Thursday, July 2, 2015

Personal Space

I have a thing about personal space. It's very important to me, which is a bit ironic since I grew up in New York City. In NYC — unless you're a Vanderbilt, a Rockefeller or a Rothschild — personal space is hard to come by. From a real estate perspective, that is. 

It's even harder to negotiate on public transportation at rush hour.

Prior to my recent high school reunion, some of my classmates posted their favorite (and especially not-so-favorite) memories. Many of them commuted into Manhattan each day from one of the other boroughs. Most of us remember the perverts on the 1970s subways who used the crowded cars as an excuse to crowd their private parts up against high school student bodies. In seventh grade health ed, one of the first things we learned was how to stay safe. One particular teacher explained that all the inappropriate touching masked a deep desire for anonymity. These creeps counted on our doing and saying nothing to draw attention to them. Her suggestion? If we found a man's hand suddenly groping our ass, we should grab it, hold it high and loudly ask "Whose hand is this?" She assured us the man — and his hand — would soon slink away.

Thankfully, I never had to resort to that tactic. But, I certainly had my share of close encounters in those days.

These days, as an adult who can control her environment most of the time, I cherish my space. If you're a friend or family, a colleague or classmate, I will very happily hug and kiss you. But, if you're some stranger in a sweaty subway car, please please please keep your distance. Please.

So you can imagine how happy I was to find myself on the floor of the TD Bank Garden last night. When we arrived at 7:30, there was still a semblance of breathing room. By the time the headlining band started at 9:30, not so much. Very soon we were packed like proverbial sardines. There wasn't any groping going on (at least none that I noticed and certainly none aimed at me — not a surprise, really, since I was about 25-30 years older than the average concert goer).

But, there were other indignities.

Let me back up for a moment and explain how I happened to be there. My daughter had plans to see Imagine Dragons (a favorite) with a bestie. However, said bestie had a conflict and suddenly my daughter was stuck with two general admission tickets. She texted everyone she could think of, but no one was available at such short notice. So, she came to me with Plan A.

"I could go by myself," she said. "I'd be safe."

My immediate answer was no. She immediately transitioned to Plan B.

"Would you go with me?"

As countless people have observed, I'm just a mom who can't say no. We ate a quick dinner, fed the dog, and headed to Boston.

Which leads me to the aforementioned other indignities.

Over-the-Top Parking — One we got into town, we passed a lot a couple of blocks from the Garden. I pulled in, thinking it would be a deal. "$40, thank you," said the young attendant. "$40? No thank you!" said I. My daughter shot me the first of many 'Please don't embarrass me' looks. We ended up under the Garden for $45, which was slightly more convenient. In addition to paying the additional $5 though, it probably took us an extra 40 minutes to negotiate the traffic around the venue after the show. Ugh.

The Special General Admission Entrance — Once we parked, we had to leave the Garden to go back into the Garden through a special entrance. We then walked up 5 or 6 flights of stairs (which felt like 7 or 8) to get our wristbands. "How are you tonight?" asked the jovial wristband guy. "Winded," I quipped. "There's oxygen on the next level," he quipped back. Our little exchange earned me another look.

Warm-Up Bands — My daughter was very excited to see the first of the two opening acts: Halsey. And, she was really very impressive. But, the second band was less so. Actually, that's not entirely true. I was impressed with the way the lead singer seemed to channel a howling chihuahua.

(I don't think I was the target audience. But, in my defense, I was also not the only middle-aged mother there.)

Sticky Floors — Neither my daughter nor I bought so much as a soda, but I think we carried an entire keg home on the soles of our shoes.

Weapons of Facial Destruction, a.k.a. Hair — This was truly the most annoying part of an evening that (let's face it) wouldn't have been my first choice (or second or third). A young woman next to me had her pretty blond hair in a high ponytail. That's her business, right? It's a free country, right? The problem was that every time she turned to look at the stage or the crowd or a friend or ... well ... pretty much anything, that ponytail whipped across my face. 

In all fairness, Imagine Dragons were terrific! They put on an excellent show and were genuinely happy to be there. Such nice, appreciative boys, I have to give them credit even if my feet were killing me by the time they got to the handful of hits I recognized. We left about 11:00 and rolled sleepily into our already sleeping town at about 12:15 a.m.

As I've said, it wouldn't have been at the top of my list, but I survived. Like Imagine Dragons, I found myself feeling appreciation too.

I may not have been at the top of my daughter's list, but I enjoyed (most of) my time in her personal space.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my book  Lovin' the Alien at 

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