Every time I interview myself in the bathroom mirror while applying make up, don’t judge, you know you do it, too, I always as me the same question: Where DO you come up with your material?
Well, me, the answer is simple, really. My life is my source.
As an audio engineer, that’s right, it only took about 91 posts before I finally got to what I “do” for a living. Huzzah. I am lucky enough to go to work every day in a field most people categorize in their checking account “where my money goes” pie chart as entertainment or social activities. I get to witness, soberly, a lot of interesting human interactions, as well as be classically jaded by all genres of music, or some groups that can only be classified as “experimental noise.” My position also awards me a horrible amount of power and control over the success or failure of an entire roomful of people’s evenings. As the 2003 production team of “Annie Get Your Gun” figured out the hard way, giving someone like me control over a substantial group of individuals is rarely a good idea. It’s not often that a stage manager as cute as me could make so many people want to kill themselves. I’m one of a kind, really. But even setting my own role in this aside for just a moment, concerts really do make for a truly awful first date.
First dates are awkward as a general rule. Three hours beforehand, you never know where exactly the line is between dressed up and dressed down enough to strike the perfect impression on a gentleman caller. If I wear a dress, I run the risk of him wearing jeans and I look stupid. If I wear jeans and he’s more dressed up, and then we go to a fancy restaurant, again, I’ll look stupid. Fancy meaning, a place that isn’t…Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café? Think Denny’s, but punk rock and not gross. And they have beer. So once you finally give up on the entire notion of getting the right outfit, you have to worry about what you’re going to talk about. Because it’s a first date and you have to talk about something, right? Well, if you’re first date is at a concert or some kind of music festival, freaking forget it. You won’t be able to hear his response anyway. You know why? Because if I’m doing my job, I make sure of that.
So take away the conversation, and what do you have? Two relative strangers swaying awkwardly next to each other, both afraid to get too into the music and end up looking like an idiot, but still trying to pay enough attention to what’s going on just so you don’t sing the wrong lyrics. Which then turns into a head-to-head version of that terrible game show, “Don’t Forget the Lyrics.” What happened to you, Wayne Brady? So now a first date has turned into a credibility test and lyrical competition, and it’s too loud for even the occasional witty banter. No one walks away from something like that unscathed. NO ONE.
Another pitfall of the concert first date? Shoes. Concerts usually involve a lot of standing if you’re doing it right, and that’s the kiss of death for most girls. Why? Because a woman’s main source of confidence is her chosen footwear. I have spent more hours agonizing over which pair of shoes to wear than any allotted amount of time worrying about what I’m going to wear with them. Once I’ve chosen the shoes, I work the rest of the outfit around them. My go-to first date shoes are usually my truly amazing, and understated Steven Madden ankle boots. But when you introduce the element of 3-4 hours of standing around time, those boots are out. Because even for as wonderful as they are, four hours of standing around in them might actually kill me. And I refuse to be the first person to be taken out by a pair of shoes, even if they are Steve Madden. So now I’m wearing converse, and my last ditch attempt at mustering up my aloof, coy persona is DOA. Sure, I rock the converse pretty regularly, and I bet I was wearing them when Mr. DumbDateIdea asked me out, but that’s different. That was spontaneous and casual. This is not. But it is now. In one big swoop, before we’ve even gone out, I’m annoyed and uncomfortable. Really good going, dude.
So that’s where we are. Pairs of awkward people in stupid shoes pretending like they care about whatever band is on stage so much that they couldn’t possibly tear their eyes away. And then there’s me, standing behind a console generating a disgusting amount of heat, and I’ve already been dealing with these bullshit musician-types for about three hours prior to the first-daters arrival. I’m not happy. I’m disgruntled, mildly sweaty, and sleepy. And if I’m not happy, why in the world would I want anyone else to be happy?
So I will see your awkward swaying, and raise you an almost-painful decibel wall of sound. Just call me Phil Spector, right down to the “might be a serial killer” tendencies. I hear you, Hipster McGee, talking about finding the sweet spot of the room. She looks impressed, but I know the truth. You’re a moron. The sweet spot of the room is exactly where I’m standing. Because I have the mutes and faders and equalizers. What do you have? An ugly sweatervest/pretentious Dockers combo and dollar store earplugs. And Captain Sweetspot-Sweatervest says something like, “I found these guys before they were anything.” And I can’t believe GenericDate SecondChoiceToms is still standing next to him. Before they were anything? Look around you. This place is only just bigger than my studio apartment. They’re still not really anything. There’s not even anyone else here. You’re standing in the middle a moderately empty room, you putz. My advice? Shut up and just buy her another beer before she realizes your Buddy Holly glasses don’t even have lenses.
First dates should be in quiet places, places with distractions, but not overwhelming ones. Not concerts. Sure, it seems like a really romantic, creative thing, but you’ll crash and burn before you can even fork over the cover charge. Save the concert date for a three-month anniversary or something, you know, when you have run out of things to say to each other anyway.