I was never a huge concert-goer. But, when I did go, it was exciting. It was something about the girls in the crowd. The dark; the intermittent lights. Brushing up against strangers that couldn’t hear you speak or breathe. The booze. The built-in common interest. There was romance to it.
I am currently sitting in the food/lounge area of the Summit Theater. It is an “all ages” show. Headlining is Say Anything… The tweeners rest their faces in their X’d-off hands (no drinking for them), waiting for the main act. They are past a point where caffeine has any effect. Those old enough to drink, but not wise enough to know their limit, stare at the nearby menu on the wall. They stare dizzy, standing ill-footed and yawning, holding back their own puke.
I am here, sitting alone, sipping a poorly mixed vodka gimlet, checking my iPhone for the winning Mega Millions numbers. It is 10pm. I have already yawned twice. I may be the oldest person here.
Say Anything… takes the stage. The crowd knows every word to every song. The energy is real. Somewhere out there is me, 15 years ago, pretending to know the words, waiting for the single to be played. I am awkward, looking at the way the stage lights catch the cheeks of that girl not 20-feet away; and her giant boyfriend who doesn’t know a word, or doesn’t care to sing along, checks his phone for time and texts as she jumps and sings, looking too good for him.
The music is loud, but could be louder (I can still hear myself sneeze, and the mutter of nearby conversations). The tweeners look lost and silly. A hipster version of Barton Fink goes outside for a smoke. A girl with sparkly eye-shadow, arms folded, apparently going for misery chic, follows her skinny boyfriend outside. She pleads to know what is wrong. He rolls his eyes and walks away, leaving her crying on the sidewalk. A boy talks about how he’s ruined people’s lives, due to how his band so drastically changed the Denver Hardcore Scene. A girl staggers by, and grips my arm for support. A pretty girl diverts her eyes as I walk by (her boyfriend in the leather jacket has told her to stay put). A few young girls make what appears to be identical desperate phone calls to the same friends, with extreme urgency, (OMG where are you?! So-and-so just had a beer and is, like, totally wasted. Fer real. I don’t even know what to do!) Barton Fink exhales.
There is a time when life isn't real enough, because it is years before careers, rent, car payments and starting to understand yourself. Drama needs to be injected. Like witches casting charm spells, teenage girls wield drama deftly, with masterful ease. Everything – from a friend who has been in the bathroom too long, to a hair being out of place, to the guy with the giant holes in his ears giving a subtle nod – swings easily from unparalleled delight to utter travesty. I suppose it is a way to feel important, to gain notice. Meanwhile boys seek out masculinity and power in control over young girls that just want to feel pretty and loved. They don’t understand each other, and probably don’t understand themselves all that much, save when they feel lonely or not attractive enough. All they have are instincts and urges, fears, and ever-changing wants.
It’s the same old play, with the same players. It’s a show that’s more exciting for those performing, than for those looking back -- though many my own age have not seemed to notice the curtain call. But, most of us have left the play behind us. We know all the lines, and all the cues, and have exhausted the material for all its worth. All we can do now is chuckle at how the hair and wardrobe has changed over the years and check our lottery tickets.