I’ve always been a concert-goer since I was little, but I didn’t start seeking out small concert venues until I was around 15. If you’ve been to small venues, such as House of Blues or other local places, you know how they separate the over-21 crowd and the under-21 crowd.
If you’re above age, you get a wristband. If you’re underage, you get big black Sharpie X’s on both your hands.
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve “assumed the position” of holding out my fists for the bouncer to mark with an X. It became natural to me. “Are you 21?” -holds out hands- My mom got a wristband, even though she never drank, and I was forced to wear those X’s for days because they never washed off. After one summer concert, I woke up with X’s all over my body because my skin was sweaty (which took forever to scrub).
Sometimes I wore my X’s with pride, because I was happy to show off that I had been to a concert in a bar. And sometimes I hated it, especially when I got to college, because I was nervous people would see my hands and think of me differently just by my age.
Last night, I went to a concert at The Middle East Nightclub in Cambridge to see Constantine Maroulis. The Middle East is one of the outcasts; they have different wristbands for the over- and under-ages, as well as being on different wrists. I showed my ID to confirm I was over 18, and made a joke about how I was “so close!” Then I realized. It was my last concert being underage.
Now, most people don’t really care about that kind of stuff. Almost all are thrilled that they don’t have an X on their hand that doesn’t wash off for three days. But it’s different to me. In the past six years, I’ve been to roughly 30 concerts where I had to get an X on my hand. In a way, it’s always been a little part of me and my concert life. Went to a concert, came back with X’s to prove I was there and had a blast. It was something that I just always remembered, something sentimental. I can recall saying frequently “I can’t wait to be 21!” just so I get a wristband instead of a Sharpie, but now I’m a little hesitant.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited that I won’t have to rub my skin raw to get the ink off anymore, and that I’ll finally get a coveted wristband. I’m going to keep my under-21 wristband from this last concert as a reminder of my past concert life, just because the past six years have been filled with memories of rocking out with friends to my favorite songs. I love going to shows, and I know I’ll never stop. I know I’m going to forget every now and then and groan when I have to take my ID out to prove I’m 21 instead of just “assuming the position,” but this marks a change.
It may not mean much to anyone else, but as a girl who loves concerts, it means a lot. It means I’m no longer the crazy kid with X’s on my hands who loses her mind over seeing a musician. It means I’m an adult (whatever that entails), and signifies a big step from my teenage years into my future.
Here’s to the rest of my life, everybody. Let’s hope it’s good.