing their stories. So heading off on a ’70s theme “Rock and Romance” cruise seemed like the perfect way to combine business with pleasure while fulfilling a teenage dream of hanging out with rock stars. But like everything else, the devil is always in the details…

Forty years ago, my idea of prepping for a rock star moment would have involved a search for the perfect lip gloss and mini dress. This time I was pondering more complex questions like, Can I lose 20 pounds in two weeks? How fast can I bleach my teeth without causing them to fall out? And can you brush off a hot flash moment by blaming it on the Mexican sunshine?

But in addition to my own extreme makeover, I had another fish to fry before setting sail. Unlike my life in the ’70s, I would have a date onboard, and he would need more than a life jacket to stay afloat in the sea of rock. I’m not complaining about my husband, because no one’s perfect and he’s pretty great. But throwing a guy who has never played air guitar onto a ship full of Grammy Award-winning rockers seemed like a recipe for disaster, especially when his suitcase was stuffed to capacity with khakis, striped polo shirts and a beloved fanny pack. Talk about man overboard. I was between rock and a hard place.

“Thank goodness there will be ’70s theme dress-up nights,” my friend reminded me, hopeful that donning bell bottoms or a leisure suit would level the playing field for my non-rocker.

Of course that would be a tricky tradeoff, given that any purchase of retro thrift store garments would reinforce his long-held belief that he should never have caved to my demands to toss the original polyester items in the first place.

Wardrobe aside, my partner of 29 years has never been in the music zone. He’s mistaken Elton John for Billy Joel. His karaoke rendition of “My Way” has been making everyone go the other way since 1980-something. His taste in music is more elevator than rock, and the only thing he’s ever smuggled into a concert is a set of ear plugs.

I took a deep breath and found comfort in the facts that my husband was game for the adventure and I had a humor column deadline. Surely there are going to be some laughs when a Barry Manilow fan gets on an elevator with Peter Frampton.

But then it happened — great music, magical memories, rock and romance. Wonderful flashbacks from the past have a way of making everyone embrace the moment and celebrate their lives. So how on earth did two musical opposites end up in the same boat? Because I get to pick all of the tunes and he is absolutely fine with that. It took a boatload of music icons to remind me that the easy-going, Docker-wearing guy in the corner was my real rock star.

Did my husband generate any chuckles when he rubbed elbows with rock legends? Were my oversized sunglasses enough to hide the lines from a life well-lived? Actually, we fit right in. Growing older has a way of putting everyone on the same stage of hits and misses, and when you’re lucky, chart-topping success. The best part of life is having something to sing about, even if you can’t hit the high notes.

In case you’re wondering, older rockers look a lot like older non-rockers, but without the khakis. And thanks to midlife, I can honestly say I was totally hot when I hung out with them.

— Dr. Nancy Berk

Nancy Berk, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, humorist and entertainment columnist for Parade Magazine’s Her next bucket list item involves tambourine lessons and a Fleetwood Mac reunion tour.

Reflections of Erma