Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ben Folds - A Parental Tale

THIS HAPPENED ALMOST A MONTH AGO, BUT IT WAS TOO PRICELESS TO NOT CAPTURE ON THE BLOG... (it was, however, not priceless enough to be captured by photograph.)

A few months ago, we were at dinner with my parents and my dad mentioned Ben Folds was coming to Salt Lake. And then he REALLY dropped the cool dad bomb when he said he wanted to go. I was, of course, thoroughly impressed by his hipness and relieved that of all the music that came floating up the stairs in my youth, we were conversing about Ben Folds and not some of my album purchase mishaps (including, but not limited to, 98 Degrees and Chumbawumba). Even still, I did feel it my duty to point out Ben's sometimes gratuitous use of four letter verbiage. Dad countered with a very convincing, "but they were advertising through Rotary, I would imagine it's going to be pretty family friendly. Plus, it's for charity."

Convincing logic indeed. And with it, began an odd sense of role reversal.

The evening of the concert, I found myself wanting to somehow protect my parents from being exposed to all the evils this world can dole out. And I started worrying about all the things I'm sure parents worry about for their kids' sake.

Curfew. I'm sure the lion's share of the crowd was fine with the onslaught of opening acts. It is, after all, part of the experience. And it's the method by which many concert-goers identify those no-name bands who haven't sold out yet and in three years one can talk about the time they saw {insert obscure band name here} and then made the band's first iTunes purchase or something epic like that. However, I felt a twinge of guilt every time I turned to my parents to confirm that no, in fact, that is NOT Ben yet. After the schizophrenic stylings of one opening act, and one profanity-laced sing-a-long dedicated to Tiffani Amber Thiessen, it was high time for Ben to get out there and start croonin'. Seriously Ben, let's get this show on the road. One of your fans out here needs to teach 2nd grade in the morning.

Profanity. Concerts in Utah are always interesting to me on this front. Basically a lot of adolescents proving they aren't conforming to the "Utah man" by applauding profanity and complying with the band's power of persuasion by joining in on the aforementioned profanity-laced TAT sing-a-long. I know - irony duly noted. But Mom and Dad, you will notice - I did not applaud those songs.

Drugs. At one point, my dad stepped outside for some fresh air. But a few minutes later, the smell that wafted in from the out of doors told me if Dad was really breathing deeply out there, Mom probably ought to drive home.

Promiscuity. Admittedly, there wasn't a whole lot of this. Just the girl next to my parents who was completely interested in her beau's neck and equally uninterested in the concert. She wasn't scandalous, really. Just awkward.

I should point out that none of my anxiety on my parents' behalf was actually spurred by their reactions to the evening. They were totally great sports about the whole experience. And though I spotted a few others from Mark and Julie's generation enjoying the tunes, they were doing so from the posh surroundings of the Saltair "suites" - not being thrashed around by hoardes of Foldsies. Posers.

I should also point out that in spite of my anxiety on my parents' behalf, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening. It was fun to relive memories attached to songs that span more than a decade. From 7th grade in Alison H.'s mom's car when Kaitlin did a finger puppet dance to select tracks and in 8th grade, racing the volume button to edit "Army" as we rocked out in Joey*'s room. And my freshman year of college, when I burned a copy of Mike R.*'s "Rockin' the Suburbs" and took it to the Fieldhouse to listen to on my (oh yeah) discman. And listening to "Gracie" in the TSC with Jeff H.* as we crammed for our accounting final. Sad that most of my more recent album memories are associated with ellipticals and financial reports. But, memories nonetheless.

*I feel compelled to point out that none of these are former flings. I was not recounting a list of old boyfriends as I stood near my sweetheart at the concert. And Joey isn't even a boy.


Michelle and Trace said...

Alison! This is Michelle Hansen (Christensen) from 0-town. Just found your blog and wanted to drop a note and say hi! You probably already know this but Mary Clinger is home from her mission! Her farewell is on Sunday(the 25th). Have a great day! P.S. I dare say that you are one of the most entertaining writers I have ever encountered!

lauren said...

oh how i heart the ben. and how i miss ben folds five. i remember not being able to go to his concert when he came here in march of 2002 because i had just gotten my wisdom teeth out AND had a stupid choir concert, and of course all of my friends that went met him. so, convinced i had missed my shot of seeing him locally, i made the sojourn to las vegas to see him there. it was an amazing show. and it breaks my heart i missed him this time, but i can always hope he comes back. bless your parents' hearts.

Claire said...

I love your parents! And... um... did you say 98 degrees was a MISTAKE? I'm pretty sure that was a typo.....

LW said...

Concerts with parents...brings me back to the time when I was 12, and I begged my mom and dad to take me and a friend to the Lilith Fair. It was basically the four of us, Sarah McLachlan, and 2,000 very, um, "butch" women. P.S. Alison I was a fellow PLC-er with Noah but didn't get to meet you at the reunion, so hi!

Whitney said...

i love this post because before the concert you were telling me about your dad talking you into the concert saying the curse words would be censored! sounded like you guys had so much fun!

cacrowell said...

This is a classic--you wrote it out all so well and it made me laugh! Wouldn't that be great if they did censor those "creative" words.