Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Word About Concerts

I am no stranger to concerts. And I'm not talking about my own exceedingly well-spent youth, which was much more likely to involve Bach than the B-52s. The wildest I got in my teens was seeing Kenny Loggins perform. No, my concert education has come at the hands of my two teenage sons, and it has been most eclectic.

In the last two years, I've been to bands I've never heard of in places where I was afraid to touch anything and among people whose gender I couldn't always determine. I've propped myself against walls and entertained myself with a plethora of unusual sights and sounds and even (mostly) enjoyed myself. I like live performances, whatever the genre. They have an energy and excitement that's contagious whether it's Miley Cyrus (okay, that concert wasn't with my boys, but with their younger sister) or U2 (and that concert was for me and my husband--but you get the picture.)

I've never experienced anything like last night.

My second son (13) is a classic rock and roll kid. ACDC, Iron Maiden, Kiss . . . you get the picture. Probably better than I do, lifelong geek that I am. For his birthday, I bought two tickets to see Def Leppard at an outdoor venue about an hour from our house. I did this knowing full well that my husband would be out of town on the day and it would fall to me to attend. No problem, I thought. I'm getting to be a veteran.

But apparently not enough of a veteran. I don't know what the difference was. The outdoor venue, maybe? Although I've enjoyed concerts in a cramped indoor space that had toxic toilets merely from standing fifty feet away and smelling them, I'd never before joined 13,000 people on a lawn. It was nice, actually, especially during the two opening bands (Cheap Trick and Poison--and I must say Brett Michaels is a name and a voice I know from my teens) because the sunlight was enough for me to read a good deal of the time.

But as darkness came on and people began cramming around the blankets on the lawn, things got a little cozy. One guy had to keep positioning himself between his wife and me so that she wouldn't dance backwards into me.

Abd by the time darkness came, people had also been drinking for quite a while. Don't get me wrong--unless you're my child, I'm not going to dispute your over-age right to drink. Have at it. But do you really have to have at it to the point that you're slapping a stranger's butt because she's not dancing the way you want her to?

Seriously. Butt slapped. Twice. By the same person, actually, but not in a row. It was like a half hour apart and it's not like she was hanging around me the whole time. Yes, that's right, it was a she. My husband can breath easy now. But let me tell you, she slapped hard.

It was also a woman (the erratic dancing woman mentioned above) who grabbed my chin in her hand at one point and commanded, "Cheer up!"

I was perfectly cheerful. I could see my son ten feet in front of me, dancing and loving his night (and his mother), plus I was working out some knotty character problems in my novel rewrite. Why wouldn't I be cheerful?

But (and this is for you, Chris) to be completely honest, there was a man involved in this odd night. I was standing up, moving a little to Def Leppard but not, you know, shaking anything too hard (that's a dangerous proposition at my age) when suddenly a guy is facing me. A twenty-something goodlooking guy, but that's neither here nor there. He apparently felt my movement was some sort of invitation, but his movements were a lot more, hmmmmm, flexible than mine. In the pelvic region. And I'm standing there trying to ignore him and thinking what horrors my teenagers would feel if they could see this. And also, let's be truthful, just the tiniest bit flattered that he would bother.

But not flattered enough to join him in his more intensive dancing. I shook my head in a universal gesture of "Not interested" and that's when he offered me a beer. Or, to be precise, he offered me one of the two half-empty cups of beer he had (one in each hand--and yet he didn't spill them while he danced. Impressive.) At which point I decided my honor was on the line. Head shaking hadn't done it, so it was time for direct and to the point.

"Go away," I said. And he did, but after a last, somewhat mournful glance, as though he was genuinely sorry not to dance with me. It might have touched my heart if I thought there was any chance he would remember it in the morning.

After that, there was more butt-slapping and a stare-down with a guy who thought I was too serious and all in all a bunch of people who seemed to think I was way too uptight and it was their job to loosen me up.

But, just like cheerful, I was perfectly loose. Enjoying myself even, in my own way. I don't know what it was about me that screamed, "Old lady who doesn't know how to have fun and we must teach her." Why did they even care? Personally, I don't see much fun in drinking until you fall over or dropping cigarette butts onto other people's blankets or shaking what you've got at every stranger in the vicinity, but you didn't see me running around knocking beer out of people's mouths and shoving books into their hands so they could have fun.

Ah, well. As a sidenote, it was a great place to boost my opinion of myself in terms of just about everything--health habits, diet choices, fashion, skin care, hair care, general hygiene, those sort of things.

In fact, at one point I considered what Tim Gunn, my favorite gentleman and fashion expert, would say if he were there. He has been known to emit shrieks of horror at denim jumpers, after all. Regretfully, I concluded that I couldn't wish him there because, honestly, it would have killed him dead.

Now tell me that I didn't have fun :)

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