|Joe Lesté works the mic and the crowd.|
Monday, May 8, 2017
From Bellicose to Varicose
One minute of time from the 2017 M3 Music Festival
I stood in a throng of metal fans, their heads nodding in unison agreement with the driving beat of Bango Tango. It was Saturday afternoon. The band was pounding out the middle of their set but my attention was on the stinging sunburn I scored cheap at the tailgate party the day before. It was the kind of burn that air hurts.
A bobbing motion a few feet in front of me in the crowd caught my eye. Pigtails. A petit teen with auburn hair was casually bouncing to the beat. She wore a black leather miniskirt, a top that seemed mostly made of mesh, and a combination of black boots and socks. A blue tattoo peaked out from behind one sock’s edge. She seemed a bit young for the setting despite the venue’s mixed age audience. I let the moment drop to the side bringing my eyes back to the stage, but as soon as I did something nagged at me about her. I looked at her again searching for what I saw - but didn’t see the first time.
Her auburn hair was laced with unruly silver strands that refused to conform with their neighbors. A quick glimpse of her profile showed her eyes were circled by black eyeliner that dipped into a fine web of shallow wrinkles around their edges. The spell broke like a bubble collapsing under its own weight. The “teen” was actually a middle-aged woman. My re-assessment even caught that the “ink” on her calf was varicose veins. How I could have been so completely wrong? She continued to move with the music oblivious to the perceptual whiplash she had just given me. She swayed with grace and lightness, a motion that spoke of being present in the moment without any other thought. She was surrounded by people yet completely unto herself, like a child in a world of their own creation. No, it was more. Her demeanor bore no weight of responsibility. No obligations. No burdens. She was not acting the role of a teen. She was not recapturing her past at a concert. She was simply and totally in the moment. And in that, her physical age became as meaningless as counting rain drops in a storm or trying to divine the philosophical meaning of a sunrise. She was young again from being free of the burden of meaning and the importance of importance.
I wondered about the life she lived outside the festival but only for second. She was a good teacher. I turned again to the stage letting my body sway to the efforts of guitar and drum carrying a secret smile, hoping no one saw me stealing a glance at this girl in pigtails who obviously was too young to be here on her own.