7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29
My early boyhood in Gravel Ridge was untainted and innocent. Most of
my days were spent playing with the neighborhood gang, reading my
Highlights magazine or the Family Bible Encyclopedia, and tromping
through the woods behind my house. My family was big on camping and
nature. Peaceful, happy times. No cares, no worries.
Then my friend Mark introduced me to KISS.
KISS was at first only a concept, a band he told me about that I
couldn’t fathom. They breathed fire? Nuh-uh. Spit blood, wore huge
boots and dressed like demonic cats? What? Then he showed me the album
cover for “KISS Alive II.” When he spun it on the turntable, the tale
became all too real.
“KISS Alive II” fired my 9-year-old imagination like nothing
before. As I inspected the gatefold cover of the double-live album, I
left Gravel Ridge and became a resident of Detroit Rock City. I was in
the crowd. I could feel the pyrotechnic heat. Christine Sixteen was by
my side, whispering in my ear and calling me Dr. Love. Before the first
side ended, I not only joined the KISS Army, I was the guy volunteering
to storm the barricades (with my Love Gun), take that hill and win this
war by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country. Many,
many hours were spent in my room Shouting It Out Loud (into my
Frankly, it was a love affair. I had a secret, one-sided love
affair with four heavily made-up strangers. It was before I discovered
girls. Like the other kids my age, I coveted the action figures and
watched the incredible made-for-TV movie “KISS Meets the Phantom of the
Park.” I was smitten.
And then I betrayed them. For a girl.
I began dating a girl who was religious. Very religious. So
religious, in fact, that she warned me that my album collection was
equivalent to flirting with hell. This went on for hours. Days. Weeks.
Exhibit A in my Road to Damnation was the KISS albums. After I heard
this “you’re going to hell” about 9,000 times, I cracked. I took my
albums and destroyed them in a fit of religious fervor (fueled also by
my desire to remain in girlfriend’s warm, soft graces). I’m not proud
of it, but I rejected KISS for kisses. The girlfriend didn’t last, but
my guilt did.
I’ve regretted the betrayal for 25 years. Like a sore tooth, it’s
been nagging at me. I need to properly atone for this sin. Frankly, I
need a shot at redemption. This KISS concert is my chance to, in my own
way, make things right. I foresee a night of ditching the hairbrush
microphone and singing aloud, full-throated, to the Gods of Thunder
from my youth. It’s really the only way to balance out my KISS Karma.
I went AWOL from the KISS Army, for the love of a girl, and it’s now time to turn myself in.