17 November 2011

I Hate My Generation

In the giant time suck that is life with a child (or children), it’s quite easy for two people to forget that they were once childless, that they had an entire existence as a couple, that they were two people in a romantic relationship, who were routinely well-rested, properly groomed, and—let’s admit it—fun to be around.

You often read about the importance of “date nights” for old, boring, married couples who spend most of their waking hours entertaining the whims and catering to the demands of a miniature human being. People often think they’ll escape this fate. That won’t be us, they’ll say. We won’t forget. Our kid will fit into our life, we won’t reshape ours entirely around him.

Yeah. Good luck with that.

The wife and I have, sadly, fallen headfirst into this trap as much as anyone else. Parent ends up becoming such an all-encompassing, all-consuming role, that you forget there are other facets to your personality, other facets to your relationship with your spouse. And so you resort to the tactic of date nights. The occasional night off from parenthood, to remind yourselves that you’re still relatively youthful and fun and spontaneous and capable of having a good time. And so it was that last Friday night the Doozer was packed off to one set of grandparents for the evening, so the boy’s mother and I could stay out past 8:30 and partake of a social ritual that we had not experienced for quite a long time: a rock show.

That’s right, we were hipsters again for a night. Or at least, trying to be. We started our adventure with dinner, at long last a grown-up meal with adult beverages, no chicken fingers on the menu, no dangerously teetering booster seats, no crayons on the table. It was a tapas place (just typing that out makes me feel more like an adult than I have in forever) and we reveled in our goat cheese this and calamari that. The restaurant, a place called Small Plates, is a great part of the growing downtown dining scene in Detroit.

And not a child in sight. Although, inevitably, the conversation did eventually (and by eventually, I mean within moments) meander back to the subject of the Doozer. It’s Machiavellian, almost, the way the kid has us wrapped around his little finger, how he manages to dominate our life even in his absence. He is nefarious.

Anyway, after dinner, we took a short walk on that brisk November night (moving at a normal pace, as opposed to being slowed down by a curious toddler reluctant to hold hands or be carried to speed up the process) and arrived at the second destination of our adventure, St. Andrews Hall, renowned music enclave, a place neither of us had visited in years (not that we’d visited any other concert venues, mind you). Glorious, it felt, to enter that space, to be transported back to our more youthful days, to late nights and loud music and cheap beer and being carefree and no kids whatsoever. Our tickets were scanned, we entered the hall, we looked around.

And immediately wanted to sit down. But the only seats were in a restricted balcony section overlooking the stage. Needless to say, we were not allowed up. “But we were up early this morning with our son and it’s been a long day,” though true, did not seem like the kind of thing that would get us what we wanted.

So we stood. And waited. And grew tired. And waited. And yelled over the pre-show music. Talk turned, yet again, to the Doozer. What was he doing? Was he in bed yet? When would we get a report about him?

And then, what time was it? How long had we been standing there? When would the opening act come on? When would the headliners actually be on stage? My feet are getting tired. My neck hurts. My lower back is starting to twinge.

Of course, in hindsight, taking your pregnant wife to a rock show where there is no seating is probably not the wisest idea. And so the notion that this evening would invigorate us, remind us that we’re still relatively young, the result was actually the opposite: to make us feel incredibly old.

Eventually, the headlining band hit the stage. Sloan was pretty big in the ‘90s when we were teenagers. My wife had owned more of their music than I had, but I distinctly remembered them getting airplay on 89X, back when it was a decent radio station that played a lot of music that you didn’t typically hear on the radio. But before I’d heard a story on NPR a few months back about Sloan celebrating its twentieth year as a band, I didn’t even know they were still around. And that they’d recorded ten albums over the course of their career. I’d missed that.

It was loud. I mean, really loud. (God, we are old.) I’d said something about ear plugs and my wife was like, Who wears ear plugs to a rock show? But I could see them sticking out of people’s ears all around us. (Maybe we’re not all that old.)

In the end, my wife said she was familiar with maybe 40 to 50 percent of the songs they played that night, I was at about 10 to 15 percent. In fact, it was not until the final song of their set that I found myself singing along. “The Good In Everyone.” I’d forgotten that was even a Sloan song. They did not play “I Hate My Generation” or “Coax Me” the two songs I am most familiar with.

Though we made it through the encore, we barely made it home. Falling asleep standing up, achy and suffering from tinnitus, we trudged back to the car and headed home. We were in bed before midnight (though up far later than our typical bedtime) and slept soundly without interruption or an early-morning Doozer wake-up call. Huzzah.

We’d done it. We’d gone out and partied like rock stars. Kind of. Sort of.

But soon enough, the concert was a memory and we were off to collect our Doozer. We’d missed him. Terribly. Machiavellian, I tell you.

But maybe not all is lost. Maybe we are not so old and pathetic as we seemed. I read just today that Ryan Adams will be headlining the Ann Arbor Folk Festival in late January and it got me thinking. The wife will only be about eight months pregnant at that point.

I’m sure that won’t be an issue.

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