No, the Bon Jovi lover is not me. I wasn’t even a fan during their late ’80s heyday. (Although I did manage to make my ultra-fine hair pretty big back then, with help from Sebastian Shaper Plus.)
The Bon Jovi fan is my seven-year-old son.
How did this happen, you ask? Well, in another incitement of my waldorf guilt, in November my two older kids pooled their money to buy Guitar Hero World Tour. And as much as I despise having a gaming system in the house, this game has less to despise. The kids play virtual music. Together. My favorite band incarnation is H on drums, Lulu on guitar and Mr. T on vocals. It wasn’t long before Mr. T was perfecting his own favorite song: Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer.”
It’s pretty funny hearing your seven-year-old traipsing around the house singing, “Oh, oh we’re halfway there, oh oh, livin’ on a prayer…” But not funny enough for my jokester of a husband. He had to intensify the situation. One day in December he took Mr. T out to do a little Christmas shopping. Mid-morning he called from his car.
“I bought him Slippery When Wet.”
“You bought what for who?” I asked.
“You know, Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovi’s big album. For Mr. T. We’re playing it now. He loves it!”
And so he does. He’s loved it over and over and over again. At high volume in his bedroom, jumping on and off his bed. Shouldn’t he be listening to They Might Be Giants or Ralph’s World? Or The Beatles, at the very least?
Of course, if you’ve learned anything about my youngest after reading this blog, you know how much he likes to talk. So for over a month our talk has had Bon Jovi references. Many references. And as I take part in these titillating discussions, I realize that Mr. T is actually learning a few things. Consider:
Music history: We spent the Christmas Eve drive to My Charming Husband’s parents’ house in a full-family discussion of whether Bon Jovi was considered hair metal. Were they better than typical hair metal bands? Weren’t they more in a class with Van Halen? Were they hair metal? (My guitar-playing husband–who never has been a metal fan, I’ll have you know–nevertheless insisted that Bon Jovi was not on a musical par with Van Halen.) So then we had a hair metal shout-out: Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, Night Ranger, Ratt, Motley Crue (sorry, I’m not searching down an umlaut character on Motley Crue’s account). Stryper led to mention of Christian metal; then we had to acknowledge hair metal predecessors glam rock and heavy metal. Next thing we knew, My Charming Husband was talking about German metal, a category I didn’t imagine actually existed and the whole conversation pretty much disintegrated from there. Bring on the Christmas carols!
Current events: Mr. T came home from an evening at my parents’ house and told me that when he asked his Grammy if she liked Bon Jovi, she said yes because Bon Jovi did lots of good work for others. Really, I wondered? Bon Jovi? We quizzed Grammy over Christmas dinner. Turns out she’d mixed up Bon Jovi with Bon-o. (Silly Grammy.) Which led to further discussions of Rockers Who Do Good Work.
Music appreciation: Mr. T loves to nettle the rest of the family by insisting that Bon Jovi is better than The Beatles. At first we tried to give him concrete reasons for why this isn’t so. (Music. Lyrics.) But then we tired of his adamancy and just started nodding our heads sarcastically. Then one evening, during a nightly wrestling match between him and My Charming Husband, Mr. T decided it was a battle between Jon Bon Jovi and John Lennon. When it became clear that neither was winning, Mr. T stood on the couch and insisted that he’d morphed into a new mega-wrestler named Jon Bon Lennon. And then he pummeled his father.
Singing to his Mama that she gives love a bad name.
Etymology: At one point we explained to Mr. T that Jon Bon Jovi’s real name was John Bongiovi, which is Italian. And I told him that bon means “good” in French, and assumedly is a variation of the Italian word for good, buono. “What does giovi mean?” Mr. T wanted to know. “Can you google it?” So we did, and discovered that it’s a conjugated form of the verb giovare, which means “to be useful” or “to be good.” “That’s a lot of goodness,” Mr . T said. “What’s with all the Bon bands?” He was referring to one of my new faves, Bon Iver. So we googled Bon Iver and discovered that the name is a variant of bon hiver, French for “good winter.” (We also discovered some other interesting backstory which included mononucleosis and a Northern Exposure episode.) Fascinating stuff.
Yep, that’s why we homeschool: even mediocre hair metal bands can be learning opportunities. (Although Mr. T has moved on somewhat. Yesterday he was singing a different Guitar Hero song, Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker.” Luckily, I suppose, he wasn’t singing the original lyrics: I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, I’m a midnight toker. No, he was substituting names of the Hindu deities he’s been learning about: I’m a Brahma, I’m a Rama, I’m a Parashurama. I tell you, there’s never a dull moment around here.)