My friend Veronica runs concert booking for a small venue in lower Manhattan. It's a job that sends her all over the country meeting with talent and doing other fancy pants things that I am constantly in awe of.
And because my schedule is rarely tame between the obscene amount of projects I involve myself in and business trips for work, Veronica and I typically have a hell of a time trying to coordinate so we can see each other.
We often will put time on the calendar a month in advance just so we can make sure it happens. Several weeks ago we had planned to get together on a random Wednesday in September. A week before that happened she found out she was going to have to put on a short promo concert early that evening.
She invited me to come by and watch the show and we would go grab drinks afterward. I said that was great. I think it’s cool to see what your friends actually do for a living since most of the time we have some skewed unrealistic view of what their day is like.
Like my buddy who works for s consulting firm, I just imagine he sits at his desk all day hating people.
That one actually might be right.
So I show up to the venue 45 minutes before the show. I didn't want to get there too early. I did that thing where the closer I got the slower I walked. As per usual I had dramatically overestimated how long it would take to get there.
I show up almost everywhere early. I am not very cool.
As I got closer to the venue I saw it, a line of little people; tweens.
That magical age of cacophonous crackling voices and pubescent rage that stirs itself into a mass of misunderstood codependency.
They were lined up around the venue, hundreds of them, for a small private show that would last no more than 30 minutes. They were crammed against each other adorned in too many bracelets and way too much eye makeup.
And then there was me. The 29 year old in khakis and a backpack carrying a Hugo boss shopping bag.
I looked like I was online for a yuppie sample sale.
Veronica had told me my name would be on the list at the door and to just let them know. I thought that was fine until I realized I was going to have to jump this line of tweens to get there. Not only did I fear their wrath but I was also extremely embarrassed that I was jumping a line of said wrathful tweens in order to be first into a concert for which I now appeared to be the oldest most out of place fan.
I became even more uncomfortable when I got to the front and saw a tall redheaded girl whose face was soaked in tears choking out some kind of explanation to a security guard.
It was apparent her and I were about to have very different experiences.
I went up to one of the security guards and said
Hi, Veronica put my name on the list.
I cringed even as I said it. I've never been a list guy. I'm never on the list, I never try to get on the list, and the only times I was ever supposed to be on the list, it didn't work out so well. I always end up getting sent to the back of the line or told that’s the wrong list or some other ridiculous thing. I have friends who love the list. They live for the list. But to me it’s like alchemy or the white whale, it exists to function only in theory.
I support all the list can potentially offer but its fair to say in my day to day, I am anti-list.
The door guy checked with somebody else, took my ID and then eventually gave me a bracelet and told me to wait to the left.... behind all of the tweens.
So I’m standing in line behind all of the tweens starting to feel more insecure about this whole thing. Nothing says wrong like the guy who shows up to the concert with a shopping bag. I kept waiting for one of the tweens to turn around and ask me;
What are YOU doing here?
I texted my friend to let her know I had arrived and she came out to find me.
She brought me into the venue and introduced me to some adults. I started feeling better instantly.
As I sat there though, I realized there was an amorphous gaggle of tweens pressed up against the window behind me. I didn’t turn around because I could feel there superhormonized eyes boring a hole in my back. I feared turning around and being lured into some silent pantomime conversation with a bunch of kids who would give anything to be where I was at that time.
It was then that I realized, 15 years ago, I would probably have been one of those tweens outside the window who would give anything to switch places with the guy with the shopping bag.
And I realize now the irony of the situation is the guy with the shopping bag didn’t know a single thing about the band and cared more about seeing his friend then he did the music.
But I also realize now that showing up anywhere with a shopping bag makes you look considerably less cool, especially a concert.