Last night my girlfriend Jennifer took me on a date that was twenty years overdue.
I remember the first time I heard a Def Leppard song. I was 11 and with friends at the Harborena, our little roller skating rink here in Hoquiam home to a hive of villianous packs of eleven-year old boys who will hate-cut you, so watch out. The crunchy guitar and reverby bombastic drums intro of “Pour Some Sugar On Me”* during All-Skate held me entranced. And the song just got better as I listened, smutty lyrics and all. I couldn’t really believe how much I liked what I was hearing. And I had to hear more.
My then-best girl Jen and I went on to become Def Leppard fans. I mean, really big fans. I wore their band shirts every day I could and at age 12 dyed my hair black. My bedroom held all the band posters I could find. At Jen’s house we watched VH-1, MTV, the rock biopics you could get at the record stores (remember those stores? they sold tapes and CDs and stuff). We sang together, the same songs, over and over – we lip-synced them on top of her windowseat in the little bedroom of the house on Karr Street. While other girls my age were stalking NKOTB I was delightedly bouncing on the couch belting out the impossible rock-screech falsetto notes in “Photograph” and it must be said, about a thousand-percent in crush with Joe Elliot, the lead singer who sounded American enough but in interviews and a few lines of his music revealed his meltingly-cute Sheffield accent. And it wasn’t just that I felt like I was in love with the singer of a rock band. I wanted to be in a rock band. I wanted to be able to belt out that music, bending backwards with a fist pumped in the air, wearing tight jeans and a long fierce mullet. I really did.**
Last night for the first time ever Jen and I finally saw the group live at the White River Ampitheater (a pleasant enough locale – but I can’t recommend it since it had terrible acoustics). Jen and I spent a wonderful few hours together. We don’t talk about rock and roll videos any more; we talk about our husband, families, children, and friends. But we sang along at the top of our lungs and we had a great time. And you know… I felt – sitting on a grassy hill with the summer sky large above me, fragrant and expansive, pulling me against gravity – I felt so very sad that it had taken me this long to see the band. I almost missed out entirely. I guess I “grew up” in middle school and realized it wasn’t cool to like hard rock, or it wasn’t what other girls liked, or maybe I just got into the real boys to be found a little more locally, but I’d left it behind and thought the whole thing kind of silly until last night, when I was overwhelmed with the memories of how much it had meant to me way back then before I lost so much of my sense of self.
And I was too far away to throw my panties on stage. But I liked thinking about it – you know, a nice, respectable pair of cotton knickers sort of floating down like a little cozy blanket.
Thank you for the rock and roll, boys.
* The cut-up band t-shirt and uber-shredded jeans – which Jen and I absolutely drooled over as young teens, and I made a pair for myself in seventh grade, before I lost my fashion authenticity for many years – is not the only sartorial awesomeness donned by Mr. Elliot in the signature video. I had forgotten the athletic shorts with the 1″ inseam and the charming little black bolero jacket.