Sunday, November 05, 2006

Arrested Development

Last night found Craze and I heading out the door at 10:45 pm to see a show. About 25 minutes later standing in Chicago's famed Double Door, our timing couldn't have been better. As we moved through the echoing, smoky, cavernous space, the headliners took to the stage. In a nod to our increasing foothold in middle age, we were there to see 1985 one-hit-wonder, Scitti Politti.

To say that many of our recent concert forays have us stuck in a time warp would certainly be fair. We've bought tickets in the past year or so to see Thomas Dolby, Siouxie and the Banshees, Pretenders, Midge Ure, Kraftwerk and The Fixx to name just a few of our eighties heroes. But to give us points for not totally living in the past, Scritti Politti actually has a new album out that got a pretty decent review earlier this summer in The New Yorker.

From the first guitar riff, Green Gartside and his band of accomplished musicians had our toes tapping and heads nodding to the familiar rhythms. And it was easy to forget that this guy's been rocking out since the late seventies and secretly revel in my "hip," still-club-going self. In his fifties, Gartside could easily pass for thirty and his current band mates were obviously in diapers at the pinnacle of the band's popularity more than twenty years ago. Together, this made his ensemble seem fresh, almost au currant.

Standing there in the crowd, I suddenly found it rather interesting that I'm doing the same kind of things I did twenty years ago when I first heard this band. With no kids at home, just a good-natured mutt and a couple of independent felines, Craze and I still live like a couple in our twenties. We have jobs and a house and some of the trappings of our forties counterparts, but have actively avoided many of the other accoutrements. We haven't purchased a Lexus or any other kind of luxury, status vehicle and have never seriously considered moving to the 'burbs. Our time and cash is not taken up with childcare or trying to find the "right" school for our little ones. Since the Bug graduated some time ago from puppy training and now is making good inroads at Agility Class, education of any kind is a hobby for us, not a parental necessity. We have the luxury of time and little responsibility that allows us to grab dinner, see a movie or hit a late night music venue at a whim without worry that the babysitter has to get home soon.

But then my train of thought asked the next logical question: "Will I still be doing this stuff twenty years from now, when I'm. . .60?"

The idea seemed kind of crazy. How does a sixty-year-old fit in at a place like the Double Door? And when, if ever, might it really feel right to put away my dancing shoes and just take up knitting or some equally sedate past time? This thought percolated through my head as I continued to sway to the tunes from the new album (see, showing my age again!). Looking at the crowd around me there were plenty of young trendsetters. The twenty- and thirty-somethings of the skinny jean and bangled-arm persuasion lit up frequently, still armor-proofed by youth, oblivious to how their next drag could kill them one day. The cute lesbians provided perhaps the most enjoyable spectacle, dirty dancing towards the front of the stage, their bodies folding neatly together in exuberant, simultaneous rhythm.

And then I saw them. Right at the front, stage left. A couple stood there, clearly quite a bit older than Craze and I; their faces bathed in the stage lights. They weren't in their sixties, but easily pushing fifty. Mr. John J. Boomer was dressed in his weekend uniform of jeans, navy turtleneck and denim shirt. He was almost completely bald and stared up at the lead singer with a kind of reverence. As if he was looking up at the face of God. And only occasionally did his prominent chin bob ever so slightly to the music, like he was absorbing every note, versus letting its course flow through him.

His lady friend reminded me of a shorter version of my mother. Her short, curly gray hair was nicely styled in a demi-bouffant, not unlike the coiffure of Queen Elizabeth. She wore a tidy gray car coat, brown plus-size petite trousers and equally sensible, brown, soft-soled shoes. The strap of her handbag was draped over her left shoulder and she clutched the purse at her hip. Mrs. Boomer had a ruddy, round-cheeked look, rather British, and, like her counterpart, stood virtually motionless, staring up with a look of perfect peacefulness as the band ran through their pop, rap, rock program.

They clearly did not fit in. Still, there they were, not just at the concert but right at the front of the stage. And while I found myself hoping to God right there on the dance floor that I'd never give in to such bland attire or, for that matter, let my increasingly gray hair remain its now natural color, their presence provided a reassuring answer to my earlier mental question.

In twenty more years, will I be heading out to the clubs to inhale too much second-hand smoke, make a dent in my ear drums and stay up way past bedtime? Chances are, if Craze has anything to do with it, we'll still be living in the city in a state of arrested development. I may take up knitting at some point, but we'll still be sporting the latest jeans and taking our nieces and nephews out with us for a spot of late-night fun.

No comments: