I saw this sentiment flash across many faces as I told folks about my trip to Baltimore to see Arch Enemy last week. I have much to tell, not the least of which concerns meeting the band, but I wanted to write this piece while I am still feeling the wrath of the mosh pit that formed in the very center of the crowd.
The next day, although I was running on less than four hours sleep, the adrenaline of the show kept me going and it wasn’t long till I was telling everyone I could about the meet and greet, the music and of course the pit. My wife and teenage children just rolled their eyes as I recounted the amazing guitar work, vocals, hits and crowd surfing. I imagine they were hardly alone in thinking that I’m nuts for insisting on playing in what is mostly a young man’s (and occasionally young woman’s) game.
With few exceptions I was twice the age of most of the other bodies flying around that night. In fact my age garnered several comments as the evening wore on. Thankfully all of them were complimentary. A guy in his mid twenties who hit like a mack truck grabbed me around the neck and screamed in my ear, “Man, I think it’s great that an old guy is keeping this pit going!” Another came from a man with scraggily gray hair hanging down around his shoulders who slapped me on the back and proclaimed, “Us geezers gotta stick together!”
“Old guy???” “Geezer???” I sure didn’t feel that way at the show. For a few hours I wasn’t worried about budgets, worship attendance or my son’s grades. I was free and reveling in the moment (which was probably a good thing since keeping your head on a swivel is a rather important survival strategy). But just a few hours later as I creaked into bed my age started catching up with me. The next morning I knew that those terms, “Old guy” and “Geezer” were in fact all too true. I felt every hit. Getting up and down took a whole lot more effort than they should have. Even now, four days later, I am feeling painful reminders of all those hits.
So why do it? It’s been said before “If it’s too loud then you’re too old” Well I’m in no hurry to get old, or at least, old-er. I love going to these shows. I love the music. I love the energy. And I confess I also feel a rather adolescent surge of pride at the thought that I can hold my own in the pit. But for the first time in my life I started to engage in the cost-benefit analysis. Was three hours of fun worth four days of recovery?
It’s an individual calculus. For me a few hours of playing Peter Pan is still worth the price of a few days of feeling every bit of my age. But for the first time in my life I can imagine a time in the future when I may have to give it up.
But until that time comes (and I hope it never does) I have absolutely no intention of acting my age, at least, not in the mosh pit.