In My Ohio

On William Elliot Whitmore As Prenatal Care

Darren C. Demaree
Around three years ago I went to The Basement to see one of my favorites, William Elliot Whitmore, live for the first time. I was to interview the Iowan before the show, and because I had to be down there so early, the only photographer I could roust up was my very pregnant wife, Emily.

She was willing to sit along the sidewall and wait for me while I went backstage to ask W.E.W. some questions. Over a couple of Pabst tallboy cans we chatted a bit about the Mississippi River, about the house he was working on adding indoor plumbing too, about his family’s land in Iowa, and about how all of that made for some pretty incredible fodder for his songs. That aside he makes during shows about the levee in his hometown, and the citizens saving the bar first? Apparently true.

We talked literature for a minute, and before I got up he asked me about my family. I let him know that my photographer for the night was my wife, and that she was pregnant with our first child. He congratulated me, shook my hand, and then proceeded to play an incredible set.

Before he was finished playing though, Emily tugged on my t-shirt, and inquired if it was okay for us to leave early, because her feet were angry, she was tired of having to piss so many times in The Basement toilets, and unless I wanted to simply surrender my beer she might just have to pour it on my head. I acquiesced, as all expectant fathers learn to do, and tossed my open can in the trash.

I gave a wave to W.E.W. as we headed for the door, and yelled for him to get home safe from the tour. The man stopped the show, and announced to the crowd that I was leaving early because my wife was pregnant and that I should “make sure to rub some oil on that belly” when we got home. A nice moment for sure, a colorful tenderness from a traveling musician, who from my talks with him knows how important family can become if you nurture it.

So, a few months later, little Isabelle Jean was born, and let me tell you she has been incredible ever since. Beautiful, smart, sweet, she yells “Go Tribe!” and will either shake your hand if you’re making a deal or high five you if is time to celebrate. She’s the best of what I imagined a child could be.

I’m not quite sure how we got so lucky, but as a very routine-oriented man who is superstitious to a fault, when I found out Emily was pregnant for the second time I began making sure we took the same precautions with her pre-natal care that we had the first time. Regular checkups, the vitamins, talking to the belly, playing music, and when the time comes the lotion will be put on the expanse that is the landmark of pregnancy.

One more step had to be taken. W.E.W. is a great musician, but why add him to the beginning stages of my second child? Because if you listen to him talk, or even just his songs, you know he acknowledges good and evil. You know he’s seen floods, and done his damnedest to ensure his land and town were as safe as possible. Even if part of it is just showmanship, then you know that voice must stir up both gods and devils, and that could add some colors to the rumination of the fetus.

Whichever justification you believe in most, this past week I took Emily to The Bluestone to catch W.E.W. open up for Lucero. We had a great time again, and though I didn’t speak to the man this time, I made sure the belly was facing him in the crowd. We still don’t know if this next one is a boy or a girl, but you can be sure that I believe if it’s a boy his beard will grow strong with his shoulders. A girl? If she’s anything like Belle, she will be pretty damn perfect.

Anyway, give it a try if you or your lady is pregnant the next time W.E.W. comes to town. I will not be having enough children to make this sampling valid for any medical journals, so as Ohioans, we must work together to see if this Iowan bard is the key to strengthening our familial lines.