by Stefi Sparer
“What are you wearing to the concert?” Jane, my hairdresser’s assistant asks as she massages my head. She tilts my head forward and works on my neck. It is quite possibly the nicest feeling in the whole entire world, and I choose not to answer her until she’s done. The head massage is worth the price of the haircut alone. She begins to towel dry my tresses and my voice is muffled through the terry cloth.
“Uh, probably this new dress my mom bought me for my birthday,” I lie. Not about the new dress, that I do have, but I haven’t shaved my legs in about a month, and though I love Gwen Stefani, her concert wasn’t reason enough for me to bust out the four blade Gillete. Jeans and a cute top, what I already had on, seemed just fine to me.
“So cute!” Jane emphasizes the ‘cute’ like she was trying to resell the dress to me after I describe it to her with full girlie disclosure, being sure to use enough Project Runway jargon to sound like I mean it.
It’s not that I don’t like looking nice, but I never understood the twelve-year-olds, or twenty-year-olds for that matter, who glammed up for a dark concert where no one was looking at them. The theatre I understand dressing up for, or the opera, because it is more intimate, but a Britney Spears concert? Madonna? Gwen Stefani? In a big ass arena named after some website? In Arizona? I’m just not so into dressing up for pop concerts. Or the shouting that seems to be required. Or the wooing. I am a very subdued concert goer. As is my sister, so she makes for the perfect concert companion. We may not seem happy, standing with our arms folded across our chests and barely mouthing the words while our heads bob up and down ever so slightly, but we are. We really are. We would just rather listen to Gwen singing, not each other, so we won’t be shouting the words to any songs. It’s just not dignified and should be saved for car rides. We might tap our feet a little, we might sway our hands or clap when asked, but we most certainly will not dance. Not under any condition.
“Who knows what it’s like to live in the gheeeeeettttttttttttttttoooooooo?” Acorn or Akon, a rapper with a reggae vibe asks the audience. Two girls a row ahead of us begin to scream and jump up and down in their matching Juicy Couture sweat suits, a blur of bubblegum pink among the crowd. Akon begins to shout again, “If you know what it’s like to live in the ghetto, lemme hear you say, ‘I know what it’s like to live in the ghetto!’”
“I know what it’s like to live in the ghetto!” the girls scream like Acorn might hear them over everyone else. The two hug their L.A.M.B. bags, no doubt containing cherry flavored lip gloss, a dainty pink derringer, and their Sidekicks so that they can text pictures of the concert to their less privileged girlfriends sitting at home watching The Hills. One girl throws her head back and lets out a cry like someone was stealing the sweat suit right off of her back. Or killing her. “I LOVE YOU!” she finishes the scream off, “YOU ARE SO HOT!” She then continues to sing every word of some song with lyrics about not being the first to die when you are in the ghetto hanging with whatever gang you belong to. My sister and I glare at each other, engaging in a very Jim-to-Camera moment. “I hate them,” my sister shouts into my ear over the music and I nod.
Even when I was like them, I was never like then. Let me put it to you this way; my first concert was The Cher Farewell Tour. Or Comeback tour. One of those. It was as if I grew up as a little gay boy, but I didn’t mind. I like Cher. Now I am the dorky twenty-year-old with earplugs realizing that the opening act –whom I’ve never heard of – for Gwen Stefani –whom I love- is the same guy who “sings” that song on the radio that I hate and change within the first three beats. A mother and I exchange glances and I dig into my purse and give her my extra pair of pink squishy earplugs. She lights up like one of those girls on My Super Sweet Sixteen when they receive the BMW their parents said they would never buy them but we all knew they’d get. It just wouldn’t be an episode of My Super Sweet Sixteen unless some spoiled little girl who didn’t have her license yet was gifted with a black SUV. The only difference between those girls and this woman is that she was ever so gracious when I gave her the earplugs and mouthed “thank you”, something I have never heard uttered on My Super Sweet Sixteen.
“I couldn’t get a girlfriend to save my life,” the rapper goes on to say. “I tried everything!”
“OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU SO EFFING MUCH!” The girls in front of us shout while their mother sits stone faced in her seat, looking quite ill. I can just smell the Republican on her. She reeks of McCaine for President donation checks. I wonder how she feels about her little girl being in love with a black man trying to save the Ghetto Lifestyle one luscious booty at a time? Her daughter screams at the top of her lungs toward the stage, “YOU ARE SO HOT!” because she’s been lonely too, and she knows what it’s been like to be lonely in the Ghetto of Life. I guess in that case, I have too. I probably shouldn’t judge the girl. After all, I listen to DMX.