Sunday, November 12, 2006
Y E A H !

Willem and I went out last night. For eight hours. Without the kids. Just like a real date, with real grown-ups and nice clothes and everything. Except for the weird/funny parts that proved, once again, that we're not as cool as we thought we were. And we never thought we were that cool.

But we're still cooler than you. Especially if you were the size-18 woman in the size-12 see-through sheer tan tank top, the image of which has been burned onto my brain. When your choice of clothing stands out at a Def Leppard concert for its inappropriateness and unsuitability, you know you've reached a higher plane of being.

But I'm jumping ahead of myself. It's just that her outfit was really just that bad.


I got the tickets earlier this week, in what was apparently a bizarre fluke of arena karma, because I got 6th row seats four days before the concert and it was a sold-out show. Next time I'll sit behind a pole next to the sweaty smelly guy who knows every other word, just to balance it out.

I didn't get tickets because I'm a long-standing Def Leppard fan, or even a Journey fan, though I will admit to belting out a few bars of "Wheel in the Sky" upon occasion. I got tickets because Willem's birthday is December 26 and that is, frankly, an annoying time for a birthday to be, giftwise. Plus with his first round of comprehensive exams (The Dreaded Comps) lurking in January, I figured it'd be better for him to have a birthday present now, while he can enjoy it without obsessing over imaginary triangles or whatever it is that really smart mathematicians take tests on. He's not a die-hard fan of either band, but he has seen Def Leppard in concert a few times back in the day, so it was really a nostalgia type gift.

So we got a sitter and got dressed and left our children in the hands of a 17-year-old. Well, hand, actually. She had wrist surgery earlier this week, but she was confident that she could still handle both kids. For eight hours. Alone. Okee-dokee then! If I had had wrist surgery earlier this week, I still wouldn't want to be alone with them, but whatever floats her boat.

On the drive to Manchester, because nobody in their right mind would come within an hour of here to play to a crowd of more than, say, 24 people, Willem and I chatted of cabbages and kings and crazy family members, and then I caused his brain to explode. I had a skein of yarn and knitting needles, and wanted to know how many stitches I should cast on so that I would end up with a square piece of fabric and use up as much of the yarn as possible.

This was a much more difficult problem than I had envisioned, and I had envisioned it as being too hard for my poor little brain. It kept him happily entertained for most of the drive, sitting a few feet to my left muttering numbers and correcting himself. It was kind of sexy, actually. But recall the current state of pregnability around here... I was able to restrain myself.

Plus he was driving at the time, and I'm no Tawny Kitaen.

We ate, we chatted, we did not have to discipline any children. We were able to make snarky comments about our fellow diners without trying to encode them so as to make them child-safe. Such as my description of a couple who were both clear 3's on the attractiveness scale, obviously on their very first date ever, with the gentlemanly half so overwhelmed with lust that the intense hormonal stare never flickered when she made that horrible laugh-nicker noise. And such as Willem's response, when he was finally able to see the couple, who had the poor manners to sit behind him so he couldn't politely ogle them, that, "Well, yeah, she's a 3, but she's a 3 with big boobs."

Up to this point in the evening, I had been experiencing a low-grade discomfort because the black jeans I had picked felt fine while I was standing, but when I sat down the waistline dug directly into my recently-assaulted uterus, and I didn't enjoy that nearly as much as you might think. I finally insisted that I needed replacement pants, pronto. Willem laughed at me. I insisted. He caved.

So we found a Burlington Coat Factory, and I said that if I couldn't find something with five minutes of entering the store, I wouldn't bother. Willem laughed at me. I insisted. He waited in the car.

I was back in that car eight minutes later, and it would have been sooner than that if the brain trust charged with running the store on Saturday nights had seen fit to open more than one register at a time.

So there.

And, for those of you who think about such things, instead of finding another pair of uncomfortable jeans, I bought a black skirt with sparklies on it, and to compensate for the unshavedness of my legs I found some black thigh highs (because tights are too darn hard to put on in the car - trust me, I was in marching band, I know my limits). Changed in the front seat of the minivan. Seriously, how cool am I??

So, the concert. At the Shinedown/Godsmack/Rob Zombie concert, I sat near a boy who was young enough not to be at all self-conscious about his rock-on-ed-ness. This time, I sat near a boy just enough older to have the obligatory 15-year-old hunched-shoulders and hate-the-world glower but who was not above air-guitaring to anything and everything. During a break, he was able to break his angst long enough to tell me that, way back in eighth grade, he won an air guitar contest to "When the Lights Go Down in the City," for which I was suitably impressed.

Journey opened, and proved that they're really very smart. The show started with a guitar solo, of the "Star Spangled Banner." So right from the start they had the whole crowd on its patriotically obligatory feet, and most of us stayed obediently vertical for the next several songs. I think they've done this performing thing before.

They have a new singer, who looks to be about 25 to the rest of the band's 50something, both in energy and fashion sense, all of which adds together to create a vaguely American Idol feel. But the singer sounds enough like Steve Perry to placate me, so I thought it was a fine show.

They actually proved several times that they're really very smart. Before they played "When the Lights Go Down in the City," (to which, by the way, my angstful neighbor did, indeed, rock out) the singer put on a Manchester Police Department t-shirt and dedicated the song to Michael Briggs (go ahead, read that announcement and try not to think about "those poor boys," I dare you). Very touching and got the crowd's attention. Likewise later, when he wore a Manchester Monarchs jersey for a few songs and somehow, by a feat of physics unknowable by mere mortals, did not simply melt into a steaming puddle under the stage lights while wearing it. And again later with a Patriots jersey. The band knew their audience, good for them. We've already done some shopping today to reward them.

And, I'll admit it, I bought a Journey t-shirt.

Then there was Def Leppard, a band so far out of its prime that it's not even in its golden years anymore. We're talking Bonze Age now. But the thing is, they respect and understand that about themselves - this is a bunch of 50something guys playing for an appreciative crowd and enjoying themselves, not a bunch of 50something guys hoping that no one will notice that they're not 20 anymore. They played well, a good set list so that even those of us who've never owned a Def Leppard album could still sing along at least most of the time. The post title is a reference to their latest album. Def Leppard is still coming out with albums. Who knew?

Unless you're the wildly overenthusiastic blonde in the tank top and cowboy hat (who does deserve a personal shout-out for being able to carry the outfit she had chosen; far too many in that audience were not hampered by thoughts of flatteringness when selecting attire for the evening), who could sing along the WHOLE time, while dancing with a beer bottle and waving her arms and generally really FEELING the BAND - a would-be roadie with seats too far back and tickets 20 years too late. She knew.

So, a good night. Much fun. Good music. Yippee!

And, a note to those terrorists who might be thinking of targeting a slightly aged, oddly dressed group of very white rednecks mulletheads Americans, chances are good that the Journey/Def Leppard show will soon be in an arena near you.