Jeff Benedict: Revisiting summer of '88 and Springsteen's 'Tunnel of Love'

Published: Monday, Aug. 13 2012 9:00 a.m. MDT

He walks off while the band plays Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World." That's great cinema. It's also true. Life is unjustly fast. This summer I'm trying to slow it down — going to work late, coming home early, staying up late with my kids and even later with Lydia.

In July we headed to the Jersey shore for a week at the beach. We did it on a whim. Our friends — Rob and Gwen Wallace — opened their home. We have kids the same ages. Our families camped at the beach, riding waves on boogie boards, eating cold watermelon and building castles. It reminded me of my childhood.

I got to thinking about my oldest son, Tennyson. He turned 16 last week. He'll be a college freshman in September. Lydia and I are proud, but sad. Our first-born is growing up. Sorry, I don't like that.

Toward the end of our week at the Jersey shore, Tennyson and I took a boat to lower Manhattan. It was a Friday evening and most people on board were headed to Yankee Stadium to see Roger Waters. But we were off to see "Wicked." It was sold out and we didn't have tickets. No matter. We waited in the will-call line for an hour and ended up with orchestra seats 10 minutes before the curtain went up.

I've seen "Wicked" numerous times. But no previous show was as much fun as seeing it with my teenage son. These are the years when parents and kids tend to disconnect. Sorry, I don't like that either.

We cheered wildly as Elphaba defied gravity to close Act I. We cheered even louder after she sung "I'm Not That Girl."

Hands touch, eyes meet

Sudden silence, sudden heat

Hearts leap in a giddy whirl

He could be that boy

But I'm not that girl.

It's great having a boy who prefers the theater to a football stadium. It was past midnight when we bought pizza on the waterfront before catching the last boat back to Jersey. Warm summer air whipped against our faces on the top deck as we went down the East River. It was so late that it was early. Yet I was exhilarated. I was with my 16-year-old son and we were happy.

August is here now. My wife is sitting next to me on a beach chair. She's wearing a bathing suit and a white sun hat. I think I'll pull up "Tunnel of Love" on my iPhone and stare. I've got time. It's summer.

Jeff Benedict is a contributor for Sports Illustrated and a writer for SI.com. He is the author of "POISONED: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat."

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