Late yesterday afternoon, we drove north for an hour or so into rural Iowa, over rolling hills and past grazing cows, sheep, and horses. Then we drove a couple of miles more on a dirt and gravel road until we got to the parking lot, which was a large feedlot full of cowpies. Then we sat in a wagon pulled by a 25 year old John Deere tractor along another dirt road, until we got to the barn that was hosting the final night of Daytrotter’s fourth Barnstormer tour. There were bonfires going in old truck tire rims and dogs running around coolers full of beer. There were craggy old couples in beach chairs, motorheads who spent the day at the nearby Torque Fest, college kids, and at least a few toddlers, one of which was mine. Our friends came along and brought their two young kids, and my kid and their eldest played frisbee while the adults drank tall boy cans of Great River 483 Pale Ale. We found out that two our friends are having a kid in about 7 months and they were beaming with joy and we drank to their health. We ate hot dogs. Some bands played and my 2 year old son danced and tried to get really close to the stage. Some more bands played and the kids ran around and pet some puppies and we drank more beer. It got dark. When the women and children left early, they accidentally drove the car directly into a mud pit. Well, it wasn’t so much a mud pit as a cow piss and shit pit, right next to the watering trough. So me and the other dad had to push the car through the shit pit, ankle deep and sloshing about, helped by a stranger, flies swarming and “mud” flying everywhere. After our families finally drove off, we walked back to the barn cursing and laughing, my sneakers ruined and squeeking with wretched filth. When we walked up to our buddies to tell our tale, we were rewarded with pieces of our friend’s birthday cake. Yellow cake with chocolate chips and chocolate icing. We had two beers left and cracked them open. We watched another band and then another. Out of beer, we had no choice but to pilfer a couple of Coor’s Lights from a random cooler. We drank them as we rode the tractor back to parking lot. We pissed into the mud pit and got in the car. We were one in a line of cars kicking up dust past midnight on that dark dirt road and we listened to songs about the summer and the beach and girlfriend problems and we talked about how great it is to be a dad. We thought about stopping for one more but didn’t. When I got home at 1:30 AM, I kicked off my shit-encrusted jeans and brushed my teeth and checked in on my son and climbed under the covers and gave my wife a kiss and fell asleep.
It was perfect.