When we last left our heroes, they had just fended off a couple glasses of bourbon and a slightly exaggerated attack from a homeless person and found themselves in the historic Chicago Theatre for a YouTube stars show.
I was still operating under my secret agreement with myself not to poop on Elijah’s fun, despite my severe reservations about the YouTube stars. As we settled into our seats, having purchased many candies and a t-shirt, I was struck by the crowd’s enthusiasm. I assumed the attendees would sit slack jawed and dead eyed, which is the proper expression for watching YouTube stars. Dang it, Rick. Stop being a cynic. The kids, and they were 99% kids, were diverse, positive and happily queer-supportive. This was a club I was happy my son was part of.
The curtain rose and the capacity crowd went nuts. Like Beatles on Ed Sullivan nuts. Screaming. Shouting. Whoo-hoo-ing. So much screaming. This, despite a performance by the YouTube stars that was not exactly flawless. At no point in the show did all four YouTube stars’ mics work at the same time. And I like to think if you gave me and my pals $2,000 and an afternoon we could have written a funnier show. Dang it. Sorry. I’m doing it again. Eli loved it and that’s what counts. Plus, I found a few moments to enjoy, mostly around the self-described “gay one,” who was appropriately fantastic.
About halfway through the show, one of the YouTube stars performed a multi-media presentation about being a dad. He then asked if there were any dads in the audience. Not thinking through the possible consequences, I stood up and shouted, “I am a dad!”
Next thing I know Eli and I were being ushered onstage.
I had never been onstage at The Chicago Theater. Nor had I ever been screamed at by thousands of children. As someone with anxiety issues, I don’t recommend it.
We were there to play a game. This game involved three dads dancing for the love of their kids. Dancing. I do not dance. I don’t dance at weddings. I don’t dance at funerals. I don’t dance at YouTube star shows. I briefly considered just walking out of the theater and not stopping until I reached the shores of Evanston. But the look on Eli’s face was, dare I say, pride?
So I danced. I Dabbed. I Flossed. I Robot-ed.
Unfortunately, the…eh…Rubenesque gentleman next to me played to his strength. His size made his dancing hilarious to the crowd. To which I say, not cool, crowd. I could sense my impending loss looming large, like a 280 pound bearded man in a trucker hat. I had to throw a Hail Mary.
I had to do the Worm.
Had I done The Worm since 1987? No, I had not. Did I know the proper technique for The Worm? No, I did not. But there I was, flopping on the filthy Chicago Theatre stage for the enjoyment of absolutely no one. Blood was pumping in my ears so loudly that I didn’t actually hear myself loose to the fat guy.
As the YouTube stars sent us on our painfully long walk back to our seats, Eli held my hand. His expression was still…almost pride? Mixed with a little pity.
For the rest of the night, kids would stop and shout, “You’re the dad!” In line at the bathroom, waiting for a beer to steady my nerves, out on the street. You’re the dad! You’re the dad!
And for a couple minutes I did feel like I was the dad.-->