You kids get off my damned lawn! (True Stories from Middle Age)

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life59 Comments

Last weekend, me and one of my oldest and dearest friends had a date for a dinner and a concert.

That friend, Ania, former expat now living in the United States for the first time in about 15 years, is always game for a night out and when I told her I had two tickets to see Gotye in concert, she said, "Hey, I love that song."

And really, at this point, who doesn't?

Aidan was a bit peeved that it was an 18+ show. She had really wanted to go, but being the responsible parent that I am, I refused her numerous requests to procure a fake I.D.

With the e-Tickets freshly printed, Ania picked me up promptly at 5:45 and we headed out to dinner at one of my favorite Minneapolis eateries, The Birchwood Cafe. Ania, a seriously hard-core and well-seasoned foodie had never been there, so I figured I'd take her someplace to impress, despite the casual nature of the place.

We shared the grilled romaine salad and each had a delightful spring vegetable hand pie for our entree, served with a side salad of tasty micro greens.

We followed it up by splitting a delicious slice of carrot cake and two cups of coffee, mine a full strength.

That was my first mistake of the night.


We made our way into Minneapolis, parked and as we walked from the ramp through the skyway, we saw the line outside the venue for the show wrapped clear around the block and Ania said to me, "We could just hang out here until the start letting people in. I mean, no sense in standing down there and being chilly, right?"

No sense at all! Love how these newly repatriated Americans think!

So we waited in the skyway—and for those of you not familiar with cold climate downtown metropolises, they are connected with covered, heated walkways called skyways (the Replacements wrote a great song about them back in the day)—and we just stood up there and there was a part of me that thought, "Hey, let's go back for a second dessert and call it a night," but then I hushed that old granny lady up and we eventually made our way down to the street and into the line.

You forget, standing in line to get into a show, how many people out there get a huge jump on the drinking portion of the night. The two women behind us—one of them who apparently had been drinking wine since noon—were loud, drunk and smoking, two things I used to be and do. Okay, maybe sometimes I'm still loud, I'll grant you that. But I couldn't help putting my hands over my nose and calmly saying to myself, "A cigarette can't last forever."

I wanted to turn around and say, "Hi, you know, I bet you love that cigarette and let me tell you, girl friend, I KNOW that love, for reals, but you know what? You should try and quit now so you don't do it like me and realize at 40 you're going to be playing Russian Roulette with your health year in and year out by lighting up every single day of your life. And when you do decide to quit, it's going to be the hardest, most emotionally and physically challenging thing you ever, ever do in your entire life. That, and you stink," but something in me said, "Hmmm. Maybe not say that," and I just stood there with my hands covering my nose.

Because hey, the line was moving.

Another thing you forget when you are 46: bands take a hella long time to come out and play. Also erased from collective 40-something memory? How much general admission sucks.

Ania and I aren't big drinkers, as in we had zero alcohol in our bodies for the start of the show.

That was my second mistake of the night.

One thing you notice when you are not drinking is just how drunk other people around you are. Oh, sure… not everyone in this club was hammered, but there were enough memorable folks to make an impression. Like the dude who kept leaning on me and holding his drink over my head and who was trying to make it through the crowd to his sister/wife (we couldn't tell what she was, because he kept saying she was different things). Or this bearded dude and his little girlfriend who just decided that I wasn't occupying any physical space that mattered, as they pushed me aside to stand in front of me.

By the time Kimbra (opening for Gotye, and a fine act indeed) came out, I was nearly ready to call it a night at 9 p.m.

At 9 p.m. people.

Ania and I had an agreement. When I squeezed her arm in a certain way—you know, it was too loud in there to clearly communicate, and older people need a back up plan—it would mean this: I am freaking out in this crowd and would like to move to the back of the club where the older people are.

We managed to stay up near the stage until Gotye came out, and even though there were about three 6'4 dudes standing in the front row, I did manage to see his adorable face clearly and I took one photo of him with my iPhone. I paired that with the one shot I took of Kimbra.


After about 5 songs, I'd had enough and I squeezed Ania's arm in that certain, predetermined way. We moved to the back of the club and just as I was heading to the loo, wouldn't you know it, the hit came on. This is the photo I took of a video screen in the back of the club.


Ah… rock and roll, the way nature intended for a sober, 46-year-old woman to experience it.

It sounded like a frat party sing-along at that point. You couldn't even hear Wally singing over the off key chorus from the standing room only, mostly inebriated crowd.

And that's when I realized I'd become my grandfather.

We stayed through the end of his set, watching the show from a video screen on the upper level of the club. We decided to skip the encore, you know, to avoid the crowds and such.

Once home, I came upstairs and crawled into bed. Dan woke up to ask how the show was and I simply said, "I'm thinking my club venue show days are over."

And with that, thanks to that cup of full strength Joe earlier in the evening, I layed awake until 2:30 in the morning, tossing and turning and reminiscing on my late 30s when I could hold my liquor and stand for more than three hours without experiencing mild to moderate back and calf pain.

Yes, those were the days. Get off my lawn indeed.

Cathy ZielskeYou kids get off my damned lawn! (True Stories from Middle Age)

59 Comments on “You kids get off my damned lawn! (True Stories from Middle Age)”

  1. #1

    Oh Cathy, this is just to funny!! I could have written this myself, thanks for the story and the pictures!! Sucks being older some days!

  2. #3
    Sandi D

    I loved your story. My brother is 60 years old and he loves going to the concerts like you went to. My sister-in-law on the other hand hate going. She has many funny stories similar to yours. Unfortunately the person she is with never wants to leave!
    I do give her credit for continuing to go to the shows to make my brother happy.

  3. #4

    Hysterical!!!! Just what I needed as I begin my “kick-the-sugar-habit-that-you-kicked-before-Christmas-but-kept-eating-because-of-Christmas-Valentines-Easter-your birthday” day.

    Seriously, nothing like a serious gut laugh to get the day rollin’. I am SO happy to hear that I am not the only person on the planet who thinks a great night is getting into my pajamas before 7:00… Actually, it’s even more amazing when you can climb into them at 4:00. Problem lies in having to pick up teenagers who then look at you (and their accompanying friends)as though you came naked!

    Hope you are able to see straight today. Maybe a cup of jo? hee hee…

  4. #5
    kass hall

    probably one of my favourite film lines ever!

    I went to see Kylie Minogue recently at a club and I too, at 34, am too old for club gigs!! At 5’4″ it’s impossible to see the stage and there were just WAY too many people and most were gay guys who dont mind gyrating against anyone in their way. In my youth I was totally up for that. Now, not so much! I need my space dudes!!

    That said, the concert was freakin awesome and I am so glad I went, even if I paid for it big time the next day 🙂

  5. #6
    jacquie d

    Oh how I can relate to your story! I met my daughter in Denver to catch Gotye at the Ogden Theatre on Friday. I am 59 and long past the age of enjoying this type of venue. Even my daughter at age 35 gave me a couple of the ole ‘eye rolls’. We had obnoxious drunks behind us, pot smokin’ dudes in front of us, but I have to say, I don’t think it was quite as bad as your experience. For me, in the end, it was worth it. We were fairly close to the front with no obstructed views and the show was awesome!

  6. #7
    Korey Lindberg

    I seriously LOVE this post soooo much!!! It’s pretty much guaranteed that no matter where I stand at a concert the tallest person in the club/venue will come and stand directly in front of me, blocking my chances of seeing anything but the person’s back! We went to First Ave about a month ago to see The Darkness and stood directly behind the the roped off sound mixer station and held our ground the entire 4 hours in order for me to enjoy the show 😀 Oh and while we stood in line before the show started, that loud, obnoxious, smoking and inebriated group of college age kids was standing directly in front of us too!!! Sounds like no matter what venue/show you are seeing the entire experience is the same ;D

  7. #8

    This certainly hit home with me. I find myself in the ‘get off my lawn’ frame of mind more often than I’d like these days. I like it when I recognize that attitude and can tell myself to stop being old and frumpy. I get scared when I tell myself that I am right and smarter and its my prerogative to get those “kids off my lawn!”

  8. #9

    I know, its not too fun to get old….AND your favorite band ages too!! When we saw the BoDeans two years ago at the Zoo I asked the question…When did Kurt and Sammy get so old” and I realized they weren’t the only ones!! But then again I participated in a few libations and had my teenage daughter come and pick us “old ladies” up!! Ugh!! Not sure what was worse!!

  9. #10

    I can totally relate to your story- except my details involved my favorite local hockey team and an unfortunate $1 beer night in which college guys kept going in and out of our row to the men’s room. I swear I’d have paid full price for their beers if they’d hae just sat down for the whole thing. Hubby and I now agree that dollar beer night is a non-starter for us. But thanks for making us all laugh along with you. 🙂

  10. #11

    Thank you for starting off my day with a good laugh and positive attitude. I even got DH to read your post (he heard me laughing and wanted to know what was so funny while I was eating breakfast). I gave up on clubs a long time ago, but sometimes I wonder…what am I missing. Thanks to your post, I am reminded that I am happier at home, watching the video and going to bed at a decent hour! Gotye is here this week, and now I know that I can rest easy that I’m not going to be missing out completely. Congrats to you for making it to (nearly) the end of the concert!!!

  11. #13

    Oh, there is plenty of Joe today. And no added sugar. I’m kicking this ridiculous season of sugar as well. (It starts in Halloween and ends at Easter!)

  12. #15

    I think First Avenue would be better than the Epic. Mostly because the Epic has these awful pillars in the way of everything. : )

  13. #17
    Sherry G

    I get it! Which is why when Springsteen played nearby last month, I passed on the chance to go. I knew that the advanced age of 52 was not going to be my friend for traveling to the venue 2 hours away on a weeknight (read work the next day), and the seating I could afford would be less than ideal. I was hard to admit I was just too old…

  14. #22

    I totally relate. My husband and I are both 42 and find that the only people our age at some shows are bringing their teenage kids! My husband decided no more festivals like Coachella, even if “Jesus is opening for the Beatles.” We are just too old.

  15. #23
    Laura A in OR

    You are a great story-teller! LOVE it when I am reading a blog and my nearly-13 year old daughter says to me “mom…why are you smiling (or laughing?)
    What a great way to start my day…thanks, Cathy!

  16. #24

    You go out and embrace life and I’ll stay here in front of my log burning stove wrapped in a blankie watching reruns of Friends and read about your antics. Deal?

  17. #29

    well sister you lasted longer than I! Ben and I went to see O.A.R. about five years ago and after the drunk girls behind us were all over Ben (honestly climbing over me to paw at him and play with his hair…who does that?) and someone spilled a beer on my head- I said peace out to live shows. I just want to sit in my car with the music cranked up and pretend they are singing just to me.

  18. #30

    Oh Cathy,
    I had a similar experience at a Bodeans concert at First Ave. I felt absolutely ANCIENT by the end of the night. I really missed my younger, drunker self. Until the next morning when I woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

  19. #31
    Susan Kopp

    I tried at 40 (got carded making it totally worth it) at a club in Vegas for a Metallica like band…….ears somewhat okay for it and totally done in at the end of the evening. Went with my grown kids to a place in town called Denim and Diamonds for a live band……………….my ears were bleeding and we left after 3 songs…….I am 60 and was living a delusional life…..everybody got offa my lawn!

  20. #34

    I want to be you when I grow up. Right now I’m in a baby + toddler fog, but I hope to be as cool as you are when my kids are slightly older and actually sleeping in the nighttime. 🙂

  21. #35

    I recently went to a concert and had to pull a tissue from my purse, roll it into a wee ball, and shove it in my ears…just so I could endure the pain. Why does it have to be so loud? My ears were ringing for days. To my older, hard-of-hearing self, I am sorry.

  22. #36

    OMG I can SO relate to this! I try…I really do…to be a “cool” mom for my college age kids. My wake up call was a few weeks ago in Vegas. I just wanted to go out dancing with my hubby and our friends without standing in line with girls wearing dresses that barely covered their…well…you know what I’m saying. We ended up at a lounge with a mostly over 50 crowd. And I did NOT want to dance. Why? Because I didn’t want to be THAT WOMAN. I saw all these women trying to be 20 again. And I don’t want to be 20. I just want to be a fun 50 something. How is that accomplished? Or is it merely a pipe dream? Hmmmm….

    Love your humor, girl!

  23. #37

    I bought my hubby Foo Fighter tickets for his birthday last year. It meant he had to travel to Auckland to see them. While he loved the band, and said the concert was really great…. he has since declared that his concert going days that aren’t sit down are over. Yep, grumpy old gits unite! 🙂

  24. #38

    hahaha so funny!!!!

    now had it been a neil finn concert…..
    it would have been perfect
    and you could have sung along too
    and heard neil as well!!!

  25. #41
    Missus Wookie

    Oh I sooo relate – a year or so ago Wookie & I were standing in the line outside a club in Camden (London not Mass) to see OKGO when in the young 20 somethings behind group one member said to another, “Have you seen those two in front??? I mean they’re old enough to be PARENTS!” Felt like turning around and saying, “Yep – and our kids are just a wee bit younger than you ;)” but we didn’t.

    Sat in the bar just off stage until OKGO came out, hung around and enjoyed the music a good distance from the speakers and then didn’t head off to another club after.

    We’d do it again for GOTYE tho’. Wookie has that album and WOTE’s cover with a cool video.

  26. #42

    I am a bit of a groupie myself and try to go to as many shows as I can. Last year, my sister and I waited a good part of the day outside in the cold to get an up close and personal experience at a Muse show. Lemme tell you, buy the end of the night, my back hurt so much, I couldn’t even “woohoo” anymore. My barrier days are over! Your story cracked me up 😉

  27. #43
    Bea Medwecky

    Thanks Cathy for this very funny story. At 54 I fell ancient when I can’t tolerate the noise, the crowds, the smells, and the general chaos of general admission concerts. Thanks helping me realize it’s an age thing, not a “our mom is such an old fuddy duddy” thing.

  28. #44

    Heh. Matt and I started going to concerts together in 1989; we still do OK at places like Red Rocks, Wolf Trap, etc. but we went to see Cake at the Ogden in Denver last summer and whoo boy, we’re right there with you. General admission up close in the club is for people a good 20 years younger than us. : )

  29. #47
    Sue S

    I’m 34 and already my grandfather. I love it.

    And I wanted to say I completely agree about the quitting smoking. I have tried 10 times during the past three years to quit. As of right now I am heading into week three without one. I want one every minute and it’s only the fear of going through the withdrawls for the 11th time that has kept me away. Miss Thing will figure it out just like we did.

  30. #49

    I feel that way everytime Im in a movie theater. Like how I went to see Beauty and the Beast in 3D and my personal hero was the 3 year old in front of me that stood up to shoosh everyone into being quite. When did they start letting babies into movies? lol

  31. #50

    Oh Cathy, you were looking forward to it so much too! A friend saw Gotye in Hobart during our summer – a sunny Sunday afternoon in the botanical gardens, sitting on the lawn with a picnic and a glass of wine – sounded so relaxed and civilised – the only way to go at our age me thinks 🙂

  32. #51

    I’m on day two of kicking the sugar. Yesterday started out great – then kind of went to hell in a hand basket.


  33. #52
    Carmen King

    Well, I think when you reach a “certain age,” there are some things we just aren’t willing to put up with anymore. I think I have become the official “shusher” at our church. I don’t know what has happened, but it seems that most people have no respect for teachers and common courtesy has gone out the window. I am pretty outspoken and have no problem telling people to take their conversations into the hall. I’m only 43, so I can only fear what I will be like in another ten or twenty years and it’s a darn good thing we live in Arizona where no grass grows in our front yard!

  34. #54

    So funny. I come back and reread this post three times….so funny. I love the part about the bearded dude and his little girlfriend.

  35. #56

    This journaling is PRICELESS ~ even tho I don’t get to check your blog as often as I’d like, I know when I do I always come away with a smile on my face and a new song on my heart! Peace CZ!

  36. #58

    I loved this post!!!
    The only thing you left out was the need for earplugs…to keep the tinnitus from acting up…which was brought on my more nights than I can count in very loud bars, dance halls and concert venues
    Truly sucks to get old !
    …almost 50

  37. #59

    I totally regretted leaving the earplugs at home, i mean, i sleep with them every night. Cant believe I didnt bring them!

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