Kids have rituals.
And kids have a place, unlike other places. It's not your bedroom...not exactly. It's set apart, maybe a hidden fort, maybe a place in the woods, maybe it's the tent in the backyard on a warm summer night. It's where the big plans are made, and the things that only kids should know of, are spoken. It's a different kind of place.
It's the Inner Sanctum.
It's King Tut's Tomb.
It's the Bat Cave.
At least that's how it feels when you're a kid.
For Aaron and I, that place was The Drum Room -- which was part Holy of Holies, part trophy room, part clubhouse, part discotheque.
It acquired this name in the eighth grade, when Aaron received his drums, and placed them in the tiny little room. We were a little short on imagination when it came to naming things -- remember, our clubhouse was called The Hut. In the years since, I've thought that it should have had a cooler name, like The Inner Sanctum, or the Oracle, or The Place That Smelled Like A Dorm Room, but it was just The Drum Room.
The Drum Room was deep in the bowels of Aaron's house. You had to go through at least three doors to get there. It existed before the drum set, but then it was just known as The Odd Little Room In The Basement Where Crap Was Stored And There Were Giant Speakers And A Reel To Reel Tape Machine On The Wall.
That doesn't roll off the tongue like The Drum Room.
I don't really know why Aaron's dad built the room, but, if you know Talmage, quirkiness is not really out of character...
It was roughly twelve feet square -- though, to tell the truth, for as much of my life as I spent in that room, I'm still not sure what it's actual shape was...like a rounded off square...? -- and it was, mostly (sort of, almost) sound proof. It was sound muffling. The ceiling was about six and a half high, and it was entirely possible that if you spastically jumped up, while filming a semi-perveted video in the ninth grade, you would smack your head on the ceiling.
I have this information on good authority.
The Drum Room had two very important features. First of all, it was just big enough to fit a drum set, and still have a little room to move around. And, secondly, there were two giant speakers on the north wall. Good speakers. Loud speakers.
These speakers were initially connected to a reel to reel tape machine, which no one could remember how to use, since the technology died out when the giant asteroid destroyed the dinosaurs. Later on it was connected to a cassette tape player (this is also a relic of another time...) and, later still, to a CD player. This made learning to drum that much cooler, when you could blast Van Halen, or Bon Jovi, or Motley Crue or Rush even louder than the drums. It made Aaron the envy of all other drummers.
The silver Pearl drum set was the centerpiece of the room -- it was literally in the center of the room, and our lives, our thoughts, our adventures and exploits were born, and revolved around the beat of those drums. Rarely were we in there, that someone wasn't pounding away; it was like the Wailing Wall -- the drums focused our attention. But, in a lot of ways, the drums themselves were an afterthought.
In fact, they could easily be removed for it's other major function -- a very intimate dance floor. Giant speakers can be used for two basic purposes -- to blast rock music so hard that you can feel it eroding your eardrums, or to pump slow dance music, that ricochets off the close walls, and swirls all around you...and the girl lucky enough to be brought into the Inner Sanctum.
The Drum Room had one other key feature: a dimmer switch on the lights...
It was a room of many moods. It could be a rock concert. It could be a nightclub. It could almost be a dark and starry night.
Cumulatively, Aaron and I probably spent as much time in that tiny little room as we did in any other room, in either of our houses. The combination of noise, distance, and I imagine teenage boy smell, kept all but the most hearty at a safe distance.
We once played a game of Monopoly in there, that lasted for two weeks. We ran out of money, and had to rob other board games. When Christmas vacation was over, the game was declared and draw, and we reluctantly put it away. That was the richest I've ever been in my life.
The Drum Room was too small to sleep in comfortably, although we tried once...this was during our neo-hippie phase, and we thought it would be cool to burn some incense. Two full packs. At the same time. With the door closed.
If you've ever wondered if incense can get you high, I can tell you this: it can get you pretty close.
That cured us of our neo-hippie phase.
And on the walls, we recorded hung the souvenirs of our life's adventures. A broken paddle, from the canoe trip down the Snake River. A Budweiser mirror that Aaron won at Lagoon. A picture of the Coors Light Silver Bullet airplane (that's a lot of beer, for two non-drinking teenage boys). Pictures of bikes and sports cars. Comics from Mad Magazine. Our sixth grade class picture. Bands we idolized. Pictures we drew. A samurai sword in one corner of the room. An electric guitar, that no one knew how to play, in the other. Ill gotten booty -- a giant pink pin that was swiped from the front desk of the Skyline High School office, and lights expertly obtained from certain rides at Lagoon -- back when they kept lights within reach on the attractions. Blue fuzzy dice hung from the ceiling. It was sensory overload.
Some nights we'd just lay in The Drum Room, on the floor, with the music on, a stare at years of memories plastered on the walls, and talk about the past and the future. We'd talk about girls. We'd talk about school. We'd talk about girls...
Like so many other things from our time in Sandy, The Drum Room faded into the dreamlike past, and we moved on. Almost imperceptibly the pictures began to come down. The stories ceased to be told. No more loud music. No more dancing. No more dim lights. No more incense. The room isn't even part of that house anymore. And it shouldn't be; each generation -- each child -- needs to find a special place, and make it their own.
The Drum Room held our stories, and no one else's. And they live on in the time capsule of memories of Aaron and I, and the few we let in to the Sanctum Sanctorum.