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David Thornton on No Voice, No Choice

Needless to say, if ‘The Voice’ and ‘The Derby’ hadn’t fallen on vacation time, and clear of our son Declyn’s sports conflicts, we would not have been going. (It’s like that old Marilyn Monroe quote, “Fame, I know it well, but that’s not where I live.”)  After 20 years of marriage, and my own career, I’ve learned what glamorous ideas we have about ‘this lifestyle’ don’t always match up with the reality of the life itself. For example, flying off to be with Cyn when she is working can be an endless waiting game for phoners with journalists to get wrapped up, stylist meetings to get wrapped up, hair, make-up, photo shoots to get wrapped up, meetings, sound checks to get wrapped up and…you get the picture. So one has to weigh very carefully the pros and cons of such journeys, because traveling out to see Mom doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to really see her. After all, we’re not fans, we’re family.

But then this is what we do, and there-in lies the rub of what we have to balance. Sometimes the means don’t justify the ends, and sometimes they do. My own sense of kids is that they don’t want to see their parents naked, and they don’t want to see them at work. They just want them to go to work and come home, like ghosts ships laden down with ‘the bacon.’ That being said, ‘The Voice’ was like a blur. We were in L.A. for two days, a blink, and then we were gone. It was almost like we dreamt it, just too short. But the Derby was another story. Putting aside the nightmarish fiasco of getting there (fourteen hours, after Delta canceled, and canceled, and canceled. We finally ended up flying out of Atlanta on a private jet which was very cool, but not so cool when you arrive at three in the morning, and have to perform the same day.) Getting past that though, the Derby lived up to its billing and fame. It was an incredible party. We had a workable chunk of time too, to get out and see things (like the Mohammed Ali museum) and experience local culinary delights (fried green tomatoes), and plenty of good humor from the folks in Louisville (can’t print here, but damn funny). It’s as great a time as Mardis Gras in New Orleans, or festival in Rio, and completely one-of-a-kind.

I loved it all. From watching Dec feed peppermints to the most beautiful and perfectly groomed animals in the world (if only my kid’s room could be half as clean as those stables!), to being awed by their physical power and athleticism come race time, to the colors and fashions, and hats of the Derby event itself, to my novice testings of the myriad bourbons engulfing me…it was a bucket list memory for sure. It was also satisfying, being a parent voyeur, watching Dec and Cyn do the red carpet together. Declyn was very protective of his mom, respectful and at once able to be himself. I would have been terrified at that age, but he is very much at ease in the limelight. And they really did have time to share between the cracks of the harried get-up-and-go schedules.

Would do it again in a heartbeat, even with all the traffic and Cyn’s ‘vocal malfunction’ which is now You Tube lore. Many thanks Kentucky, for your warmest hospitality!

In the end, we realize how lucky we are as a family to see some very amazing things up close, and in a very personal kind of way. To that end, we are aware of our good fortune, and also of my need to now go lose five pounds.