Last night, I took the plunge and did something I’d never done before, but had contemplated for a while. I wore earplugs at a rock concert. And I loved every minute of it!
I’ve never been very image conscious—“looking cool” has always been way too much effort for me to bother with. For as long as I can remember, I’ve dressed more to blend in than to stand out. However, last night propelled me to a whole new level of not caring. I was fully aware that some people might think I was lame for not wanting my eardrums blasted out, but I was even more certain that I was going to do what I wanted regardless.
The wonderful thing about getting older is that impressing other people begins to matter less and less. Sometime around my mid-twenties, I began to realize that my opinion of myself mattered more than anyone else’s, and my priorities began to shift. Amazingly, I discovered that the less I tried to live by others’ standards, the happier and more confident I became–and the more other people respected me. So this concept of outgrowing ideas about what is and isn’t “cool” isn’t new to me. What is new is flaunting it in a room full of people who are young and unenlightened. And that makes it all the more enjoyable.
Here are the steps on my journey to becoming the #1 Stodgy Lady at an RJD2 concert, and fully embracing the mindset that “sensible” is more fun than “cool”:
- Complain that the headlining act doesn’t start until 11:30. Seriously, 11:30?? That’s my bedtime!
- Time my arrival perfectly to skip most of the headlining acts, while arriving early enough to not have to fight for a good view. M and I were both appalled at the mere thought of standing in a loud, crowded room for 4 hours straight, but also think it’s rude to push your way up to the front. (A decade ago, I would have been in line when the doors opened—I have no time or energy for that now!)
- Fret over the fact that it’s cold outside but hot inside. Decide that the only way to be Sensibly Comfortable is to wear a sweater and light jacket for walking to the venue, and bring a gigantic tote bag to stuff them in when I get to the venue. I realize this wouldn’t work at venues that don’t allow bags, but here they only do a quick search before letting people in. In fact, the security guard didn’t even search my bag! I think he took one look at me and thought, “This lady definitely isn’t cool enough to be smuggling in drugs or alcohol. Next!”
- Be shocked and appalled by the way young people are dressing these days. The woman in front of me in the ticket line was wearing a bra and nothing else on top. Seriously. Maybe she put on her bra, looked in the mirror and said, “Hmmm, should I wear a shirt? No. No shirt today!” All I could think was how cold she must have been on her way over!
- Look around and do a quick calculation. Realize I am probably way over the average age of the audience members. Realize that will probably be true of most rock concerts I attend from now on.
- Find a bench in the back of the venue and sit. Because it’s still early enough that it’s not too crowded, and because standing is for 20-somethings.
- Get inspired. Another older-than-average lady dances up to the bar, looks around, and stashes her coat into a corner near the bench. “So that’s how it’s done!” I whisper yell into M’s ear, admiring the clever woman’s solution to the cold outside/hot inside dilemma as she danced off like a pro.
- Get jealous. Several minutes later, M and I decide to get up and claim a spot with a good view of the stage. The music is pulsing loudly, and during a particularly intense drum solo it got so loud that I actually covered my ears! That’s when I see the man with earplugs. “Ugh, I wish I had ear plugs!” I yell to M. “What?” He yells back. “Never mind.” I pantomime. I seriously consider trying to learn sign language. It’s probably the only practical way to communicate in a place like this!
- Ask the right questions. The crowd starts to fill in, so I go to the bar to get a final round of drinks. (There will be no way of fighting through the crowd when the headliner takes the stage!) I lean over the bar and yell my order to the bar tender. Half-way through, I notice that he, like the genius I noticed before, is wearing earplugs. “Do you have any more earplugs back there?” I ask. He nods and gives me a thumbs-up. I ask for two pairs. He hands me my drinks and the ear plugs. I give him a generous tip. He has made my dream come true!
- Dance, and enjoy the music! With my new earplugs firmly in place, I danced the night away, free from the ear-crushing pain of a sound system turned all the way up to eleven, and free from worries about hearing loss. I was having so much fun that I even got M to dance with me a little, and he does not dance ever!
- Learn my lesson. I may never be the cool young girl at a concert, and I will definitely never be the girl who goes to a concert in her bra… but most importantly, I will never again go to a concert without my earplugs.