The first full day that I owned a driver’s license with an X for the gender and no part of my birth name on it, I went to see a band named X with a lead singer named John Doe with a ticket I had not purchased.
From the time I parked to the time I drove off, I spoke only a few words.
To the Guest Relations representative working their way through the line outside, asking if I was going to be drinking inside, I said, “Sure” and showed them my driver’s license, poked up a third of the way out of my wallet. I’m not sure they even saw the date, and the (apparent) woman behind me in line, who was about my age (give or take a decade), joked that the license seemed suspicious, but at 54 I’ve more than lapped 21 once already and it didn’t matter one whit to the Guest Relations representative working their way through the line outside.
To a vendor I explained the shirts I wanted, one for me and one for the friend whose ticket I had, and even in that short exchange I stammered, as if words were foreign invaders that couldn’t quite fit inside my mouth correctly.
And to a bartender, I said “Angry Orchard”, which is how I soothed the anxiety of being alone at my first concert in over a decade, while the world was still muddling through yet another wave of COVID. These were my last words spoken until I got home again.
While we were milling around, I heard a man tell another man that he only had one gray hair on his head, even though he had many gray hairs on his chest, and I wondered how many gray hairs he had on his soul. Right on cue, he started talking about his retirement investment account.
I had been worried about looking not trendy enough, but here I was waiting for a punk rock group to play and I was surrounded by men in polos and cargo shorts who were looking like they were waiting for their tee time.
At this point, my own polo was covered by a black t-shirt of a smiling demon who was reminding me that I must not think bad thoughts, and later when the band played I found myself wishing I was instead wearing Exene’s dress and her leather jacket embroidered with roses.
And since she is now and will always be twelve years my elder, that can be my life goals, while the polo and the IRA talk can be for the others, who are really there for the headliner, which was not X and not even punk.