Live in the now! (Why won’t my husband stop talking about crappy music?) Part II


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The architecture of The Great Saltair has always reminded me of a cheap imitation of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Russia. Each corner had a pillar that was topped with a colorful, Hershey Kiss shaped tip. Saltair is well out of town, about 40 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City, and we got to the show a little late. One of the bands was already playing. It was dark but for the stage lights. And as we walked into the crowd, I recall feeling an urgency to make the best of every moment we had at the show. 
The Great Saltair
The first thing I did was search for an open circle in the crowd filled with teens beating the hell out of each other: themosh pit. I never played sports in high school. I never knew what it was like to slam into another man, or to over power him, and then steal the ball. Mosh pits were my only opportunity to feel what it was like to throw my weight around. They were chaotic and violent and few things remind me more of my carefree youth. 
I’d started seriously weight lifting about a year earlier. Although I only stood five foot seven, I had a 42-inch chest and a 32-inch waist and weighed about 190 pounds. On the way to the show, I mentioned to Scott and Dan how I was going to dominate in the pit. I even flexed my bicep and said, “I’m going to kick some teenage ass!”
I slammed around in the pit for about ten minutes. Then I got caught between two teens. One was taller than me, over six foot, with a high slender green Mohawk. He was wearing slick leather pants and a studded belt, the buckle reading “Misfits.” The other teen was shorter, near my height. He was fat kid with a shaved head. His shirt was sleeveless and read, “I hate people.” He had white-headed pimples on his biceps, and I recall looking at them and having two thoughts: Don’t touch me and Perhaps I’m getting too old for this. The short kid fell behind me just as someone pushed the tall kid into me. I fell down, hard, and felt a pop in my knee. This went on to be a permanent injury that causes me to occasionally fall down flights of stairs. I got out of the pit and rubbed my knee. I could hardly walk, but I was determined to stay at the show.
Clint falling down stairs
Dan and Scott held me up most of the time.  Drunken punks kept slamming into me. One was a slender man in his early twenties. I punched him in the back of the head.  The other was in his late 40’s, probably the oldest man there. I punched him in the face. I was really angry about my knee. I was angry because the night was not what I expected. I felt old and worn out, a feeling I was trying to overcome. Overall, the whole night was miserable. I didn’t feel young. I didn’t feel hardcore. I felt sore and tired, and a couple of times I felt that the music was too loud.  Each time I threw a punch I had to grab Dan or Scott to keep from falling on my face. I was surprised that both of the punks walked away without swinging back. My only saving grace was probably Dan and Scott. Although I’d never known them to get in a fight, they were large and intimidating looking men, and it was obvious that they were with me. The weight lifting I’d been doing probably helped, also. I don’t know what I’d have done if I’d gotten in a fight because I could hardly stand.
The next morning my ears rang and I hobbled around the house on my sore knee smelling like other peoples sweat, cigarette smoke, and weed. Mel sat on the living room sofa in a pink robe, her hair loosely braided. She was holding Tristan on her lap. Her eyes were bloodshot and makeup-less. Tristan had kept her up most of the night. We were both tired and moody, but for different reasons. Her because of her obligation to her child, and me because I was trying to still be a child.
She looked me up and down and said, “Why are you walking like that?”
I stood in one place for a moment. Then I landed my hand against the table and tried to walk normal. I wondered if I could hide it from her. But my next step was as clumsy as the one before it. I felt it was best to tell her the truth, even though I really wanted to lie. I told her about twisting my knee. Then I told her about the drunks that I’d hit.
“I probably should see a doctor,” I said.
“I thought I told you not to do anything stupid. Instead you hit two people,” Mel said. Her eyebrows rose.
“Yeah.”
“You’re a father. Don’t you think you’re getting a little old for these things?” 
Silence. We just stared at each other for a while. Then I broke our eye contact by looking down.
What she said hit hard. It hurt more than my ringing ears. It hurt more than my aching tired head. It hurt more than my swollen knee. I wanted to get angry. I wanted to defend myself. But I couldn’t, because I knew she was right. I didn’t speak for a while, and Mel never broke eye contact. I closed my eyes for a moment and watched my punk rock dreams drift out of sight behind me like an island.
“Yeah,” I said. “You’re probably right.”
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Clint Edwards is a tutor coordinator at Oregon State University. He is also the former co-host of the Weekly Reader on KMSU and a graduate of the MFA program at Minnesota State University. His writing has been listed as notable by Best American Essays, and has been published in The Baltimore Review, and through The University of North Dakota, Boston College, Emerson College, The University of South Carolina, and Minnesota State University. 
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Showing 2 comments
  • Loz

    Clint, How can we be so similar. Swap Punk Rock for Club and dance music and take away the violence, and we have similar experiences.:)

  • Clint

    Loz: I have no idea. Perhaps you are the British edition of myself?