Earplugs are the coolest accessory

safe_in_sound copyMike and I were at a reception last week for a woman who would deliver the keynote address at a conference the next day. The conference chair and her husband were telling us that our guest of honor had found a note in her room from the hotel manager apologizing in advance for the concert that would be happening that night in the adjacent arena.

“What kind of crazy thing do you think they have going on there?” The woman remarked.

We knew. It was a national music festival, billing itself as 150,000 watts of bass crunch, from a brand of noise they say is so intense “you can touch in the air.” It’s the kind of music Jack and all his friends have been talking about. Dubstep. Electro house hip-hop.

And, I kid you not one freaking bit, the concert promoter recommends earplugs.

Doesn’t that sound just so outrageously awesome awful?

Anyway, we happened to know about it because that’s where we’d dropped our 15 year-old off on the way to the reception.

This was after I helped him put pink, glow-in-the-dark gel in his hair, and gave him a little packet of ear plugs that matched his neon green t-shirt.

Mike and I decided to drive by the arena really slowly on the way home to see if we could catch a little of the cacophony from the street. No luck, but we did get an eyeful of some people in bunny ears, what looked like the latest in exoskeletal-samurai-storm-trooper wear and moon boots, so we guessed Jack’s pink hair would prove to be more tame than he would have wanted.

I caught a little of the concert online a little later, and from what I could tell their audience is big into repetitive electronic screechy sounds, punctuated by the occasional primal scream, and highlighted by a seizure-inducing light show.

Here’s a taste. String about 36 hundred of these back to back and you’ve probably got yourself the whole show:

And yes, I do feel like someone’s grumpy, old grandpa, grousing about the crap kids listen to today … just after complaining about how the weather makes my joints creak.

Just because I feel bad complaining about it, doesn’t mean I’m going to try to like it, though.

I usually live for concerts. Listening to someone play is one of our favorite date nights. I love being in a crowd that’s moving to the same beat and screaming out familiar lyrics at the top of my lungs. I like head-splittingly loud music, just as much as the tamer acoustic stuff. I like a good folk sing-along as well as the bubble-gummy make-me-jump-until-I-remember-jumping-around-makes-me-pee-my-pants-music.

I was never allowed to go to a concert at Jack’s age. It could be that there weren’t many concerts where I was from. It could be that my parents were worried about the kind of people who went to see live music, even though probably the most dangerous thing that could happen to a show I was likely to see would be someone’s hair product catching fire when they brandished a lighter for a slow song.

Jack had been working us to get to go to this concert for a few weeks. I thought he’d fall all over himself with happiness when I told him I thought it’d probably be fine, but that his dad and I would want him home by 10 pm on a school night.

Rather than the “You’re the best mom ever!” reaction I expected, I got righteous indignation.

“What? No one else has to be home that early!”

I asked what time he thought was reasonable, then chortled when he told me.

2 am.

That’s right. My kid had a meltdown because he would be the only teenager on the planet who would have to be home before the bars close. On a Tuesday.


Somewhere along the line, this child of mine has gotten the idea that he can say something this outrageous to me, to my face, that everyone else’s parents are letting them stay out until 2 am on any occassion, much less a school night, and that I’ll just cave, thinking well, I certainly don’t want to crimp his style or be the totally uncool parent.

Well, okay, we caved a little. We said maybe 11. And then like any thinking person, I used the concert as leverage for the next two weeks to get him to do whatever I wanted.

On the night of the event, he went out with his pink hair, we went to hobnob at our deal and then went home (after our little recon drive-by of the concert venue) to wait. We had a plan to pick him up at a designated place and time. What if he didn’t show? Did we have a recent photo and description? Did we even know the parents of the friends he was supposed to be with? What the heck were we thinking? Worry gnawed a little at our edges as the time passed, and we decided we’d both head back downtown, in case we had to split up and form a search party.

But he was there, waiting for us, and yes, he was happy we’d let him go. He’d forgotten to wear the earplugs. Nobody had remarked on the pink hair. His friends had left just before he did, apparently not taking advantage of their 2 am curfews. No, he hadn’t had anything to eat, yes it was crowded, yes there were some crazy costumes.

Yes, no, no … could we please stop peppering him with questions? It was so late, and he was very tired.


Did you catch that I’m giving away an autographed copy of Motherhood, May Cause Drowsiness? It’s true. Details here.


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Photo by Teaghan McGinnis


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  1. Enjoyed your post as always, but I have to comment on the image and image text you used. Very clever! I appreciate your wit there.
    I had to laugh at the parallel with my own son, and now to a lesser degree, my daughter also who just turned 14. They make the most outrageous requests!

  2. My most outrageous request was when my son brought home a set of nunchucks and asked me what could possibly go wrong.

    That conversation did not go as he\’d hoped.

    I\’m with you on this. You know, as usual.

      1. Oh, I mean the fact that you\’re with me on this is good to know, not the fact that you kid brought home nunchucks… but you probably knew that.

        Nunchucks are rarely a good to know kind of thing.

  3. Oh my, I can totally relate to the conversation with your son! My oldest always reminds us that we are so strict and the \”only parents\” who ever set rules/curfews. It\’s amusing. 😉 Oh, and those lights would give anyone a seizure, I think. Wow!