So, okay. As I promised yesterday, here is the back story on the Dierks Bentley Hair Crisis of 2007 (and if you don't know what I'm talking about, then you can either click that link and backtrack a bit or just skip this post and come back and rejoin us here tomorrow). I'm not sure why I've never told you this story before. It must have happened at a time when I wasn't blogging much.
Anyway, the solution to the mystery became clear sometime during the summer 0f 2008. At that time, Bud's communication skills had made some significant advances, allowing him to express more complex thoughts in more complex ways. Perhaps more importantly, he also had an increased desire to be understood - he could discern when I didn't understand what he was trying to say, and he was suddenly both more willing and better able to re-frame and rephrase until he knew that I'd received his message. (Even now, these are still emerging skills for Bud - but they are skills for him nonetheless.)
So it was that one evening during the summer of 2008, Bud asked me, "Remember when Dierks had long hair and he was a mean guy?"
I was stunned, so I started asking questions, and Bud started filling in the blanks.
In order to understand the rest of the story, you need to watch two videos. The first is the video for "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)," which was Dierks' single during the summer of 2007. That summer was a difficult time for our family, and Bud and I found solace - and a vehicle for connecting with each other - in country music. Country music was new to us and as we navigated through some rough waters in our life, it became our rudder - we could listen to it, learn about it, and talk about it together, and in so doing, remind ourselves that no matter what else was going on in our lives, we could always listen and learn and talk with each other. "Free and Easy" became an instant favorite for both of us, and we watched the video together a lot. And when I say "a lot, " I mean A LOT. Because we were new to country music, we were also new to Dierks Bentley, so the guy in this video was the only Dierks Bentley we knew. And he was already achieving hero status for Bud.
What I didn't realize until Bud explained it to me in the summer of 2008, is that the second Dierks Bentley video we watched in the summer of 2007 - and the one you need to watch all the way through right now if you want to understand the rest of the story - was the video for "Long Trip Alone." In Bud's mind, this video featured two people - the repentant, respectful, hard-working, kind-hearted, short-haired Dierks who was a GOOD guy, and the surly, angry, hard-drinking, bar-fighting, long-haired Dierks who was a MEAN guy. The video's story was confusing for Bud, because his linear mind didn't grasp the concept of flashback, but, more importantly, the meaning of the video was lost because he didn't understand the concept of acting. In his mind, after watching that video, it became clear that the short-haired "Free and Easy" Dierks was still a hero, but the long-haired "Long Trip Alone" beer-fighter was to be avoided at all cost.
Imagine his dismay, then, when we started watching other videos and he discovered that the long-haired mean guy sang all the other songs.
As time passed, and as Dierks reached out and showed Bud what a truly nice guy he was, Bud came around to the long hair, but it was really in the spirit of forgiving Dierks his past meanness. Once I understood Bud's confusion, though, I was able to explain to him what music videos are, what acting is, and how Dierks was just pretending to be in a fight. Bud was relieved to know that the men in the bar were really Dierks' friends, that none of it actually happened, and that Dierks is a nice guy no matter how long his hair is.
Bud still catalogues Dierks' music by hair length in the files of his mind - so, "Lot of Leaving Left To Do" is "old curly hair," "Sweet and Wild" is "short hair," "Sideways" is "new curly hair," and, I imagine, if my supposition regarding yesterday's photograph is correct, the bluegrass album Dierks is currently working on will become "new short hair." But it's all good.
It was an amazing feeling when things finally clicked - when Bud was able to explain to me what was bothering him and I was able to reconstruct reality in a way that allayed his fears. But it also made me wonder what other misperceptions and misunderstandings color his view of people, of places, of life? What other imaginary hurdles are standing in his way? And what are the questions I need to ask to get those conversations started?