Puzzle shrouded in mystery wrapped in enigma

I got home last night, after a very long meeting at the kids’ school and feeling more than a little stressed out.  Homework, food, lunches, breakfasts, all of that were put on hold for the few hours the meetings at school lasted.  Abbi had practice for her play . . . it’s “hell week” and they are scheduled to rehearse from 4pm to 9pm.  That means, of course, she gets home around 11pm since they never end on time.

We finished at the school around 8:10pm and I knew I was already in for a longer bedtime routine.  You see, with Abbi at practice and the meeting for Hannah, my 13-year-old, the twins had to come with us.  These meetings always have a plethora of candy, cookies, lemonade . . . and Sam is a sugar magnet.
“One glass of lemonade, Sam, that’s all.”
“Okay, Daddy.”

But as I sat at the work table for Hannah’s first project I saw Sam go to the lemonade dispenser 3 times.

“One time.  That’s all you go up to the table to get a treat, Sam. One.  One treat.”
“Okay, Daddy.”

But from same said work table . . . Sam did indeed go to the table once.  He came back with the most colorful fall-like assortment of candy and cookie treats.  He knew that I couldn’t get up . . . I was rooted to the spot.

Understand, where sugar makes most kids hyper, for Sam it’s like you’ve hit Bruce Banner with gamma rays all over again.  One bought cookie and he’s nuts.  A plate full?  I have to peel him off of the ceiling.  He was already walking in circles for no reason other than it made him dizzy.  He was bouncing off the walls.  He couldn’t even focus long enough to play his videogame . . . which is attention deficit incarnate.

So imagine my surprise when I got home, exhausted, thoroughly disgusted with my kids’ behavior (Even Hannah, during instructions for the night was telling jokes and talking back to the teachers – because her friends were there with her) when I spotted a brown tube lying on the front porch.  I picked it up and tried to open the lock – an impossibility because every time I moved Sam moved in front of the light so I could see the lock.  It was like Groucho Marx had walked up behind me and was intent on driving me to the asylum.

Getting inside I assumed it was a simple little thing Abbi had ordered or something.  But it was addressed to me.  No return address other than the company it came from: “Who Merch.”

Opening the tube inside was a reproduction of a concert poster from 1973.  From my favorite Who album, Quadrophenia.

The Quadrophenia Tour Poster
This is the third time in about a year someone mysterious has affected my life so positively.

Now, keep in mind, this isn’t just a gift.  I know, it’s a concert poster, very teenage years kind of thing.  But it’s not the gift itself, it’s the thought process behind it.

Let me go back . . . the gift before this?  A box set of the complete remasters of Derek and the Dominos’ “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.”  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is my favorite album of all time.  Slowhand, Duane Allman, Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gordon, Carl Radle . . . it’s musical perfection with a Persian love story at its center.  How could I not?

But before that?  I received, again anonymously, a deluxe edition of Traffic’s John Barleycorn Must Die.  Other than my brothers, few people knew how much I love this record, and Winwood’s annoyingly amazing talent for lyric, melody and performance.  Anyone could have sent Layla though it was really expensive.  But this?  This was . . . touching.  In the middle of when I needed to be touched.

So tonight . . . when I have so clearly indicated how we’ve transitioned in our lives – after all the emotional pitfalls and my head trying to translate all its feelings – this shows up.

You might see this as a silly little concert poster.  But then you have to look deeper.

While Layla was an emotional tie for me, The Who’s Quadrophenia was terribly easy for me to relate.  The opening salvo going to Pete Townshend’s The Real Me immediately touched a chord with me.
Can you see the real me, can ya’

A simple line, a musical shout, but when you feel like you don’t look at the world the same as others . . . that’s very powerful.  From the misunderstood kid at the beginning to the pleading close of Love Reign O’er Me I connected with Quadrophenia nearly as much as to Layla.  I can easily put on an act for those around me in my day job, or in my sphere of influence.  I have friends, but dear friends – those whom you trust with everything – those are few.  Very few.  My brothers.  I can think of one friend from grade and high school – whom I hold very dear.

None of them sent this.  None of them sent any of the three musical ties to my emotions.

The journalist in me is dying to find out who sent it.  But the transition into this change of seasons – the change in our lives again, this new story . . . has taught me that it’s okay to have a bit of the mystery.  Three anonymously given, heartfelt and well thought gifts . . . someone knows me all too well.  Hannah called it my secret Santa.  I call them my “mysterious benefactor.”

It’s always good, once in awhile, to have a little bit of a puzzle, shrouded in mystery and wrapped in an enigma.


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