My dad and I took the light rail to The Pepsi Center for The Police concert. It's the first time I've ridden it, and it wasn't until I saw the reflection of the train in a row of factory windows that it reminded me – just a little – of the El, and something inside uncurled and relaxed and felt a little more at home.
Which was a good thing, since my dad and I weren't really talking.
No, nothing's wrong. It's just how it is these days. I come from odd sort of people. Our knees don't seem to bend when in close proximity to other family members, so we end up standing around a lot, usually right next to chairs, and not saying much. Also, we develop this thing in our necks where our heads stay permanently turned to one side, or cocked downwards, depending on the location of others in the room. Think of plants growing away, rather than towards, the sunlight. I think my parents still have eyes; I just haven't seen them in a while.
So keep this in mind as I tell you about the day, and you'll have an incongruent sort of picture in your head. I think.
We took the light rail and got to our destination three hours early. The plan had been to eat at a restaurant before the show. A good plan, except that we ended up having a large, late lunch and neither of us felt at all hungry. This fact did not change the initial early-arrival plan because, well, when my parents are around plans don't change. So. We went to a bar and had a couple of beers.
And it was nice, having a beer in a bar with my dad, because it's something that I've never done before. And it was also strained, having a beer in a bar with my dad, because it's something I've never done before.
So we sat on bar stools next to each other and confused the bartenders for an hour.
Then for the next hour we sat on a bench outside, waiting for the doors to open. The beer helped and we talked. About The Sopranos, Battlestar Galactica, Nip and Tuck, Grey's Anatomy. All of which he has seen and I have not. We made fun of Paris Hilton. And we watched the people pass.
My dad asked if I remembered the World's Fair in Knoxville. I did. He told me how he saw a couple of Japanese guys walk by wearing Ghost in the Machine concert t-shirts and he how he envied the hell out of them. He was thirty-five. And I thought, “Jesus. I remember when my dad was younger than I am now.”
Our seats were good; only seven rows up from the floor. Being short as well as odd sort of people, there is a distinct advantage to not actually having floor seats unless they are the first row. The only drawback is that you do not share that rarefied floor space in which you can walk and move closer to the stage at will. There is security that prevents you from leaving the bleachers. As I told my dad, “I wish I were a big fat guy so that I could be a security guard.”
Anyway, the opening band, Fictionplane or somesuch absolutely sucked. They sucked out loud. They sucked too loud. The singer at one point climbed onto a speaker and my dad leaned over and said, “Fall! Fall! Put us out of this misery!”
And then there was The Police. There was that moment when they came on and I thought, this is either going to be wonderful or terrible and there will be no in-between.
And my god they rocked. Meno,you'll be glad to know that Sting wore a sleeveless shirt. I myself was very glad to see it. Or rather, glad to see his shoulders. There are no finer-looking shoulders in this world.
They sounded great, and did a lot of new versions of old songs. And finally, finally, I had my wish to sing Syncronicity and Voices in My Head with Sting. I could have E-Oh'ed and Cha'ed and E yo yo yo'ed with him all night. The best two songs though had to be Walking on the Moon (No surprise; that's Sting's favorite song so it was well-polished) and Wrapped Around You Finger, which they stretched into a slinky, spooky song. Yum.
And then during one of the encore songs, Every Breath You Take, my dad tapped me on the arm, leaned over and said, “I think we can get onto the floor now if we're quick.”
So we did. We Zenyatta'ed, security Mondatta'ed, and before you could say canary in a coal mine there we were on the floor up closer and more personal with Mr. Sting. Not close enough to catch sweat, but hey.
Our little maneuver of course meant we had to keep moving, so we left before the final song. But it was worth it. We ran for the train, hopped onto the last car and sped back out to the burbs.
Quietly. But smiling.
*You're gonna see a lot of Police references for a while, so get used to it.