Short Story, Manque
I went to see The Dirty Projectors last weekend with my husband and 15-year-old daughter. They were performing at the Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff, which is a very small, consummately cool venue, where it's hard to blend into the crowd. My daughter felt age-conscious because she was too young and was sitting with her aged parents. I felt age-conscious because I'm one of her aged parents. We sat on the balcony, which has one row of upholstered chairs on two sides and a few rows at the back.
As we looked around for age-mates (and found none), my daughter and I started to focus on a couple in their 40s about 15 feet away, sitting in the comfy chairs. He was grey haired and pudgy, with a potbelly and wearing shorts, but his face suggested that once he had been as good-looking and cool as the Kessler crowd. His equally pudgy wife kept stroking his thigh, suggesting that to at least one person, he was still hot. I told my daughter this man probably still felt 18 inside, and no doubt had been to tons of great concerts in his day. I reminded her (for the zillionth time) of the fact that I once crashed a Jefferson Airplane concert (or was it my friends who crashed it -- memory fades, I think maybe I had a ticket). You can't judge people by externals, blah, blah, blah. Anyhow, watching this couple soothed our worries about age. If this couple could enjoy the show, so could we.
The lights went down and a warm up band (Wye Oak) started to play. A short time into their set, we started hearing loud voices over where the middle-aged couple were sitting. Everyone around us started focusing in that direction. We could see pushing and shoving and the voices got louder. Then a fight broke out, and we could see a guy slam someone into the wall. My immediate thought: Aurora. I'm ready to drag my daughter down to the ground. But quickly Security came in and dragged someone away. The middle aged couple's seats were empty now. Ten minutes later, the wife came back to collect her purse. Everyone was murmuring--people were passing along accounts of what had happened.
When Wye Oak was done playing, a definitive story was passed around: someone had leaned against the middle-aged guy's chair, and he'd freaked out. Somehow or other the two had gotten into a fist fight and the couple had been evicted from the theater.
In the short story that I won't be writing, because I don't have the skills, it's all about the wife --how she feels going to this youthful venue in the first place, the hand she keeps on her husband's thigh, and especially her trip back in to collect her purse.
Somehow it's about age. Maybe it's about how we -- my daughter and I -- looked to the wrong people to deal with feeling out of place. Because they turned out to be not just out of place, but kicked out of the place. I think there's a story here, not just an anecdote, but (sadly) not one I have the skills to write!
Oh yeah, the concert. I like The Dirty Projectors, but not as much as my daughter and husband do. I agree with a line in a Pitchfork review--something to the effect to that they're enjoyable to listen to but don't get inside your head. There's something zig-zaggy and jazz-like about them, and non-melodious.