I went to see an amazing band called Little Green Cars play the other night at a small venue in Atlanta. My friend E turned me on to them and I’ve been listening to their CD (I had to stop myself from typing ‘album’)* for the last few months so I was super psyched to see them live. As Ad Man is out of town, I had to get a babysitter so I could join E and his wife M for the show. The three of us are very compatible and often have lovely dates together. You’d think we all met on eHarmony.
Let me explain first that M is not known for her punctuality. On top of this, I was coming from one side of town, E was coming from work and M was coming from the other side of town. So, we decided to meet at the show, M taking Marta, Atlanta’s train line, and E picking her up at the station on his way. As is common with such fail-safe plans, wires got crossed and it turned out that I arrived at the venue long before my friends did.
I waited outside for a while, trying to look engrossed in my cell phone while sizing up the crowd milling about before a different show next door. I generally feel like I can hang with the hipsters despite my advanced age. I have the requisite thick-rimmed glasses, skinny jeans and visible tattoos. In this instance though, I had far too few tattoos and my clothes were too recently washed so I felt conspicuous and decided to go inside to grab a beer and wait for my friends.
I should point out that this act alone required great courage on my part as I tend to have a smidge of social anxiety disorder. (My official diagnosis is a smidge of social anxiety, a sprinkling of OCD and a large dollop of depression.) While, I have mastered my fears of eating at a restaurant alone and going to a movie alone, sitting at a bar alone still makes my palms sweat a bit so I generally avoid it at all costs. Luckily, though the space was small, there were a few tables. So I bought myself a Guinness (Little Green Cars are Irish, so it seemed only fitting) and sat down at one. From there, I could hunker down, get engrossed in the many entertaining tidbits on my phone and check out the crowd.
Except, there really wasn’t a crowd yet. In fact, in hindsight, I’m pretty sure I walked in the door with a few members of the opening band. In my youth, heading out at midnight to go to a bar or a party was not unheard of. These days, if I have a babysitter, I am out of the door the moment she arrives so I don’t have to deal with the dinner/bath/bedtime drama. I mean, that’s what I’m paying for, right? If I’d known I was going to be early and so very alone, I would have stopped to browse at the closest book store or something.
But, alas, I had lots of time for reflection which, in my case, is never a good thing. I started looking around and determined that I was likely the oldest one there. (It’s kind of hard to tell how old the guys are these days since they’re all sporting long, burly beards…which I find adorable, but still a bit confusing.) I did conclude without a doubt though, that I was the only one there carrying a big-ass mom purse.
For a moment I wished I’d stuffed my More magazine in there instead of leaving it in the car. The thought of being spotted by some young hipster reading “Dress 10 Pounds Thinner: We Target Your Wiggly Bits” was simply too much to bear, however. At the moment, my particular wiggly bits were being corralled by the spandex in my skinny jeans and I didn’t want to out myself.
The room began to fill up and I gleefully spotted another woman, who appeared about my age, carrying a voluminous Louis Vuitton bag which I imagined was as stuffed with Lego figures, band-aids and other kid detritus as mine. My comfort was quickly shattered, however, when her teenaged daughter yelled, “MOM!” from across the room. I should mention that this was an all-ages show, so there were (literal) children in attendance who were years younger than my own babysitter. I even had to wear a wristband (for which I was carded) to indicate that I was of legal drinking age. Seriously?! Granted the lighting was low, but there is an obvious canyon bisecting the forehead space above my finely-lined eyes. It’s hard to miss.
LV woman and her daughter were shortly joined by her son and very gray-haired husband and and I thought, “Oh how nice. They’re a family that enjoys going out to watch indie rock bands together. You just don’t see that enough these days.”
I was considering how lame I would look doing a crossword puzzle on my phone when E and M arrived and I quickly forgot that they’d abandoned me to the harsh judgment of a room full of 20-somethings. Anyway, soon the opening band started playing and it quickly became clear that LV woman and her family were only there to support her son who was now up on stage playing a guitar. Ah, yes…I should have known. Generally, the “elderly” people in the audience at rock shows are only there to cheer on their children. Ugh. The daughter proceeded to text nonstop through the entire performance.
After the underwhelming opening band (bless their hearts) finished their set, Little Green Cars took the stage and my mind was completely blown! They were even better live than on their CD*. In fact, they were one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. It didn’t even bother me that, as the entire band is made up of 20 year-olds, I could easily have given birth to any one of them, no scandalous teenage pregnancy necessary. I probably shouldn’t point out that M and I both found the male lead singer quite attractive despite the fact that he’s not even old enough to legally drink in the US, but really, when have I shown any shame before?
The evening turned out to be wildly fun and I was happy that I’d dragged myself out on a Tuesday instead of succumbing to the siren song of my pajamas and the couch at 8 pm as usual. It wasn’t until the next day that it dawned on me that all my anxiety was for naught. The young hipsters probably didn’t even register that I was there. Doesn’t the act of turning 40 render one invisible to under-30-year-old eyeballs? My experience thus far points to yes. I’ve found the transition from “hey, check out the hottie” to “wow, she’s a cool mom” to be the most awkward and uncomfortable change I’ve weathered since puberty. But in the light of day, I also realized the only one judging me for my age (at least overtly) is me and I’d better get the fuck over it or I’m going to miss a lot of great bands over the next 40 years.
* While proofreading this post for me, my friend A said it was cute that I stopped myself from typing “album” when “CD” is now a pretty archaic term as well. So I stabbed her and buried her body somewhere in the space between our two backyards.