I don’t know precisely why The Mom’s basement became so iconic, but it really was. It was the setting for our misspent youth and where we learned to be ourselves. I suppose it was, in many ways, like a little clubhouse, though I’m not sure what the admission policies were, if there were any at all. I have to say, I wasn’t one of the core group, but by virtue of being related to Crazy D – because let’s face it, it was his band, and so he was the King of the Basement – I basked in the glory and coolness associated with it.
The Mom was well known then, as she remains today, for being pretty cool with whatever bad or weird shit you wanted to do. Her rules were few but if you crossed them you’d have been bahished and that level of ostracization was obviously going to work miracles for teenage rule abiding. No getting knocked up, no getting anyone else knocked up, and no dying. No bail money either.
When you grow up in the suburbs, I suppose what most kids do, and what we certainly did, or maybe it was just me, was dream about all the cool places we could go if only we lived somewhere bigger – somewhere where we could get into trouble easily, or where adventure and mild peril lurked around each and every corner. When we were teenagers and I’d walk home by myself at 3am or thereabouts The Mom would offer a worried look. My reply?
“Seriously. I am the people you mean when you say people roaming the streets at night. And if it’s not me, chances are very good that I know the people to whom you are referring. We’re good. Safety, in check.”
I’m not entirely sure if she believed me, but no harm came to me or my friends so she went with it.
Anyhow, what I was saying was that I’’d always imagined the possibility of living somewhere cooler, which would of course therefore have made me cooler. But as it was, we had the supermarket parking lot, the 7-11, and a couple of basements. And then we had The Mom’s basement, which had no carpeting, no TV, and was therefore all the better. It was wild in that way, and wild places are wonderful in that they can take on a life of their own.
Which I think is what the basement did. In all seriousness, people would let themselves into the house in the middle of the night, unannounced, quietly tuck their boots in the line by the back door and see themselves into the depths of the basement for the night. In the morning, the Mom would just count the pairs of boots – she got to know our friends by their boots.
To be invited into our basement was a priviledge and an honour that I don’t think I quite realised at the time. But now, over 20 years later, when I run into old friends, and they ask about the basement, I wonder if we were part of something like CBGBs or Studio 69. In our own small, suburban way.
I quite like this woman The Mom met at her fancy dinner who was unabashedly delighted to meet the woman behind the basement. And why not? The Mom’s basement was legend, and so should she should be.