My daughters asked what I wanted for my August birthday. I’m sometimes hard to buy for as I don’t want anything. Not because I’m trying to be difficult, or worse, noble, but stuff has little value anymore. My apartment is small, space is limited and I’m a minimalist when it comes to décor. I don’t have a single carpet on the wood floors. Bare looks better. I don’t want nor need anything tangible. It (the gift) should not clutter my life and must be useful in a some way.
Last Christmas I asked for a Clarisonic–the basic one without multiple attachments that would surely end up scattered around my bathroom cabinet.
Dual purpose–check: takes up little space and I pretend I look ten years younger.
On my fifty-second birthday I asked for two hubcaps. Yes, hubcaps. Mine mysteriously disappeared while the car was in the parking garage. The manager was suspiciously blasé (that’s right, I’m looking at you, Joe).
For my fifty-third, though, I knew exactly what I wanted.
I asked the girls to get three tickets to the Eagles concert on September 18th, Madison Square Garden. I told them it would be “the experience of a lifetime, one they’ll carry with them long after I’m gone.”
OK, that might’ve been a slight overstatement. I recall my dad saying the same thing when he took me to see Wayne Newton at the Desert Inn. BUT, in his defense, I can still pour my heart out when singing “Red Roses for a Blue Lady”.
My girls did what I asked. Um, kind of. They bought two. Seemed neither was eager to have the GREATEST NIGHT EVER. They would flip a coin, they told me. Loser would attend. With that statement I had validation of my thoughts during their teenage years:
I have birthed the spawn of Satan.
“Fine,” I told them, “I don’t care who goes but you better sing and dance to every song. Don’t you dare fucking ruin this for me.”
When your children are twenty-six and twenty-nine, it’s perfectly acceptable to swear at them. I doggedly throw curse words their way these days because life is too short to let simple pleasures pass me by.
Chelsea said she knew the songs, but would not dance. Morgan said she might dance but only knew “Hotel California”. Morgs lost the coin toss. I would be singing alone.
In preparation for the concert I watched the documentary History Of The Eagles multiple times. I recorded it on my DVR with the “delete by” date of: hell freezes over. By the tenth time, I’d learned much personal information about the group and cursed my younger self for not having a stronger work ethic. I should’ve at least tried to become a professional Eagles groupie. Seeing a young Don Henley on the screen, all hair and angst, was a reminder of the importance of having clear goals and objectives even when young.
To further prep, I played Eagles songs over and over. I purchased new headphones because my ears were sore from constantly wearing the worn out earbuds.
On the day of the concert I began getting ready hours before it was necessary, and that included wine. Although wearing black skinny jeans, I shaved my legs for Mr. Henley. He could look out in the crowd and spot me, after all, and I didn’t want to be hindered by two-day growth. I topped off my all black attire with a denim jacket because, duh, it was an Eagles concert. I also wore shoes that should be both worshipped and cursed.
My flip-flops fit snugly inside my evening bag. Only the truest fan—who’s also in decade five—would be devoted enough to lug alternative footwear for dancing.
I arrived early and it was heaven. Denim was rampant; people were old just like me. I don’t mean decrepit, shuffling along pulling an oxygen tank. It was an Eagles concert not the Metropolitan Opera. I even got a contact high from pot being smoked all around me.
Morgan showed up and after a quick photo, we headed inside.
“Mom! You don’t have to run!” She yelled, ten feet behind.
I bought t-shirts. Quite obvious which one she picked–that disgraceful lone song she knew.
Once seated (we were in the rafters), a man walked up and began talking to three people next to me. Seems he was in the bathroom and a concert employee approached with tickets, several levels lower. He told the group (his wife and another couple) they should head down. Being a nosy person, I asked him how he got so lucky.
“I guess he just liked my face,” he said, laughing.
“Well, ask him if he likes this face.” I replied shamelessly, and he told me he would.
A few minutes later he returned with two more tickets. I couldn’t get up faster and had already put on the flip-flops.
“Stick with me,” I told Morgan, “I get shit done.”
And I question why they love to take me down a notch?
We made it to our seats and I told the man seated next to me (part of the group that got tickets) that I was probably going to sing off-key for the entire show. He said he was singing, too, but had a good voice. His wife didn’t want him to sing, he said, and she nodded in agreement. “We can sing together.” I said, happy that I’d at least have someone who knew the songs. Morgan whispered that his wife didn’t like that. Really? I didn’t think she seemed upset. Come on, I’ll do a lot of things in front of my daughter but hitting on a married man (with or without his spouse nearby) isn’t one of them. I was having fun with the person in the seat next to mine—gender was irrelevant.
The concert started slowly with Henley and Frey taking the stage for a song. Then one by one the rest of the band joined with each new tune they played. The voices were as clear, the harmonizing, pure perfection.
I have two favorite songs for two predictable reasons. “Peaceful Easy Feeling” because my first boyfriend told me the lyrics below reminded him of me.
I like the way you’re sparkling earrings lay
Against your skin so brown
And I wanna sleep with you in the desert tonight
With a billion stars all around
My skin was always caramel-colored in those baby-oil-instead-of-sunscreen years. My boyfriend and I didn’t sleep in the desert or anywhere else, but I thought about the possibility.
“Desperado” is favorite number two. I played that constantly when another boyfriend and I broke up. He didn’t want to be tied down with anyone, he told me. I was sure if he really listened to that song it would change everything.
You better let somebody love you, before it’s too late
We never got back together but I did run into him many years later and he said it was one of his biggest regrets. Isn’t it great when things like that happen? We never forget.
Morgan recorded me singing “Already Gone” for your listening pleasure (I even have a twang). Actually she sent it to Chelsea during the concert because that’s how they are.
I made sure to remind her she was hearing history during the lengthy “Hotel California” guitar riff. I’m not sure this tweet showed the awe I was hoping for.
Joe Walsh had obviously been working out. His muscular arms were unbelievable. I got a second contact high because people were lighting up inside MSG. Cyber fist bump for those rule breakers.
When the band pretended to finish and thanked everyone for attending, I reached into my bag for the only accessory more important than flip-flops, the Bic lighter. None of that idiotic cell phone waving crap for me. I rock the flame to ask for an encore. Several people around me were wowed. “Look, she’s using a lighter!” One guy said, “Oh yeah, the lighter. I forgot we did that.” You forgot? I almost asked if he’d considered fish oil pills.
I rode the subway home, buoyant from the experience. A friend, close in age, sent an email yesterday and said he’s got to start doing more fun things like going to concerts. I replied, “If not now, when?” Isn’t that how we all should live, regardless of age? Shouldn’t we forget about the right time to do things that bring us happiness? I have no idea why I didn’t see them before they broke up in 1980. And why not when they reunited in 1994-96? I probably thought it was frivolous to spend money on an expensive concert ticket when my daughters’ needs came first. But if I ever deserved a reprieve, it was then.
Why aren’t we more generous with ourselves and why don’t we take presented opportunities to grab all the fun we can, when we can? I still have thoughts like, I’ll go back to Italy when I’m in love. That’s ridiculous. I’m certain I’ll be in another relationship but why is that the joy-qualifier? I’m going to be conscious of my whens from now on and instead, like my friend, seek fun more often. I don’t care a lick if I live a long life but when it’s over, I want to have lived a big one. Something as simple as that concert contributed to the bigness and I will be more open to opportunities, instead of timing.
Before it’s too late.
“So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key” The Eagles “Already Gone” (Jack Tempchin, Robb Strandlund)
Great post Melani, you lucky gal! I adore The Eagles, always have, and Desperado is also one of my favorites. I recently saw Journey in concert and it was AWESOME. Their new singer sounds so much like Steve Perry. It seemed poetic somehow, as I recently turned 50 and Journey was the first rock concert I ever went to, way back in 1980! Keep on rockin’ Melani, I know I plan to. When does your book come out?
I LOVE Journey and saw them in the early 80s, too, Annette. I’ve heard the new singer and he’s unbelievable. I don’t know if I could tell the difference by vocals alone. Yours was a full-circle experience, indeed.
Thanks for asking about the book. I’m looking for a freelance editor to work with and after I make the decision It will probably be at least one round of editing (probably two). Promise all of you will be the first to know when it’s done. You keep on rockin’, too, Annette. Thanks for the comment!
Yay Melani! Sounds like the concert was great fun and you have the right spirit. I took myself downtown on Saturday to see the Degas/Cassatt exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. I asked several people to join me and no one wanted to share the experience. So I went alone and had a marvelous time. I never got whiny or complained or groaned when I circled the gift shop three times. I had the best time with a great woman of a certain age-ME. No more waiting around for someday or someone……..today is that day and I am that person.
Your date sounds both cultured and HOT, Cindy. Nothing sexier than a shopper, either.
I do lots of things alone and always enjoy myself. It’s nice to be the only one setting the agenda. I’ll have to Google the Degas/Cassatt exhibit. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Cindy. Keep dating that exceptional person. You won’t go wrong with that one.
Vivella Zapparoli says
What an enjoyable read Melani, it really took me back! I’m still a fan of the music I listened to then, but my all time favourite has always been Freddie Mercury. I will admit, I was totally surprised to read your comments about being over fifty (gobsmacked, ha ha). And here I thought I was all alone on the other side of the hill at 60. Jokes aside, all the time I have been reading your blog I honestly thought you were in your early/mid forties and you certainly dont look a day over that.
Happy I could take you back, Vivella. Queen is one of my favs, too. Freddie Mercury, sigh, what a loss.
Thank you so much for your kind assessment. Feeling gobsmacked 🙂 myself. Oh, to be early to mid forties again. The things I’d eat every day! So glad you commented, Vivella. You made my night.
So glad to have you back Melani. Great post. I saw The Eagles at the MGM in Las Vegas 3 years ago and they were fantastic. Me, I’m a Glenn Frey fan and we were close enough for me to see him tickling those ivories, swoon. Their songs bring back many memories and jeez how many guys want to say “Desperado” describes them to get out of commitment! What is it about The Eagles, black skinny jeans and fabulous shoes? From Life in the Fast Lane to After The Thrill is Gone, lyrics from Eagle tunes can describe times in my life from the the best to the bittersweet. Yeah you know I was singing every song too! By the way, I thought your singing sounded great – watch out Chaka Khan!!!
Haha, Tracy. Only we know the true meaning behind that Chaka Khan reference. I should write a blog post about it. Q: What do two friends do when one just got dumped? A: Sing and dance to Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” while drinking Bloody Marys.
I can’t imagine anyone going to an Eagles concert to simply listen. Singing along should be required. Glenn Frey is a lucky man to have a woman like you swoon. Thanks for making me laugh this morning.
Jennifer Clement says
Great writing, I just love reading your stories before I get out of bed, it’s always a great start to a new day!
You are so right, get up, get dressed and show up! It only takes a little effort for a lot of reward.
I’ll leave you with the words of a dear old friend of ours, “This isn’t a dress rehearsal ”
You’ve got that right, Jennifer. This is the one and only life we have right here, right now. Why waste it?
I’m happy to hear my stories give your mornings a good beginning. You are the perfect example of someone who gets up, gets dressed and shows up–usually with lots of laughter. That’s why it’s always fun to be around you. We’ve got to do that more often.
Sounds like a great time! I would love to see them and concert tickets are a great gift!
Bob Seger was my favorite concert, I never saw so many 50 something’s so happy! People were smiling going in and smiling even more leaving… and yes, people smoking inside of the arena we were in as well… lol
I’ve never seen Bob Seger, Anna, but I’m a big fan. I imagine the doobage was as plentiful, during his concert.
I couldn’t believe all the 50 somethings gathered in one spot, either. It was a smorgasbord of hot, age appropriate men. A great night, for sure. Thanks for the comment!
I saw Kid Rock a couple of years ago, he wins the prize for ‘most pot smoked at an indoor venue’ hands down! lol
THAT does not surprise me, Anna!
At last, a new post.
Love the Eagles, saw them twice during the 94-96 tour, with a long ago ex-girlfriend.
You need to go to more concerts; people light up inside everywhere.
You look mah-velous in black and denim. It’s no surprise your seatmate’s wife was jealous.
Already Gone is my favorite Eagles song; now I have a live video of it.
Interesting blog post on the Eagles documentary: http://grantland.com/features/the-eagles-greatest-hit/
Yeah, that is totally a “skincare device.”
Lucky you seeing them twice in 94-96, Magrooder. I do go to concerts–Jay Z, Alicia Keys, Robin Thicke, all at MSG and believe me, this was a whole different animal. The amount of pot, both out and inside the Garden was a flashback to long ago–Grateful Dead, Jethro Tull, Starship. Sure there’s always the occasional whiff at recent concerts, but never close to this pervasive.
You made me smile with the “jealous seat mate” comment. I really don’t think she was annoyed, but Morgan strongly disagrees. I laughed out loud when you questioned my skincare device. Sheesh, do you think I’m the sort of mother who would ask her daughters to buy sex toys?! That is horrifying and I’d like to state for the record that I would never ask the girls for that. Now, asking my friends…
Always good to hear from you, Magrooder. I’ll check out the link–thanks!
Lynn Scott says
I’ve had the same experience. Some of my most enjoyable evenings the past few years have been at concerts – either with a date or my adult kids. I usually listen to newer music, but the oldies: Chicago, Journey, Robbie Dupree and even Kid Rock give me a great deal of pleasure at a live venue. I think it’s because I feel a strange sense of accomplishment when I hear these groups. I’m reliving moments from my past as the music stirs my mind, yet my older and wiser self gets to sing/dance knowing I’ve made it through the gauntlet of life and am thriving. At times the weight of all we try to manage is oppressive. A concert reminds how important it is to do more than just plod through life, but to take time to listen to the music.
I’ve seen Chicago many times, Lynn, and it’s always a great concert. I love how you’ve described seeing the groups from your past, knowing you’ve made it through the rough stuff and are thriving. Beautifully stated. You are so right about doing more than just trudging through life, and the magic of listening to music. That’s how I felt last Thursday. Thank you, Lynn, for the insightful perspective.
Great post Mel….
What a coincidence! I went to see the History tour here in Amsterdam with my brother, sister and two of my best friends. I have seen them several times, but this concert was the best ever! Glad to see you enjoyed and loved to hear you sing Already gone!
Thanks, Jan! I thought about you each time I watched the documentary History of the Eagles. Every time Jackson Browne appeared I meant to email to ask if you’d seen it. (email Jan to see if he’s watched his fav). Of course, I forgot. Maybe I need fish oil pills? So cool that you saw them recently in Amsterdam.
I don’t know if you would’ve loved my singing through the entire concert, but I’m glad to hear you enjoyed Already Gone. Did I sing when we went to Norah Jones? (god, I hope not). I had a great time with the Eagles and it was exactly what I hoped for. Thanks for the comment, Jan. Always good to hear from you!
Fun post Mel and you look great but I’m with the Dude when it comes to the Eagles.. I remember when I knew I was an oldster when I saw the Pretenders a few years ago and there was no one under 40.. saw John Fogerty a few years ago and it was great.. played all those old great CCR songs and he was amazing… zipping back and forth across the stage and he was in his 60s.. pure inspiration.. rock on oldsters!!
Love the Pretenders–Brass in Pocket, Middle of the Road, and I’ll Stand By You–doesn’t get any better, David. And John Fogerty still owning that stage? Amazing. I was in awe when I saw Paul McCartney at Yankee Stadium (he was 70 at the time). He had boundless energy and I could’ve never kept that pace for an entire concert. Do you think they’re speeding? Sorry.
I enjoyed being at a concert with my contemporaries, and it sounds like you did, too. Thanks for the comment, David!
Hi Melani –
Thanks for your enjoyable post, the power of music and song to move us and to alter perception in a good way is quite wonderful. I recently went to a 3-day music festival in Wales (Festival #6 in Portmeirion – a spectacular venue) and I think there is nothing like live music to uplift and inspire. Your description of lighters, smoke and reference to a “contact high” reminds me of days and nights from many years ago and brings a smile. Thanks for the update about your big life and the intimate view into one fun day. I agree completely that there is no other way to approach and to live, maybe this is what wisdom really is – and I too am beginning to glimpse this. For me it is recognizing that life is completely and fully lived in the moment. Not living only for the moment, because we actually need to live for a full life and to make plans and commitments and recognize a continuity of issues such as this, but to live IN the moment totally, completely and fully engaged. You have this, and I think it is clear that you rock this! Thanks for the fun Melani.
Ha, thanks, Kern. I agree about living in the moment and it’s my biggest challenge. I spend the bulk of my life living in the past through writing. I’m always focused on what happened instead of what is happening. I think my next book should be a work of fiction. I like the thought of being free–absolutely unhindered by facts.
A music festival in Wales? How perfect is that sentence. Almost sounds like an Eagles lyric. I’m going to Goggle Festival #6 and check out what you experienced. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Kern, and reminding me again today that this moment is all we have.
This is funny because when I worked at Mohegan Sun, the Eagles were the most expensive tickets to be had. Over $200 per! But many times I thought they would be so worth it compared to the others. I would gladly pay the price.
It would have been our 25th wedding anniversary this week and I’m taking it harder than all holidays and birthdays. Probably because I will still celebrate holidays and birthdays in the future. We used to go to Provincetown, Mass on our anniversary. They are so pet friendly. My husband wasn’t a great husband but he was wonderful to my dogs. He put them first and that made me happy. Now I take care of my dogs alone. It was nice to talk about my dogs with someone who loved them as much as I do.
Yes, the Eagle tickets are expensive, Pam. I guess asking my daughters to buy three was a little obnoxious. Especially because neither was dying to see them perform. It explains their coin flip, ha.
I know what you mean about anniversaries. Difficult because it is a day that’s uniquely a couple’s to celebrate. How nice that you would go to Provincetown with your doggies and despite his shortcomings as a husband it is beautiful that you are able to acknowledge his good parts. I’ve gotten to a place now that our wedding anniversary doesn’t hurt, in fact I sometimes forget. Now it’s the moments I don’t see coming that stir up a memory and that can still hurt. I might pass a man on the street who’s wearing my husband’s fragrance and I feel that pit in my stomach, sometimes even tears. Just part of the process, I guess, and I’m happy to say it rarely happens anymore.
Thank you for commenting, Pam, and I’m sorry you had the anniversary trigger. I’m glad you have your dogs for comfort. There’s nothing better than their unconditional love during hard times. Good times, too, of course. 🙂
Sure, you were just having fun with the man beside you, but all his wife could see is a very hot blonde with killer smile. I’ll bet she even guessed that your legs were shaved and ready to go 🙂
I love the Eagles too. In my misspent youth, there was a period of time that I got together every Friday or Sat night with the same group of friends, had a couple of beers, sometimes shared a joint, listened to music, and munched on chicken wings, fries, etc. The Eagles were ALWAYS on the play list. Another favorite was Marvin Gaye.
Great moral to the story, Melani – that we need to be more generous to ourselves and grab all the fun we can. I know it applies to me!
Finally, that poor Desperado boyfriend. It was “one of his biggest regrets” and I can understand why. But it must have made you smile a little on the inside as you were desperately trying to stifle the smile on the outside.
Another great read. Thanks!
You are too kind, Tim. 🙂 I kind of think Morgan told me that so I would settle down and act my age. She’s been cramping my style since she could talk.
Beer, wings, fries and the Eagles–sounds like a perfect way to spend a Friday or Saturday night of my misspent middle age. I’m a huge fan of wings and haven’t found a good place in the city. I’m going to Las Vegas in a few weeks and that is on my must-eat list.
Yes, I absolutely smiled (on the inside) with Desperado, but I told him I hoped we would always be friends. That was a long, long time ago (my misspent youth) and we’re still friends, actually.
Thanks for your wonderful comment, Tim. Your words made me smile and laugh. I really appreciate it.