“Jimmy, I have some bad news.”
“What’s the bad news, Dad?”
“It pertains to your dick infatuation.”
“You mean, Dick’s, Dad?”
“Get in the car, Jimmy. Now.”
A wave of anticipation is swelling throughout the Phish community. Everyone wants Dick’s. A search on Twitter for the hash tag #PhishLovesDicks reveals just how deep this wave is penetrating. And while it’s a thrill for some, it’s certainly disconcerting for others.
“Where are we going, Dad?” Jimmy’s dad remembers distinctly the first time he read “Goddamn, I love Dick’s!” on Jimmy’s iPhone. “A text message popped up on his phone. But I couldn’t see the rest of the conversation. I didn’t know what to do. He has one of those passcode things on his phone. I tried every 4 digit combination I could think of. His birthday. The last four of his Social (Security Number). The last four of his phone number. Nothing. Then I tried 0830. A number I had seen scrawled on a post-it note from one his pockets that I found while doing his laundry. It worked.”
0830, or as Jimmy’s Dad would later come to find, 08/30, is the date that Jimmy was heading to Denver for Dick’s. Dick’s, a three-day affair that has helped conclude the last two summer tours for Phish, and would do so again this year, has been turned into a hotbed of celebration and “great jams” for Phish fans from all over the country.
“It’s disgusting, really. They webcast the whole thing. You can watch it on your iPhone. Just like porn! No, it’s a bunch of dicks. It is porn! Sickening.”
Jimmy would soon realize he wasn’t going to make it to Dick’s. He was headed to Lake Elmo, Minnesota. To be exact, he was headed to Bachmann & Associates, the infamous pray the gay away clinic run by Marcus Bachmann, husband to failed Republican Presidential candidate, Michelle Bachmann. “Dad, you can’t do this. You don’t understand. I’m not gay!” he pleaded. But Jimmy’s dad explained to me, “It’s sad. I’m sure you know my son. He’s not gay. He can’t be!” The thought of having a gay son seems to distress him to no end. His hands sweating, he takes a sip of lemonade to pause.
He continued, “I heard him say once, ‘I’ve been with a little girl, and this big girl, and maybe another ten girls or something.’ Which, as a dad, I don’t know need to know. But then he said this, ‘Maybe boys.’ What was I supposed to say? He was in a world-famous rock band. He was happy. He was making a name for himself.” Jimmy’s Dad pauses again. He snaps a Kit-Kat bar, furiously shoving it into his mouth and mutters “Maybe boys,” as crumbs fall over his neatly ironed pleated khakis.
It’s a 19-hour drive from Glens Falls, New York to Lake Elmo. Jimmy had a lot of time to think. His dad had taken his iPhone. He was cut off from the only thing he had been focused on for months: Dick’s. This is exactly what his dad wanted. No more dicks. No more of what made Jimmy happy.
They only stopped once on the drive. Somewhere halfway between Erie and Pittsburgh, they found an A&W drive-in. A pretty young girl, about 20, waited on them car-side. Like the old days. When she left after taking their order, Jimmy’s dad inquired, “So, Jimmy. Did you have any sexual gravitation towards her?” “Dad!” Jimmy retorted. “Dude, she’s like 16. Gross.” “This is exactly why you’re going to see Dr. Bachmann! You’ve totally lost touch with your masculine side! If this was 1968, I would’ve gone around back and tossed my milk shake in her onion ring!” “Fuck off, Dad. I’d rather listen to your horseshit conservative radio.”
Jimmy was handed a pamphlet when he walked in to Bachmann & Associates. It read, “What is your identity? When we talk about relationships, we’re really talking about who are we and what is our identity? Are we whole people? Or are we cracked and not sure of who we are?”
Group sessions for distressed parents started. Jimmy’s dad bantered to anyone that would listen that his son, Jimmy, needed help. He was gay and constantly craving dicks. This went on for days. Jimmy, on the other hand, was in a different group therapy session. He didn’t care what people thought. He knew this was the dumbest of misunderstandings perpetuated by those unwilling to accept that the world was changing. He didn’t care if his dad thought he wanted dicks or that his way of loving something was the only way. He knew who he was on the inside and what he loved and that’s what was important to Jimmy.
August 30th came and went. Jimmy missed the classic Friday show at Dick’s. A cook in the kitchen who had been sent to the clinic in the early 90s after his parents heard him proclaiming his love for The Big Ball Jam told him about what he had missed. He soon learned what Mr. Miner had correctly predicted earlier in the year. Phish spelled out “Leave With Us Now” with their setlist, and upon the ending of “Waves”—with layers of loops still emanating from the stage—a space ship descended and beamed the crowd into another reality, leaving Earth behind forever. There was no encore. Dick’s Saturday and Sunday shows didn’t take place.
Jimmy broke down crying. He screamed. He shouted. He punched a wall. Dr. Bachmann thought the demons were finally coming out of his body. “Praise be to Jesus, our Lord and Savior for this sexorcism! Save Jimmy’s soul, Jesus! Save us all!” It was then that all of Jimmy’s fury was aimed at one man, Dr. Marcus Bachmann. He grabbed Bachmann’s periwinkle tie and wrapped it around his neck, choking him, demanding that he swear off the inane practices of praying the gay away.
The bad doctor had no choice. He had to submit to Jimmy’s demands. But before he did, Jimmy’s dad burst through the door and tackled Jimmy. “Jimmy! What the fuck is wrong with you?!”
“She’s gone, Dad! She’s fucking gone!”
“Who’s gone, Jimmy?!”
“Katherine! Kat! My Kat’s gone! The girl I was supposed to fucking meet at Dick’s this year for Phish but instead you were forced me to come to this shithole!”
“You mean, Kat’s a girl? And Dick’s? Dick’s is a concert? Not some gross orgy where people do drugs, have sex, argue about ranking the best jam, and then write essays about the whole thing?!”
“No, Dad! It’s just a good time. That’s it! I don’t need you to tell me about which Dick’s I can enjoy and which I can’t. And which I should love more and which I should toss away. I’m sick of not being able to just enjoy the things I want to enjoy just for the sake of enjoying them. Phish is a good time. Nothing more, nothing less. Or at least it was. It’s gone now. My Kat is gone.”
“I’m sorry, Jimmy. How bout you let your old Dad buy you a goldfish?”
“I don’t want a goldfish.”