Can’t Touch This (or Reflections on Joelfest 2017)

All my life I’ve wanted to be a hashtag. Aside from all those years when such a thing didn’t exist. Even now that it exists I don’t really know what it is. It’s a millennial thing, so I stay away from it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Two Saturdays past was Joelfest 2017. If you don’t know what that is, read the F.A.Q. The Joelfest Selection Committee plans this thing well in advance, and the invitation is sent out January 1, so the people who don’t show up don’t show up because they hate me and not because they have a previous engagement — because no one plans out their June activities in January.

Granted, had I known in December how busy I was going to be the week of June 24, I would have suggested another date. But despite how much crap I had to deal with that week, I still made time for the quinquennial festival of William Joel. Because I care.

I used to care that people didn’t show up for Joelfest, but not anymore. I’m old now and I understand that everyone really hates me, so the mere fact that anyone shows up says something — I’m not sure what. And I can’t hold a grudge if someone decides a last-minute trip to Iceland with the kids is more important than seeing an old friend of 38 years. Right? I can’t hold a grudge about that. Can I?

The week’s festivities began Wednesday with a short trip to Columbia so The Wife could attend a work thing. The Son and I spent most of the time in the hotel pool and hot tub (which were wondrously empty for the most part). We tried to walk the campus but it was hot and muggy and Andrew almost immediately had a meltdown, so we wound up at the mall instead.

I did get to visit a new comic book shop (screw you, Rock Bottom — any comic shop that bags its books before putting them out no longer gets my business) and had pizza at Shakespeare’s and a gyro at G&D, so it was a successful trip overall. We returned home Friday in time for a little cleaning followed by opera. The next morning there was more cleaning, grocery shopping, and general preparations. In some respects it was probably good that we didn’t spend the whole week at home as that would’ve given Laurie too much time to obsess over the cleaning.

First to arrive were longtime Joelfesters Ron and Laura Leigh, all the way in from Florida (which makes everyone who claims “Oh, St. Charles is too far away” look like the sissies they are). They were followed by longtime Joelfester Scott and his wife Kim, the latter of whom was the big winner in this year’s hotly contested 50 Days of Joelfest trivia challenge. Laurie went out to get pizza and when she came back, she had Jay with her.

Now, when Jay Chism dies I will write a long and heartfelt obituary about him, but since I’m likely to go first, I’d better just go ahead and say a few nice things now. I’ve known Jay since, I believe, kindergarten, and he’s one of my oldest and dearest friends. Jay doesn’t say he’s coming to Joelfest and not show up. Jay makes no pretense that he’s coming to Joelfest. He just shows up. Once he showed up in Kansas City (where I was living at the time) instead of Columbia (where the party was actually held). We laugh about it now — it probably wasn’t so funny for him at the time.

So we sat in the back yard and had a nice chat while all the other guests showed up and Laurie played hostess while also dealing with Andrew’s inevitable meltdowns (Joelfest is one of those rare occasions where I’m not the one dealing with the meltdowns). There was Liz and Ann and Gena and Christine & family and Tina & family and Melfy & family and Stevie and Coffin Joe and Paul and Julie and the Leahs.

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A pretty good crowd for a Saturday.

Now, I’m not a big rules guy. When you come into my house, I don’t make you take off your shoes. You’re welcome to put your feet up on my coffee table. You can have anything in the fridge or the pantry. Want to take a nap on the couch? Fine. Leave the seat up when you’re done in the bathroom? I don’t give a damn.

I only ask one thing: Don’t Touch My Stuff.

This really shouldn’t even be a rule. It’s really just common sense, common decency, common courtesy. I don’t come into your house and touch your stuff. I am not an animal or a 2-year-old. I had parents who raised me right. But I realize now that I’m living in Trump’s America, so I have to spell things out. But when I say “don’t touch my stuff,” all I’m really saying is “be a decent human being.”

By midnight things had wound down and Stevie ran off because a young person can only stand so many minutes of 50-somethings talking about dealing with their aging parents. The next morning I hopped onto Facebook to get caught up on yesterday’s events only to discover that not I, but my stuff, had become a hashtag.

#nottouchingroysstuff

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There’s more. So much more. But this is a family blog and some of the things that were done to my stuff is not appropriate for all ages.

This is the world we live in, where “friends” can touch your stuff with abandon and then post photographs of it. Smiling. And while I’ll never be a trending topic on the Internet, at least my stuff will be.

You know who didn’t touch my stuff? Jay. And Jay had every reason to get back at me. And not because of that whole Kansas City/Columbia mix-up. No, many years ago, when we were like, 10, I pushed him off a wagon into the mud and cow manure at Warren Argall’s dairy farm. Why did I do it? I don’t know! I was 10! Kids do stupid things!¬†And yet Jay loves to bring up that story every chance he gets — including Joelfest 2017.

So, thanks Jay, for not touching my stuff.

Or at least being smart enough not to leave behind photographic evidence.

See you in 2022.

 

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