Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Dance

This past Friday I went to see Fountains of Wayne at the Double Door. I'd told friends about the show but had no takers, so I went by myself. Kevin was working a baseball game at Sox field, and we arranged to meet for a bite after the show.

The show was old out, and I was pleased to see that many of the audience members were around my age. FoW has been around awhile, so that's not surprising, and I was happy to be surrounded by what I saw as like-minded peers. Although as always it was couples, since most people my age seem incapable of traveling in any herd smaller than two.

The opening act was a young woman with with an aggressive vibrato who wailed about Feelings. After she left, I found a spot a little closer to the stage. A woman stood beside me. Two men walked by, and paused in front of us.

OK, a word here about being five feet tall. Being five feet tall means that when it comes to concerts, clubs, movie theaters, parades -- you get the idea--  being around other people always involves dealing with idiots who think you paid good money to look at their shoulder blades. It means that when I sit in a theater, some tall asshole always plops down in front of me despite other seats being available. It means I have to stand on the foot rail and pull myself up by the edge of the bar top if I want to be seen by a bartender. I means if I want to see a band as well as hear them, I have to get to venues early to get a spot at the front, which means I have seen more shitty warmup bands than I care to mention, all while drinking nothing so that I don't have to use the restroom and lose my stakeout.

And after all this, there is always some loser who just steps in front of me as though I were invisible. And that's when I get all Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. I get all, "What, you think I'm funny? I amuse you? I'm like a clown?" And then I start jabbing kidneys, and glaring and "Hey! I'm standing RIGHT HERE!"

And yeah, yeah, I'm 48 and single and have no kids and short and if I come across as belligerent, it's because I've been marginalized by the media, am unrepresented in pop culture, and am so freaking tired of struggling to find friends who aren't in a hurry to be boring, and one guy - ONE MATURE UNMARRIED GUY who finds me interesting and not scary, but DAMMIT, I WILL AT LEAST SEE THE GODDAMN BAND.

So it was with surprised elation that as I prepared to give the two guys all kinds of bitchery, I heard the woman next to me call out, "OK, Guys, let's keep it moving!"

"Yeah," I chimed in. "Move it along!" And they did. The woman and I smiled at one another.

"What about that opening act?" I asked. "I felt like I was looking at a freshman English major singing about her sad life."

"OH MY GOD," said the woman,. "NO kidding! I wanted to say, 'Here honey, here's the Patsy Cline songbook. Study.'"

"Go sing your sad songs in Branson," said another women, who was with the first. "Oh my God, was that really mean?"

"Yes," said another, drunk, woman near us. "But it's so true."

We all nodded in agreement.

The band came on. If you're unfamiliar with Fountains of Wayne, they are a pure pop powerhouse. For someone like me, it's an adrenaline rush that turns the dance button all the way ON. There wasn't much room around me, but I managed to dance my ass off nonetheless -- I can be very kinetic in small spaces. I danced and jumped and sang along.

And then I noticed that I was the only one. I looked around at all the married couples standing politely. The women who clearly came for their husbands (because God forbid anyone's spouse do anything that  verifies that they are an actual separate person). Two women in the couples to my left were actually having a conversation during the show.

As the show went on, I screamed and whooped and danced as they played one favorite song after another. And I saw the looks the women gave me. Disapproving?  And the surreptitious, smiling looks their husbands gave me. Wistful? Mocking? Who cares.

As I danced, deliriously happy, it occurred to me that this was a perfect metaphor for my dissatisfaction: I'm always dancing alone, especially in Chicago.

I met Kevin afterward, and he was wearing on his neck a temporary tattoo I'd gotten him for fun.

"It was given to me by a cool friend of mine," he said. I made as if to kiss it, and he jerked away.

Dancing alone. Can't even be playful without people weirding out.

I don't even know what the point of this post is. I'm frustrated. I'm antsy. I'm ready for a change before my coping skills make me as mediocre as everything around me. This is not the life I want. I want to find people who understand that the secret to being happy is to take risks, that taking a chance and disliking something is more of a victory than avoiding risk and the possibility of surprise. Most of all, I don't want to stop being that kind of person, and I worry that I will be if I don't do something big soon.


Seeking Elevation said...

Come to Hong Kong. I'll take you dancing.

karen said...


Whew. In my own way, I know what you are talking about. I may or may not be feeling that pull myself. I seriously think their only exist so many of us, those who don't need to, don't want to travel in packs of more than one, who want to dance when the music is good, and cry when the theatre is that awesome.

I think you shoulda grabbed that Kevin and kissed him but good as shock therapy, that's what I think.

JC said...

Ladies, I love you both. Lisa, I owe you an email.

Yeah, part of me does know (suspect?) that I'll always feel that sense of separateness. I mind that less than seeing how many people just don't grab that energy and go with it. How many people play it safe, which to me is playing it the most dangerous of all.

Kevin is 6-4, so my ability to force anything on him is dubious. :-) I made my move before The Great Misunderstanding; it was awkward. I simultaneously would love to get that boy naked and to find some really sweet, awkward 30-year-old geek girl to talk DS9 with him all night. Me, my fantasy is a 40-something with salt-and-pepper hair who can rock a pair of broken-in jeans.

Maybe what I want is just to dance when I want and sing when I want and not have to go to a job I hate every day where I realize that in discussions about the upcoming NATO summit and protests, I'm the only one identifying with the protesters.

Life is too short to spend it at a desk. I've been strategizing. I've got some ideas. More as they develop.