Growing old sneaks up on you. One day you are in Vegas dancing on the table in a g-string…the next day you find yourself cleaning your toliets while wearing cotton panties from Walgreens. Life is funny that way, and if you aren’t careful, you can be caught off guard.
Almost 5 months ago, my husband came home and said "Hey Baby, I got the best present for you!" “What is it?" I asked, secretly hoping it was the new bedspread from Pottery Barn I had been coveting. He said, “Babe, I got us USHER tickets for this summer!” Usher? Really? Wow…who knew??? I have always liked Usher, loved a few of his songs, and thought he was pretty cute…but the truth is I am not really the concert going type. Growing up, I watched as my brother toured the country following Phish, The Grateful Dead, and String Cheese. I, on the other hand, only attended two concerts as a kid…one was Milli Vanilli and the other was MC Hammer. Once you have seen talent like that, anything else is bound to be a let down.
From the start, I knew we were in over our heads. As I watched my husband carefully place our portable drink cooler into our 3 year old’s car seat, I knew we had made a mistake. I couldn’t remember, do people tailgate at concerts or not? The fact that we were driving to an Usher concert in a gold colored Toyota Sienna with tinted windows made me uncomfortable. We were white, we were in a minivan, and we were going to Usher on a school night. It was risky, out of character, and in general, a bad idea…but we had something to prove and nothing was going to stop us.
As we got into the car, I literally fought the urge to jump out, run inside, and climb into bed for a four-hour HGTV marathon. Instead, I did what I do best, I filled the air with meaningless conversation and brilliant rationalization.
Me: “This is so great, it is going to be Awesome!”
Me: “I love Usher, we should have made a CD to play in the car. It’s so nice to be together. This is so great, it is going to be Awesome!”
Me: “I can’t wait to see where our seats are…concerts are fun…this is wild, we really are fun. I am SO not tired. This is great.”
I was so happy to see he was just as excited as I was…
On the ride to the concert, we talked and tried to reconnect. Earlier in the day we had found out that a tornado watch was issued in my mother-in-law’s town. So, for most of the ride to Usher, my husband was on the phone with his mom…who was currently holed up in her basement in Boston. She was hiding under some piece of furniture with no electricity and doing her best to stay calm. I kept hearing him say things like “Yes Mom, I wish you had an emergency kit also…Of course drinking water in the basement would have been smart…Do you hear anything that sounds like a train coming?” If that conversation doesn’t get you in the mood for a night out on the town, what does? (she was safe...thank goodness).
As we pulled into the parking lot, while listening to NPR, we did our best to fit in. We pulled out our cocktails and tried to relax. We drank our drinks out of plastic reusable bottles, because not only were we a cool couple, we are also friends of the enviroment. After I chugged an entire bottle of Skinny Margarita (Bethany Frankel…genius!) we headed in to the concert.
We missed the opening act and got to our seats around 9:30pm. When Usher came on, he was lifted to the top of the Staples Center on some type of floating device. As he stood there with his arms wide open, he would intermittently make the sound, “EWWWHHHHHH!” as the crowd went wild. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to enjoy it because I couldn't stop worrying about Usher's safety. “HONEY, DO YOU THINK HE IS SAFE UP THERE? IT IS SO HIGH!" Finally my husband looked over at me and said, “Please stop…you have problems.”
Eventually the concert began and everyone was on their feet...for a really long time. Finally we sat down, but the couple in front of us did not. They were younger, cooler, and having way more fun. As I watched in horror, my husband reached forward and said “Excuse me, can you guys please sit down?” From that point on, I was certain we were going to get stabbed in the parking lot.
For the rest of the concert, we said things like “GOSH IT IS SO LOUD IN HERE!”, “I DON’T KNOW THIS SONG?”, “WHAT TIME IS IT?” “MY CONTACT HAS DRIED OUT FROM ALL THE MARAJUNA SMOKE!”. At one point, Usher invited a young woman from the audience to come on stage with him. He had her lay down on a lounge chair and pretended to have sex with her while singing in her ear. Although my husband was smiling for the first time all night, I was resisting the urge to run down there and tell her, “He is using you! It’s all an act. Go to college, get a degree, don’t let this define your life!”
The following night, while wearing my cotton panties and reading my kindle as my husband watched Meet the Press, we smiled and realized...this is about as cool as we get.
Getting older is never easy...