It was an enormous surprise for what had begun as a bad day. I called my husband on my break, and he announced that he had won tickets to see REO Speedwagon from a local radio station. REO Speedwagon was one of my favorite bands. In the 1970’s, the group had the coolest album entitled, You Can Tune a Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish. My teenage friends and I would rock out to REO Speedwagon in my living room on my booming console stereo that made the picture window rattle. I was so excited! I was finally going to hear 157 Riverside Avenue and Ridin’ the Storm Out, live in concert.
It was warm the night of the concert, and I dressed in what I felt were “concert” clothes. I looked good and I felt sexy. The venue was at an old ornate theater in an even older river town. Moreover, as my husband and I walked up to the front doors, I noticed that there were many older people milling about the place. I was surprised, because REO is a rocking band. Nevertheless, we went to the will call window to pick up our winning tickets; and with tickets in hand, we stood in the crush of people waiting to get into the theater. Again, I looked around and was surprised at the amount of middle-aged and older people.
Once our tickets were checked in, my husband wanted a beverage so he found a line that looked shorter than the rest. It was really packed around the beer/beverage concessions. Standing with him waiting, I mentioned to him that I had better use the lady’s room before the show started. The line at the lady’s room was long, but that is common at any event. As I waited, I noticed a few women in tank tops with colorful tattoos up and down their arms. Their arms were saggy and the tattoos looked ghastly on their aging arms. These women had to be in their 60’s! What were they doing at this rock concert?
Just as I arrived at the door to the ladies room, out comes a woman attached to an oxygen tank. That was it! What am I doing at this old person’s concert? I wondered to myself. These people all had gray hair! They dressed as we did in the 70’s, but they were not teenagers, they were parents, grandparents, and the elderly!
When I finally met with my husband again and we found our seats; and I was really freaking out. I whispered to him that he should look around.
“At what?” he asked.
“Look at all these old people.” I said incredulously.
Then I proceeded to tell him about the woman with the oxygen tank and the tattooed women in the bathroom. He looked at me with pity. I hate when he looks at me like that.
“Honey,” He said. “We are just like these people.”
I sputtered. Then, I scanned the theater and saw all the overweight, bald, graying, rockers. It hit me like a flaming meteor falling from the sky. It was a brutal realization. I am one of these old people! I am old! Until that moment, I had not felt that I was old, in fact, I that evening when I dressed for the concert, I felt like I was 18. I had not related to the simple fact that I, too, was a grandmother and had kids in their 30’s. Oh no, I thought to myself. I am too old to rock to REO Speedwagon! I had missed my chance.
Then the lights went down in the theater. The band took the stage, and Kevin Cronin wailed out my favorite song, 157 Riverside Avenue, and I was a teenager again. I stood up, and I started waving my flabby arms (no tattoos), and I sang along in my loudest voice. “Dit, dit, dit, diddle, le, dit…”
Age no longer mattered. The loud, rockin sound of a great band brought out the youngster in me. All else was forgotten for a few hours.
Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
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