“I think we cut in front of you,” Mike said to the guy behind us.
“No, no, not a problem,” he said, amicably. “Boy, what a line. I think there are more people here waiting for beer than there are up by the stage.” He scanned the plaza.
“What do you think that says about us as Americans?”
“We’re thirsty,” we said in unison.
“Folks been together a while?” He said.
This particular weekly outdoor concert series has been going on at least as long as Mike and I have been married. It used to be a highlight of my summer.
We’d meet up with friends after work, yell small talk at each other over the music, grab dinner, and sometimes end up at Ladies Night at the horse races, where we’d lose money, drink more beer, grab dinner number two, and end up going to bed way too late for a work night.
Once, when I was ginormously pregnant with Jack, Mike went without me. I was going to stay home, out of the heat. I thought we’d arranged to meet later for dinner.
He didn’t call.
Even when it was eight o’clock and I knew the concert had wrapped up, there was no call. So I called him.
A woman answered whose voice I didn’t recognize.
“Mike’s phone,” she said. “Who’s this?” I could hear bar sounds in the background.
“Um, this is his wife,” I said in a clipped tone. “Who is this?”
“Awww,” she said. “It’s Beth! Are you all napped up?”
I wasn’t normally a napper. I wasn’t normally 9 months pregnant, home on a summer evening when everyone else was out, for that matter. I was normally the ringleader of these hijinks.
Not really. But I wasn’t a homebody.
And here was some strange woman answering my husband’s phone asking about my freaking nap schedule? I hung up.
Mike made the half-hour commute home in about ten minutes.
After Jack arrived, Colin came along. For a long time, Jack had issues with loud noises. For years we couldn’t even see a movie in a theater without earplugs. Colin doesn’t do crowds. Neither one of them have proven to be fans of standing at outdoor concerts with a bunch of beer-drinking yahoos.
So we’ve been largely absent from concert scene since the onset of parenthood.
But this night we were back. I’d left a healthy selection of cut up fruit and sandwiches fixings for the kids for dinner, knowing they’d probably just eat cereal. We ordered our beer, and met up with a group of friends on the outskirts of the crowd.
A guy I’d not met before was part of the group, there with his two very young children.
The noise didn’t bother these kids, nor the crowd. They had trendy names like Olivia and Silas and were covered in cheese powder from some flavored popcorn they were eating one piece at a time.
Actually, only two year-old Olivia was eating popcorn one piece at a time. Baby Silas was sucking on one piece at a time until all the orange powder was gone and the kernel sort of dissolved in his hand.
Olivia had tight, white-blonde curls. She was quiet, intent on her popcorn. Silas was small, I thought, for nine months old. He leaned out from his dad’s arms toward me when I held out my hands to take him. I don’t know why I did that. Instinct I guess. I would instantly be covered in slobbery, orange popcorn residue.
Our boys would never have stood for an outdoor concert for any length of time at that age. The baby would have been squirming to get down and crawl on the hot bricks. The toddler would have either disappeared into the crowd, or immediately found a cigarette butt to put into his mouth, regardless of however much orange dusted popcorn we plied him with.
Olivia eventually lost interest in the popcorn and wandered over to a huge inflatable display. All of the sudden it occurred to me what a target she was, with her Shirley Temple curls and dimpled cheeks. Her dad looked in her general direction too infrequently for my taste, so I felt a need to keep an eye on her. Silas, as small as he seemed to me when I took him, was making my elbow lock up. He smelled like drool, and smeared orange tinted snot on my t-shirt.
We didn’t go to dinner that night. We didn’t grab a group and go to the horse races either, or stay out too late for a work night.
We went home. I changed shirts while Mike washed out cereal bowls. Then we hung out with the kiddos.
You GUYS. Manic Mom’s embarrassing her kids on Huffington Post this week! Check it out. If you share, I’ll give you a pony. Not a real pony. A virtual pony (who would want a real pony?).
But not until you vote. You get a pony for that too. Thank you!
photo by: @giovanni