Brian Transeau grew up next door to me.
Who’s Brian Transeau?
Right. I wouldn’t know that either if he didn’t live next door. From his Wikipedia page: Better known by his stage name BT, Transeau is an American music producer, composer, technologist, audio technician, multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter. He was a pioneer in the formation of Trance music.
I don’t listen to Trance. At least not intentionally. I’m more of a rock guy. Alt-rock, punk rock, classic rock. Not Trance. But it’s around—hovering at the fringes of my life waiting to be heard. Movie soundtracks, commercials, TV shows. BT is also a producer. His list of artists includes Madonna, Britney Spears, Sting, and Peter Gabriel. I’m guessing at some point I’ve heard Brian’s music or at least his influence.
So, here’s this kid. Nine years younger than me. When I was getting out of college, he was only twelve years old. I doubt I ever gave him much more than a nod. But he’s my claim to fame. The person in my life who made it. The one who achieved international stardom. And I doubt he knows my name.
But he knows my father’s name. Our fathers hated each other.
We lived on a prototypical seventies suburban street in Rockville, Maryland. The houses were unnecessarily large and cheaply constructed. Quarter-acre cookie-cutter plots of land with house designs that repeated every fourth lot. You could go to your friend’s house down the block and hang out in the mirror image of your own house.
Any uniqueness of home styles came from the exterior material. My house had aluminum siding—mint green. There was a large black eagle above the front door. When I was in high school, someone stole the eagle. A brazen move. Our porch was easily visible from the street—completely unobstructed. As our house aged, the mint color washed out closer to something more like off-white. The Transeaus’ house was brick.
The day the Transeaus moved in, a contractor showed up and built a six-foot stockade fence around their backyard. Prior to that, our neighborhood backyards resembled a park. A large open field that kids would traverse to get to their friends’ houses. Now, were we forced to navigate our way around the fence. From day one, the Transeaus separated themselves from their neighbors.
Their other major transgression was ownership of a miniature schnauzer. A dog that barked incessantly anytime someone was in our backyard. In a neighborhood of eight to ten families with kids within three years of each other. The Transeaus, for years, were a childless couple. Further proof that they didn’t fit in.
When we moved in, my parents planted a weeping-willow ten-feet from the property line between our houses. As a kid, the tree was a cute little hangout for my friends and me on a hot summer day. But by the time I left for college, it was a monster encroaching well over the Transeaus’ yard.
To his credit, Lee Transeau notified my father that the tree service was coming. It was probably the first time they spoke in years. He wanted my father to know that the overhanging branches would be removed (as was legally acceptable). My father freaked. A good-natured, civil, mid-level government executive with no moral, ethical or legal smears on his record whatsoever, told Transeau that if he “touched our willow” my dad would “break his fucking arm.”
I’m not certain this story is true. I heard it from my older brother, who had already graduated from college and moved back home. It seems completely outside my father’s personality and vocabulary. But the bad-blood between them had been building for a decade and I guess I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true.
Memory is a funny thing. This morning I woke up to the writing prompt “Trance” and this story is what popped out. I wish I could talk with BT. I’m sure he’s a perfectly nice guy, and I’d be interested to hear his childhood memories of the older family of boys who lived next door to him.