I Married a Head Banger

She’s a wheel in state government, trusted by Fortune 500 CEO’s, has the ear of the Governor, mentor to an entire generation of young people who span the globe. Important people return her calls.

The Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States calls her “Jax.” Her name adorns a plaque affixed to Hale Library on the campus of Kansas State University and is scrawled on the wall at Aggie Lou, the greasiest of Aggieville watering holes loved by generations for its lowbrow smarm.

You know how every now and then you meet people who just kinda get things done? That’s Jackie. By every meaningful measure, the woman commands respect.

This much is mostly known and easily found in the public record. 

But here’s a little-known fact about my wife.

When she hears the unmistakable, thick, massive sounds of heavy metal, a spark comes to her eye and her head begins to bob. Almost imperceptibly at first. She reaches over, cranks up the volume, amplified distortion washes over her and she is…

…rocked like a hurricane.


It’s 1988 and she’s fresh out of high school. That summer, Jackie and her childhood best friend, Michelle, rubbed shoulders, stone washed jeans and big hair with 70,000 of their closest head banging friends at the Monsters of Rock concert at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.

Jackie & Michelle ca. 1988

Van Halen, Scorpions, Dokken, Metallica and Kingdom Come.

So you think my singin's' out of time. Well, it makes me money. And I don't know why.

Yes, friends, pour some sugar on me. I married a head banger.

To be fair, when these songs come on and she zones into hell’s bells, Jackie doesn’t actually, literally bang her head on the wall. But over the years, I have been witness to closed eyes, vigorous head nodding, singing, yelling, and lip syncing.

Bret Michaels and Jon Bon Jovi play their part, Jackie and 40-something women from coast to coast play their game. Drumming expensive manicures on steering wheels and banging professionally coiffed heads on car windows while Armageddon it on the daily commute.

I'm always workin', slavin' every day. Gotta get a break from that same ol', same ol'.

Is it merely coincidence that heavy metals were taken from the Earth just a zinc ingot’s throw from where my wife grew up in Crawford County, Kansas?

Maybe it’s in the groundwater. Or in the libations served in the Frontenac bars.

Or maybe we’re all head bangers in our own way. If I’ve learned anything as I draw near the precipice of middle age, it’s how much of what surrounded us in the formative years defines us today.  

Our life-defining music is a comfort fused into our DNA during that time when everything mattered so much. It will stay with us forever. Our crime is time and it’s 18 and life to go.

Some of us are welcomed to the jungle and it’s a warm, safe place where as a child we’d hide. My generation is stayin' alive trying to understand the

New York Times’

effect on man. Still.

My wife is a child of the ‘80s. 

She’s the best sizer-up of people and their motivation I’ve ever encountered and does not suffer fools or posers. Once bitten, twice shy (babe.)

The fact that she’s at once a respected human being and a

metal head a

re not disparate  components. They help define her.  

Hot shoe burnin' down the avenue.

Model citizen, zero discipline.