“Eight bucks” the bouncer said as we walked up to the door. I pulled some cash out of my back pocket and passed him a twenty. He handed me my change and we walked into the dark, smoky club. After the five dollars for parking and the sixteen just to get in, I had nineteen left for the evening.
We did a quick search and found our friends sitting at the bar. Hugs, hellos, and introductions were exchanged as we tried to melt into a crowd that we were no longer really a part of. What used to be a regular night out suddenly felt so strangely unfamiliar.
We sat at the bar empty-handed while everyone around us chugged beer after beer and inhaled their sticks of nicotine. I chatted with my friend, who I used to call my best friend. I watched as the band set up on stage and felt out of place. At one time I was part of the process, but now I barely know the band members’ names.
I finally ordered myself a drink, because my throat was dry and getting sore from the smoke. I wasn’t really in the mood for alcohol, but the other option was a Diet Pepsi so I ordered a fruity mixed drink to sip on.
I checked my phone for the time and saw that I had a missed call. I escaped to the bathroom where the smoke wasn’t so thick and it was amazingly silent. I called my mom back hoping that nothing was wrong because she had called almost an hour before. It turns out she had only called to let me know that the boy had settled down right after we left. He had watched another episode of his favorite show and was sound asleep in bed. For a moment I longed to be there with him. I hung up the phone, glanced at his picture on the screen quickly before I closed it, and returned to the bar. The band would start playing soon.
As we scoured the crowd, we saw more people that we knew and went over to say hello. We chatted for a few minutes and the band finally took the stage. It had been a while since we had seen them play and it was obvious how much they had improved since the last time. As always, the singer was an amazing front man and the rest of the guys were tight, supporting him perfectly. It was a great performance.
There was an older man, probably in his sixties or even seventies, dancing and grooving in front of the stage. His son, watching from the side explained that his father was a musician and that he just needed to be around the music. You could see the joy and love in his eyes as he watched the older man sway back and forth and shake his hands to the beat.
The rest of the crowd was the same as it always is. There were the young girls wearing tight t-shirts and even tighter jeans, trying to show off their best assets. There were the stoners and the bar dwellers who were so far gone they probably couldn’t even hear the music. There were the hard rock boys trying to prove they were more hard core than the ones beside them. There was the 30’s crowd, trying hard to fit in among the youngsters. And then, there were the parents of the band members who stood out with their band t-shirts and gray hair.
The first band’s set ended. I congratulated the guys on their performance and watched as they tore down the stage. I really was proud of them. They have come a long way since I first saw them play together almost a year ago. I’m still not sure they are better than the last band my friend was a part of, but they seem to be hitting the scene at a better time. They have had much more success.
Hubby and I stood there, talking mostly to each other while we waited for the next band to set up and start playing. They would be the second of four, and while we weren’t necessarily interested in them, we thought the third band was worth waiting for.
A few minutes into the second band’s set we had to give up our prime spots at the table near the stage. The sound coming from the speakers was excruciating and we just couldn’t take it anymore. We found our friends near the back of the bar and joined them for a while. Once again it seemed as though we were outsiders. The crowd that we used to hang out with religiously had changed. We found ourselves standing there just talking to each other again.
The second set finally ended and I was tempted to leave, but figured the next band would start up soon and I really wanted to see them. They had impressed me when I had seen them before so I figured it would be worth the wait. It seemed like an eternity while we waited for them to take the stage. The equipment was all set up and the band was ready to go, but for some reason they were putting them off for a while. Perhaps if I was younger, or if I was drinking more, I wouldn’t have minded the wait.
The band finally started playing. By this point Hubby and I were leaning up against the wall. We were tired. We could barely breathe from the smoke and my calves and feet were aching from my poor choice in footwear. About half way through the second song, I turned to Hubby and let him know that I was ready to leave whenever he was. Within five minutes, we had said good-bye to our friends and were out the door.
The alarm went off entirely too early Sunday morning. I awoke to the stench of the smoke from the night before. I tried not to move my head too much for fear of jostling my hair and releasing more of the putrid smell. I heard my son chattering away in his room and hopped up to give him his morning hug and kiss. I wanted to shower first, but I couldn’t resist telling him good morning. The smile on the boy’s face when I entered his room was better than the entire previous night. I picked him up and snuggled him tightly before turning on his morning cartoons.
I think next time I’ll choose a night in with my boys instead of a night rocking out in a smoky bar. Snuggling on the couch with a bowl of popcorn may not have sounded like much of a luxury a few years ago, but now I can’t imagine anything better. It is funny how fast your priorities can change.