Last year for my birthday, my husband took me to see Def Leppard, to thump the funk out of getting another year older. As my birthday approached this year, I realized I must do something, again, that upsets the balance of time. My spouse made it especially urgent when he told me, very innocently (but not forgiven), "You know, you still look pretty good for a woman almost 40."
First of all, I'm almost 39, not 40. There's a big difference; an enormous difference. A chasm separates the two.
Second of all, why the qualifier, almost 40? It made it as much a compliment as, "For a woman, I find you adequate."
Regardless, it all culminated in putting me completely out of my element at the Aonia (A-on-ya) Motor Pass last Friday night. My one-and-only planned a nifty outing for us to a country music concert.
I came of age in the 80s, listening to U2, The Police, and The Cure; then in the 90s, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Hootie. A Willie Nelson concert, back in third grade (1978), with my daddy, rounds out my country-western resume.
So when my husband announced we had V.I.P. tickets to see Tracy Lawrence, I naturally asked, very innocently (but not forgiven), "Who's she?" He shrugged his shoulders at me, not even dignifying my implied stupidity with a response.
We arrived at the outdoor venue in time to catch the band, 17 South, that preceded the headliner. The lead singer, Tony Cannon, works for my husband. He helped install the new sprinkler system in my front yard two weeks ago. During 17 South's set, a hundred girls swarmed the stage, hands reaching, hearts swooning.
About the time I thought they might start flinging their unmentionables, my groom confessed in my ear, "I almost feel guilty that I've got this guy digging trenches for me. He's good."
Instead of sarcastically replying, "Do you mean he's good for a guy who digs ditches?" I held my tongue and said, "You better use him while you got him, because I think I hear Nashville calling." Truly, I need Tony to come back to my yard and sign his work, or, at the very least, the shovel he used to do it.
Next, Tracy Lawrence hit the boards. Tracy, drum roll, please, is a man; a man who greeted the crowd with, "It's great to be in South Carolina." When expected cheers did not swell and surge, he lit into another song, after which he attempted again to rouse the crowd with, "South Carolina sure looks good from here, y'all!" A mild applause returned. Finally, a stagehand held up a scrap of paper. On it, he had scrawled, WE ARE IN GEORGIA.
Although Mr. Lawrence looked like he received a punch to the gut, I was greatly relieved, since I had begun questioning my hearing, my memory, my orientation to time and place. Tracy and I shared a simultaneous turning point.
While he scrambled to get back in good graces with the crowd, my beloved slid his hand into the back pocket of my jeans. The boom of the backbeat vibrated melodiously in my chest. A man who identified himself as Wild Bill felt compelled to bring me beverages. I made it to the front of the stage, where the bass guitarist stretched out and touched my hand, and a fellow gave me a sheet of the official play list.
And time did a stutter-step, hesitating long enough for me to feel pretty good for a woman pushing 40.