Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cougar's Day Out

So, the next day I drove the roughly 200 miles to Dallas to see my favorite American Idol, David Cook. For you long time blog followers, you will likely recall me mentioning him before from time-to-time. My interest is not strictly limited to his musical abilities, I have to confess. (And, yes, I am old enough to be his mother.) So were half the women there. I am not alone in this particular semi-obsession. It's the eyes. He can use them like a weapon. If he leveled those milk chocolate eyes straight at me and asked anything of me - anything at all - I would surely give it to him. Greg is aware of this with no ensuing protests. He indulges it knowing that snowballs have a better chance in Hades than I do of ever having those eyes meeting mine.

I went by myself, but had plans to meet my niece there. Severely directionally challenged, I arrived absurdly early rather than risk not being able to find it. Arriving a little more than three hours before doors were to open, I noticed women were already in line. I meandered around the area a bit looking for something to occupy myself, but not finding much, I simply lined up with them. When you join a group that early, you are in with the more passionate fans. I kept my iPod on to amuse myself, but I could see and hear enough to know some of these women had seen him multiple times. They knew his band and spoke about them like they were all high school buddies. And the ages ran the gamut. From the barely teens to women who probably could be my mother. Of the smattering of men in the crowd whom I couldn't immediately label as gay, I noticed the steely look I see on men accompanying their girlfriends to romantic comedies at the movies. They know they have to do these types of things in order to be granted permission for poker nights or to be lucky in the bedroom, but it extracts a heavy toll on their manhood, so they set their jaws and keep their eyes on the ground and just suffer through. I was amused by all of this, but couldn't help but wonder what Kelsey would think of her mother standing there with all of these women, all trying to get a look at those lovely orbs and hear delicious deep voice.

Once my niece joined me, and they allowed us into the venue, she very expertly guided us to a spot a little stage left, second row back. And there we stood for another hour or so waiting for the first opening band, casually chatting with the women lucky enough to be leaning into the barricade in front of us. They spent the time swapping stories of their concert experiences. A girl my niece knows casually ended up behind me and joined in the conversation. Very quickly it became clear I was surrounded by concert junkies. The two women in front of me clearly would go to anything and everything, but the group as a whole followed the Idols around as a preferred listening experience. My niece, I already knew, was a big fan of the show and caught Kelly Clarkson whenever and where ever she can. She had already seen David Cook a couple of times as well. But, she didn't stop there. She also runs a pretty wide gamut, from country to punk. She announced this was her eighth concert of the year covering a tri-state area. I was doing a little running math in my head, and was flabbergasted at how any of these young girls could afford to do that. And, as they conversed away, each trying to out-do the other regarding the people they'd seen and the seats they had gotten and how much they knew about each artist, I watched them constantly fiddle with their iPhones. I seriously need some financial advice from these girls, I decided, because I can't afford either their lifestyle or their toys. I would have been highly, highly amused by all this but for the fact that my back was really beginning to protest standing for that many hours with no support. I am, I thought more than once that night, decidedly too old for this.

However, I made it, and both his opening bands were good and not bad to gaze upon in their own rights. They were engaging young men, clearly enjoying what they do. I ended up coming home with both of their cd's, and I will gladly see either band again. But, they weren't the show I came to see, and finally, more than five hours after I began standing around south downtown Dallas, my Idol came on stage. I caught myself audibly saying "Oh my God, there he is." when he walked on. I was like a teenager on her first date with the guy she's had a crush on all school year. And, I was not disappointed. Those eyes lose nothing in translation in real life. I already knew he wasn't particularly tall, and could use some work with a personal trainer, but he is, in my opinion, completely and utterly adorable. And an awesome showman. He fancies himself a rock star, as does his band. I was also amused by that. I think to a certain degree his status as American Idol, the pop music machine, must frustrate him, but if it does, he doesn't let his audience know. He chatted with them, he flirted with them, he tossed himself into them. He seemed genuinely excited by their adoration, and it is no doubt at all to me why some of these women border on stalking him. He seems like the guy next door who is really nice. He is a natural showman. I was happily distracted by my little voyeurisms. But then something happened.

He pauses the set and calls the band members for the two opening acts out on stage to announce that his bass player, a kid named Adam, would be turning 24 at midnight. I'm sure, if anyone would have looked at me at that moment, they would have seen the shock on my face. I felt my eyes go wide in order to take this kid in. He's cute in his own right, shaggy haired and thin. And, there he stood, my daughter's age and about to turn one year older. Of all the nights for me to be in the audience. But, I blinked once or twice and joined everyone else in singing Happy Birthday to him, all the while with him looking genuinely embarrassed and uncomfortable. I was shaken by the experience. There was this very young person I had seen on Saturday Night Live, in videos that I have on my iPod, a former lead singer of a reasonably known regional act, who I always assumed was a bit older, and then I was faced with the reality that, already fairly successful, he was about to hit a milestone my child won't have the chance to see. I don't resent him for working hard and making a semi-name for himself backing up the man who used to back him up (they were in same band in Tulsa, OK pre-Idol), but it was the reminder of my child not being there for any more birthdays that got to me. I sincerely hope this young man lives long and, as Spock would say, prospers, but I mourn the fact that my own flesh and blood will not.

I realize too that when things like that happen to me, those little shocking reminders, they wear me out. It's as if I become automatically ten years older with each small reminder. I must be two centuries old by now. As I climbed back in my car to drive home, I was exhausted. Granted, at almost the half century mark, I had stood without a break for nearly eight hours, but it was a deeper level of tired than that. The fact that I made it home without killing someone is a minor miracle. I actually drifted off twice, just briefly, on the long drive back. I won't put anyone at risk like that again, I can tell you. And what about my poor precious car?! I could have damaged her! I still feel a little jet lag from my "wild" weekend, and can barely keep my eyes open now.

A few days went by before I could really put my finger on why I continued to feel so drained and down. I knew I would have, as Sarah Palin might say, "gotcha" moments, but I was surprised when they reached out for me at events I thought would be safe havens, and I knew that was part of it. The disappointment I felt at having been reminded so fully of my loss when I wanted so badly to forget it just for a while was fairly intense, and the strain of it exhausted me. I realized I had been trying to push past the normal course of the grief. I was trying to circumvent it and fully rejoin the human race again while I had a free moment, and that idea rose up and bit me in the behind. The grief just will not be ignored. For now it is just a part of me, and I cannot leave it behind. I know that now. So, now, I have to learn to co-exist with it. I wonder if David Cook, who only a short time before me suffered his own catastrophic loss, would understand what I mean.

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