We collected our salad bowl and said good-bye to the other parents at the end of year party. The group was lingering over wine and dessert, a bit teary-eyed from the slide show retrospective of the kids and the heartfelt departure speech from their teacher. There were hugs all around. As we walked down the driveway towards the car, the soft murmur of conversation floated after us through the balmy June night.
My husband started the car and I phoned home to check on our son.
Me: We're on our way home.
Him: OK, I'll be ready.
30 minutes later, the three of us were crossing Hollywood Blvd, crawling with a Friday night mix of tourists, black-clad club goers, cops, guys waving light sticks in front of packed parking lots, and a bunch of extra people in leather. My son's eyes were roving everywhere, even as he tried to act nonchalant*. As we walked through the entrance to the Palladium, the din of hundreds of twenty-somethings screaming to be heard over the pulsating soundtrack hit us like a sonic brick.
Judging by the lines at the bar and the exuberance of the throngs around us, the crowd was primed and ready for the show.
As we fought our way through to a relatively unobstructed position, I had an odd sense of deja vu when I found myself clinging desperately to my child's hand so we wouldn't be separated in the mass of strangers**. Finally, just after 10:30 pm, the band took the stage and the place went nuts. I was right there with them. These guys were great!
My son: Jeez, Mom! What are you doing? Are you OK?
Me: I'm dancing! I love this song! Dance with me, honey!
My son: (Moving away from me so fast that he nearly injures himself on a protruding pillar). You have got to be kidding me. Stop. Just stop. Please, I'm begging you. That is so not right.
My husband***: I know it looks strange, but it's pretty dark in here. Just stand over there and ignore it. I'll go get us something to drink.
My son (calling after him in desperation): Dad! Don't leave me alone with her. I think she's singing along now!
I am, indeed, chiming in at the top of my lungs.
Me: (pumping my fist) The FURNITURE...is in the GARAGE!!!"
My husband tactfully decides to take my son to the bathroom. Just as they walk off, I am tapped on the shoulder by a guy behind me.
Him (yelling): HEY! DID YOU BRING YOUR KID HERE?
Me: (beaming with pride and also yelling) YEAH! WE DID! HE'S A BIG LCD FAN!
His buddy: YOU ARE LIKE, MOM OF THE YEAR, DUDE!!!****
We high five and keep bopping around. When my son comes back, they give him two thumbs up and toast him with their suspiciously empty beer bottles. He shrugs*****, accepts a few back slaps and happily starts jumping in time to the music with them.
With my son distracted but probably safe, I pull my husband close and whisper anxiously in his ear.
Me: I think I might be going into menopause.
Me: Here! I've got menopausal symptoms.
Me: MENOPAUSAL SYMPTOMS!
Him: Right now?
Me: Yes. I'm having hot flashes, big time! Just look at me. I am sweating all over! According to what I've read, it's a classic sign.
Just then the guy in front of me lifts up his dark blue t-shirt and begins fanning himself wildly. His girlfriend kindly wrings out the front of his shirt for him while she wipes her own dripping brow with a tiny cocktail napkin. He resumes a crazy form of movement that strongly resembles the Elaine dance from Seinfeld******. He even whips out the old "shooting pretend guns from his hips" move.
My husband: It's not menopause. It's a ROCK CONCERT!
Relieved beyond belief, we roar out the next line of the encore number together. My son throws his hands in the air and joins right in.
The whole family, as one: We are NORTH AMERICAN SCUM! Ah whoo hoo!
* As nonchalant as a newly-minted 14 year old boy can be under the circumstances.
** Just like trips to Disneyland when he was five, these were absurdly happy strangers with light up necklaces. Unlike that crowd, however, these people were openly downing beers and only a few had mouse ears.
*** Who is also dancing, by the way, but apparently in a less mortifying way.
**** He had no idea how spot on he was. I'd spent a good week of my life making that tear-jerker slide show of my daughter's class for the parent party.
***** In preparation for this, his first true rock concert, we had advised him that drunk people in extremely noisy rooms generally respond well to agreeable nodding and shrugging.