My Mother’s Day today went much like everyone else’s, I imagine …. Get up and make pancakes, go to church (oh, no, wait, we didn’t, because two of the kids refused to get dressed on time) then gather ‘round to open up my Mother’s Day gifts -- the requisite small bowls (when *I* was in school, we called them ashtrays, un-p.c. as that might be today) made by the kids in art class, and the traditional decoupage candle holder. Brayden also made me a very neat memory book, and Blaine gave me a new soap dispenser for our guest bathroom.
You think I’m kidding.
I am not.
He also gave me a new paper napkin dispenser for the same bathroom.
Again, with the not kidding.
What I should also tell you, in fairness, is that the soap dispenser and paper napkin holder were gifts number two and three, and things that I *did* want. Gift number one was something I asked for weeks ago --- wanted more than you could possibly know, and possibly more than is cool or hip to admit -- tickets to tonight’s REO Speedwagon concert at our local amphitheater.
Have I ever told you of my deep and abiding love for REO Speedwagon? I pink puffy heart REO, and always have. Always will. Long live Kevin Cronin. Other bands have come and gone, but they are my constant. (I know, I’m a true child of the 80’s and I don’t know whether to be proud, or apologize.) I love almost everything they’ve ever done, be it their stuff from the 70’s, 80’s or more recent work (“recent” being a relative term.) That’s not to say they’ve not had any stinkers … have you heard the reggae version of Keep on Loving You? Ick. And despite fan appeal, I can’t stand the talking guitar in 157 Riverside Avenue. But still, for the most part --- LOVE THEM.
I have seen them in concert, as a conservative guess, at least a dozen times. In fact, now that I think about it, probably more like fifteen or twenty. Back in the 80’s, during the height of their popularity, I saw them at least once a year – I ALWAYS went if they were in town, and loved the outdoor concerts best of all. I’ve seen them time and again in OKC, and also in North Dakota and Ohio. Last year, I missed them at the Georgia State Fair by one day when we were out of town and seriously, I almost cried. So when I found out they would be playing here on Mother’s Day this year, I bought tickets and then told Blaine that was what he was giving me for my present. Luckily, he likes them too, so we looked forward to the evening. We didn’t buy the reserved seating down in the front of the amphitheater because it seemed sort of expensive, especially by the time they tack on the online service fees, and amphitheater fees, but still, I couldn’t wait. I never sit down at an REO concert and dance the entire time, so I figured being in the general admission area just meant I would have more space to move around. Good for me; good for the people sitting next to me; not so good for the people behind me who have to witness my uncoordinated-yet-enthusiastic flailing about, but mainly what matters … good for me.
You know my BFF Louis that I talk about on this site from time to time? Well, he and his wife also bought tickets so we could “double date” -- how fun is that? Then, about a week ago, Blaine had to take a good long look at his current physical situation (allergy problems, sinus infection, and partial root canal that the military can’t finish until the end of the month which is killing him) and admit to himself that there was no way he could spend several hours at an outdoor concert. The weather here, just in its difference from Georgia, specifically the winds, has been bothering him for months, and he simply can’t bear to be outside for long at all. So, our “double date” plans turned into “do you mind if I tag along with the two of you?” kind of plans …. But that’s ok, Louis and Lori are good sports, and it was still going to be a great time. I mean, it’s REO, how can you NOT love it???
The concert was tonight, and yep, I loved it. Night Ranger first, which was fun. I must admit I was a little disappointed that they, meaning REO, only played for an hour and a half. And, they didn’t play Tough Guys, which is pretty much grounds for getting my ticket money refunded back to me as far as I’m concerned, but still with the loving it --- I did. We Rode the Storm Out, Rolled with the Changes, Took it on the Run, decided we *could* Fight this Feeling, realized it was Time for Us to Fly, and ultimately agreed to Keep on Loving You, plus a host of others. I danced, smelled marriage-awanna for the first time in years (I said SMELLED it, not smoked it!) and got to enjoy a night of beautiful weather and good music with dear friends. And, since I was the designated driver, did NOT have to pay six bucks for a beer, which is always a plus.
But (you knew there had to be a but, didn’t you?) I had a realization tonight that made me sort of sad. At all the other REO concerts I’ve ever been to, I did the sort of frenzied dancing in the aisles that leaves me sweaty, exhausted, and happy at the end of the night. This time … well …. Louis’ wife was not feeling well and honestly was a good sport just to stick it out until the end of the evening, let alone kick up her heels with me. Louis stood with me to be polite, but isn’t much of a dancer himself. So instead of the wild chaotic mess of terrible (yet extremely fun) dancing that I normally do, tonight was sort of a lame shuffle from side to side. The music was good, and I still had fun, just not the uninhibited rock-fest that it normally is for me.
About twenty feet to my left, there was another group of adults enjoying the concert on a blanket together. Three of them sat on the blanket, having a perfectly lovely time, singing along to the music. But the fourth guy, well, he totally rocked all night. Hair down to his waist, black t-shirt, air guitar like I’ve never seen it before --- this guy was having an AWESOME time and didn’t care if anyone around him thought he was goofy. He wasn’t hurting anyone, wasn’t stumbling drunk or spilling beer on anyone, just having a blast all by himself, rocking out to each and every song.
I thought it was a hoot, watching him, and at one point during the evening I turned to Louis and said, “I’m surprised none of his friends are dancing with him …. He’s having such a good time! You know, twenty years ago, I would totally have gone over there and danced with him.” And Louis just smiled and said, “Yep, you would have.”
So then I got to thinking --- what’s wrong with me? What happened to my sense of spontaniety? My sense of fun and wildness and the freedom to dance all night at a concert if I want to? Since when is it not ok to walk up to wild-hair man and join in his fun?
I shouldn’t be celebrating Mother’s Day, I should be celebrating Great-Grandmother’s Day, because that’s how I act. I am an Old. Fart.
Anyway, I’ve already decided that next year, I’m splurging for the VIP seats. Those fans down there were jamming, and I want to be a part of that. Partly because I am determined to re-discover my own, personal fun streak. And partly because REO has been touring for something like 40 years, and I better take advantage of the fun before I am too old to dance like that. Or they are too old to tour. Or dead. Either of us.