The Smoking Specter of Manhood


Life in Northern Massachusetts was always quiet and laid back. Times were different back in the early 1980’s. Life was simpler to say the least. It was an average night in the Arsenault house, Dad was watching some cop show, Mom was enthralled in one of her romance novels and my brother and I were reenacting a great battle of some long-forgotten war with our GI Joe’s. Dad was one of those “o-o-h” and “a-a-h” type of tv spectators. There must have been a particularly wild scene flashing on the screen as Dad was heatedly screaming, “What are you stupid? The guy is behind the dumpster!” All the hullabaloo caught my brother’s attention and soon I was conquering rebel forces without proper ground support.

 

Seeing that the entire family was now engrossed in matters that offered me no entertainment value what so ever, I decided to slip away and headed out to the garage. Dad kept an old 8-trac player along with a plethora of classic rock music stashed away in his office. As I walked in I noticed some new tapes haphazardly piled in an old wooden milkcrate. Dad must have picked them up at the flea market earlier that day. I rummaged through the box and noticed a bright pink tape. “Led Zeppelin 2” was scribbled on the top as the label had obviously worn off from over use. “Never heard of them,” I said out loud as I popped in the tape.

 

With a thundering crash, the opening riff of “Whole Lotta Love” echoed through the garage. Quickly I turned down the volume as not to get caught. Dad was a stickler about his vintage music. If he found out I was touching his stuff I surely would have paid the piper. I remembered that time Lewy caught hell after touching some of Dad’s stuff. He was playing with Dad’s new Zebco and broke off the tip. He couldn’t sit down for two days after that incident.

 





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