I got the kids ready, made sure they were showered, teeth brushed, hair done. I made sure to pick out their outfits so they looked decent for the family function. Then I planned the appropriate time for me to get showered, shaved, powdered, lotioned, hair done, make up on, and the allotted time to frantically ravish my closet because I have nothing nice to wear, ever! The husband was done hours ago, and was patiently waiting for us to finish up. That’s when it happened. We were wrapped up, ready to go, and not a minute too early. I open the door to shoo the children to the car and turn to ask if the husband was ready. That is when I heard it, the strum of the acoustic. Oh no, I had him wait too long, he has slipped into…. THE POCKET!!!
Band wives around the world understand the pain. The pain of their significant others focus, their one-track mind. We will beg, plead and eye roll with every one of their requests to just play “one more song”. The Husband claims these will be his last, dying words, “Just one more song, Babe, and then we can go.” Poetic, really. I can brow beat him all I want, he isn’t going anywhere. Even our children understand this, my son will dramatically say, “uh-oh, mom, is Dad in… the pocket?!” (dun-dun-dun-dun). Yes, I have dealt with this for many, many years and there really is no solid how-to on pulling a loved one out of the pocket. urbandictionary.com defines being “in the pocket” as, “A complimentary reference describing a live musical performance, akin to an athlete being in “the zone””. Which is cool, let them detach themselves from the world and get lost, it’s what they do best. Though, when we are running late as it is, or trying to watch a movie, have a serious conversation, or we are trying, ourselves, to decompress from the loud, busy day, the strumming, singing, shredding can get a little overwhelming. To the point where you may fantasize about using that damned wooden box as batting practice to bust some knee caps and break some fingers. Hey, band wives are still only human. So, before you go all Godfather on that guitar, we need to avoid the pocket from ruining our day.
Prevention is key, my rookie mistake in the above scenario is that I let him get bored. He was waiting on the kids and me to get ready and that is when a musician becomes most vulnerable to the pocket. Keep them busy during this time, give them lists, chores, keep them occupied, they love this. If you nag long enough at them to do the dishes or vacuum while you are getting ready they will thank you in the long run, or have them go build you that book shelf you’ve always wanted. Idol hands, people, idol hands. This will keep them busy enough to avoid the pocket. If bossing him around doesn’t work, you could always invite them into the shower. This always seems to work for me, but you will have to adjust your schedule and give yourself a few more minutes because he might, well, err, become a distraction and get you off… track. It’s the sacrifice you will have to make to keep the pocket at bay.
If you find your husband has fallen into the pocket you must approach with caution. Pulling him out with force could be catastrophic. I have heard of musicians that have fallen into comas after trauma shock of being forced out of the pocket. It could end up fatal. You need to approach slowly, I like to start with gentle eye contact. Once you have locked their eyes, keep your facial features pleasant, you don’t want the musician to feel threatened in any way, they could revolt in this case and it could have opposite effects. Once you have gained their trust in knowing you will not attack, wait until a quieter part in their song. Do not try to interrupt them during a solo! I repeat: if you try break a solo, you could be breaking your own knee caps, but they won’t use their precious acoustic for that. Your best opportunity to interrupt is always as the song ends, but there is a very small window because a new song is already being planned (or a repeat of the last, depends on how well they executed it). At this time, using a soft, non -threatening voice, you need to say what needs to be said. Make it important, make sure it’s going to peek his interest, and keep it short so he doesn’t get distracted. Now that you have his attention you need to slowly coax him out of the pocket very carefully, keep the gentle eye contact and your voice calm and pleasant. One wrong move could send him reeling back in to a face-melting, two-hour solo. Once you have his instrument down, make a bee line straight to the door, this last part is very important even one small detour, like going for your purse could pull his focus in the other direction and you will have lost him. Once you have him securely in the car you should be ready to go. I cannot promise he will be happy about this transition but he will be ready to go.
It is important and vital to allow your musician to go into the pocket, always encourage it at appropriate times and only use the tools given to pull one out in emergency situations. ONLY when it is vital and necessary. If you notice a loved one slipping into the pocket, and time allows it, just keep an eye on them, throw them a sandwich and some water (you don’t want them getting dehydrated), sit back, and enjoy the serenading. You can even allow yourself to be pulled in there with them and pretend they might be playing for you, because even if it doesn’t always seem like it, you are important to them.