We're All Damaged

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rattle and Awesome


A few weeks ago I was on a very long plane flight. About two hours in, after most people had committed to either sleeping or restlessly staring, a little boy in the row across from me jumped into the aisle, clutched his penis and began hopping up and down.

I’m not a pediatrician, nor have I ever formaly studied body language, but it was pretty clear what needed to happen. A few minutes later, as his bleary-eyed dad led him back from the bathroom, the boy looked at me and smiled. “I went pee-pee in the airplane potty,” he said.

“Good job, buddy,” I replied.

It struck me then, looking at his dinosaur T-shirt, that the things we’re so proud of in our youth often don’t translate into adulthood. If I’d shaken my wife awake over the Atlantic Ocean and told her that I’d successfully gone pee-pee in the airplane potty, I doubt if she’d have been all that impressed. “But, honey, I did it all by myself.”

“Matt Norman, I’m trying to sleep. Here, play with your coloring books.”

Since 1992, I’ve attended exactly 13 U2 concerts. My iPod currently holds 39 U2 albums and 475 U2 songs. I have ten separate version of the song One. My e-mail password in college was “BELA,” which stood for “Bono, Edge, Larry, Adam.” I bought a copy of Time on eBay signed by Bono that my friend Brett claims absolutely has to be fake. I know how many children The Edge has. I know where U2 attended high school, and I know what they were called before they were called U2 (Feedback and The Hype).

When I was young, the sheer complexity of my dedication to U2 is something that I thought made me awesome in the eyes of my peers. “Wow, he sure likes U2,” girls would think. “I should totally be his girlfriend and let him go to second base with me.”

Now though, I tend to be less forthcoming about my fandom. When you’re 32 years old, passionate dedication to a music group is no longer considered awesome. In fact, it’s more likely to be among a list of characteristics used to describe someone who lives in his parents’ basement and drives a bitchin’ El Camino.

Yesterday morning, tickets went on sale for U2’s upcoming concert here in London. Because I’m an official, paying member of U2.com, I was able to go online early and secure four tickets. Although the show isn’t until August, last night I was so excited that I sat in bed all night arranging potential set lists in my mind. Sometime around 2 a.m., my wife woke up and asked me what I was doing.

“What song do you think they’ll open with?” I asked.

“You do know that I have a job, right?”

“Hmmm. You know what always helps me relax when I can't sleep?” I asked.

“What?”

“Second base.”

“Matt Norman, I’m trying to sleep. Here, play with your coloring books.”

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