Pop Rock Groupie Wannabe
I started my day as a responsible adult. I ended my day as a crazed groupie, speeding through downtown Durham with my stilettos pressed to the accelerator in pursuit of an ’80s rock band.
I’d be mortified by my behavior, but this was Duran Duran. The pop idols of my youth were directly ahead of me in their shuttle. I could see the outlines of their heads, for heaven’s sake.
I can’t count the times I belted out “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio” into a kitchen beater-turned-microphone. When I could get the beater, that is. There were only two beaters, and my sisters and I raced to get them. The unlucky slowpoke had to make do with a wooden spoon. We called our band the Beater Sisters. We were very cool.
Besides my teenage infatuation with Duran Duran, I was gaga over James Bond. When Duran Duran landed the theme song for the Bond movie “A View to a Kill,” it was like putting together chocolate and peanut butter.
After the movie came out, I absurdly identified with Grace Jones, the villain, and tried to imitate her style. It wasn’t easy for me to emulate the lean, black-skinned Jamaican with mile-high cheekbones. I did my best, theatrically rouging my cheeks and donning an oversize jacket with giant shoulder pads. Again, I was very cool.
The day before Duran Duran’s tour stop in Durham last month, my friend Kalista called to tell me her husband suggested she take me instead of him.
I have to hand it to him. He bowed out by telling her she would have more fun with me. The dude made it sound like he was doing her a favor.
Meanwhile, he and my husband were planning a golf outing for that evening. Genius.
I accepted the invitation eagerly. The very thought had me feeling like a teenager off to dance the night away at a rock concert. Not that I knew what that was like. My parents didn’t allow me to go to concerts.
I once pleaded with them to let me see hard rocker Robert Plant in Charlotte. They said no and instead encouraged me to go to Carowinds amusement park, where Christian singers Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant were performing. Did I mention how cool I was?
Here I was, two decades later, about to revisit my youth. This time I would be singing my Duran Duran favorites a mere four rows away from the band.
I borrowed my husband’s convertible (you can’t take a mom car to a rock concert), and Kalista and I were off to Durham. When we arrived at the venue, we brushed off the crumbs of the Goldfish crackers we ate in the car and sashayed to our seats. Well, Kalista sashayed. I bounced like Tigger, energized by all the other 30- and 40-something women time-traveling back to our youth.
It was a good thing Kalista’s husband bowed out; he would have felt very out of place with the other men — both of them — among the screaming women.
The concert was rad. Gnarly. Boss. Totally tubular. Or, to put it in non-’80s lexicon: It was great. We didn’t want the night to end. Which is, I guess, how we ended up in the parking garage idling the car in wait for the band’s exit.
We heard the whoops of fans before we saw the shuttle. The van rounded the corner, and I went into gear. The chase was on. Our hair fluttered in the breeze of the convertible. We were cool and chic. I may even have imagined myself in a Bond movie.
I never saw James Bond stop for a traffic light, though. Which is what I did, causing us to lose the van. Kalista and I looked at each other and burst into laughter, exhilarated from the chase. I knew we couldn’t catch up with the band, but when the light turned green, I gunned the car anyway.
Tomorrow, I’d be a responsible person. Tonight, I was a pop rock groupie.
Melanie Coughlin may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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