"Why are you so edgy, lately?" he asked.
"Our daughter, the child who's supposed to be on the pink team with me," I responded, "asked if I'm old. She observed 'crunks' on my face."
"Crunks?" he quizzed.
"Yes, lines, creases, wrinkles," I translated. "Do you know I turn 38 in November? What have I accomplished, other than mastering the daily grind?" I looked at my hands resting in my lap. "I think I'm having a midlife crisis."
"You're not old enough," he tried to mollify me.
I argued, "None of us know where we are on our personal timelines. I could have passed the halfway mark years ago, without feeling the bump."
A dark silence fell. This particular field of thought unnerved my optimistic-against-all-odds spouse.
"I don't just want to leave my mark on the world," I eventually continued. "That's for sissies. I want to kick a dent so deep that the sands of time can't ever fill it."
What can a man say after his wife confesses such deep discontent with the status quo? The subject dropped off an invisible cliff.
No doubt, however, it preyed upon my husband, gnawing at his sensibilities. For my birthday, he decided to thump me out of my funk, and surprised me with tickets to a Def Leppard show. Like a hypnotist, he wanted to take me back, before children, before marriage, before college, before I acknowledged my mortality.
After balking, I gave in and purchased my gig gear, one blue lighter, shoved it deep in my pocket, threw my fists in the air, thumbs, index fingers, and pinkies extended, and exclaimed, "Let's rock!"
In the dark coliseum, Def Leppard's drums and bass guitar vibrated my chest cavity, forever altering my cardiac rhythm. The crowd of 30- and 40-somethings roared in response to the lyrics, "Is anybody out there?!!!" I held a flame over my head, swaying; a concert ritual that I honestly don't understand, and that most fans have given up, tendering illuminated cell phones instead.
"No matter," I impatiently said to the temporarily suppressed practical matron creeping around my psyche, who annoyingly kept rapping on my skull and asking why old guitar players wear their hair so big and have loops of chain dangling from their pants, and why every song includes the word 'rock' in some form, and complaining about the dangers of fireballs shooting from the stage.
Seeing me caught in the moment, my spouse leaned in and yelled, "We're so cool! We're rebels! It's a Thursday night! We have to work tomorrow!"
"We're not cool if we have to say we're cool," I shouted back, fumbling for the lighter, wishing to restore my concert persona.
He attempted to erase his faux pas. "Let's get tattoos after this!"
"Pour some sugar on me . . .," I sang louder.
Walking through the corridor after the encore, still mouthing, "It's better to burn out, yeah, than fade away . . .," we passed the t-shirt booth. Eyes always peeled, my spouse spotted a pair of black, leather, thong-style, band panties, hanging on the display. With a grin on his face and his wallet out, he bumped me with his elbow and pointed.
"Considering the average age of the crowd," I dryly retorted, "they ought to sell big, white granny-panties."
No, the event didn't ease my need for cracking the earth wide open, but Def Leppard did rock our aging faces off, with a lot less expense and pain than plastic surgery. And I thank my ever faithful mate for putting the funky in my birthday funk.