Wednesday, July 6, 2011

No one can hear you scream

But that doesn't matter. The important thing is that I am screaming. And so is my 16 year old son. We are standing next to each other, looking each other full in the face, and screaming as loudly as as we are able. They are screams of amazement and delight and pure intense emotion that cannot be expressed in words. No one can hear us over the ambient noise, but we continue to scream until we resolve into laughter and exhilaration.

We are at the Wachovia Center, in the third row--I can't say we are sitting, because only a dead man could possibly sit at a time like this--and mere feet away, Pete Townshend's arm is windmilling over the strings of his guitar. We are so close we can see the part in Roger Daltrey's curls, now gray. Zak Starkey? He is hidden, hunched over his drum kit and blocked from view by the keyboardist, whoever that might be. The amazing lyrics of "Won't Be Fooled Again" swirl around us and I am convinced that Townshend is an absolute genius. Who else wrote social critique that was salient in the 70's and is still so appropriate in these waning days of Bush 43's administration? (Well, other than Douglas Adams?)

It's a little time-warping to be with my son as he discovers The Who for the first time, and I recall loving them way back when (I am still addicted to "Squeeze Box" with its humorous double-entendre lyrics). But I cherish the experience; it's a bridge between us. We don't need to be fixed to the roles of parent and child; we can be two people of diverse ages thrilled by the same experience.

Ending up in the third row was a bit of miracle as well. We bought our tickets last minute, and as thrifty folks opted for the affordable seats in the rafters. It's all about the acoustics, right? We commuted to the arena with a group of friends who would be sitting directly across the chasm from us. Once inside, the five of us (son, niece, their two friends, and I) peeled off to find our seats in the caverns; strolling down an alcove we were stopped by an usher.

"How many in your group? Five? Wait here." He went to consult with a supervisor standing nearby.

OK. We waited, curious. Had we done something wrong?

"Here, take these. Even exchange." The usher handed us five tickets to replace the ones we held. "Go down this hall, take a left..." I only half heard the directions. We descended two levels and milled around until we found another usher.

"May I see your tickets? Ah, right here." With a flattened palm he waved us down a short hallway. "You're in row C. Enjoy the show."

When you are close enough to feel Roger's can you NOT enjoy the show? We spotted our friends in the upper altitudes of the arena and waved sheepishly. They waved back, good sports despite their envy.

I wonder if I can trust my luck once again, three years later. Bob Dylan is coming to Philly next month, and we want to see him before he's dead.

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