Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Adult Listening

When I was a kid, I used to wait in line for hours for tickets to my favorite bands. When the doors opened, I made sure to be in that first crush of fans running for a spot against the stage where I could dance all night, get sweat on by my idols and get my ribs crushed every time the mosh pit surged.

We used to laugh at the adults we’d see at these shows. Sneering in wonder about what awful corporate job they had to get up for in the morning. In the great tradition of teen self absorption, we believed we’d never be like them.

This summer, a friend got us tickets for Gnarls Barkley.

“On the floor? You mean we’ll have to stand? The whole time?”

I am officially getting older – despite that, I’m fighting growing up tooth and nail. Going to see as much music as I can.

I’d been looking forward to the Death Cab For Cutie show for weeks. The set started nice and mellow as expected and the crowd settled into the seats at the lovely Greek Theatre. I marveled as I had for the last few years on how young the crowd was. How do these kids find out about the good stuff? And can they go away?

About halfway through the first set the flirtation going on in front of me between two little hipsters burst into dancing. The guy popped up and started rocking out. To a mellow quiet sit-down song. He beckoned to the girl who, intent on wooing this new potential catch, jumped up and started wiggling incoherently. We grown ups mumbled and grumbled.

I looked around the whole amphitheatre. Not one other person was on their feet. Everyone was enjoying the happy mellowness of Death Cab but these stupid kids. And me, who now wanted to kill them for ruining my show.

The girl looked around at the sour faces of the two rows worth of people whose view they were blocking and flipped us off. “You're all so old!” she screeched. I nearly had to wrap her Hello Kitty backpack around her neck. But I oh-so-adultly sat in silence, leaning in opposite sway to catch glimpses of the stage.

At this point the guy realized he was kind of being a jerk. He turned and gestured to the rest of us old sitters. “Get up! Come on, you guys! Why is no one dancing?”

“Because it’s not that kind of show!” I blurted before I could stop myself. And the floodgates were open. “We paid a lot of money for these tickets. We’ve had long days at work and we really want to sit, relax and enjoy the show. But we can’t thanks to you.”

The girl looked like she was going to climb over the seats at me which I would have actually welcomed because then it would have been self defense and who doesn’t want to pummel a petulant over-indulged teenager?

The boy, who’d obviously been raised by decent people, looked like he was wondering if his would-be date was a good choice after all. She continued to sneer and hurl insults at us while shaking her booty ever more aggressively.

“Please can I punch her? Please?” It was agreed that wouldn’t be a good choice. So my seat neighbors and I sat and seethed. Finally it dawned on me. I am the adult here. I should maybe act like it.

Reasoning with twinkie girl was obviously out of the question so at the next song lull I leaned forward to the guy and said as calmly as I could “Hey I totally get that you are trying to enjoy your favorite band the way that makes you happy and that’s cool. But we’d like to enjoy them our way too and our backs hurt or I’d totally be up there dancing with you. Do you think we could compromise?”

He smiled at me and nodded. We shook on it and for the rest of the concert they traded off sitting for every other song. I felt better and the people around me patted me on the back. The children had been dealt with.

The funny thing is ever since the show, I’ve been unable to listen to Death Cab. I flip to the next song every time a track comes on the iPod shuffle. What the heck? I love this band. It finally hit me, the sound of the songs I love take me right back to that moment of supreme frustration watching that bitchy little girl dance with irreverence like I used to.

Well bless her and send her on her way. I have to plant myself firmly in the realm of being grown up now. She’ll realize soon enough what a pain in the ass she was. And if I ever see her on the street…I’ll tell her to meet me behind the lockers after sixth period so I can kick her ass.

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