Lou stood outside the concert venue. Although her friends assured her everything would be fine, she was nervous about what they were about to do.
“I really wonder how you guys talked me into this,” she confided in Patty while they waited for the rest of their friends to arrive.
“Oh, it’ll be fine!” Patty laughed as she spoke which Lou did not find reassuring at all. She turned to look at the parking lot, almost noon.
“Well, here they come,” Patty said as an iridescent pearl Chevy Tahoe sped into the lot. Nan had bought her new ride solely for the purpose of transporting large groups of friends. Sue was the first one out. She was wearing what she referred to as her funky pants. True, the crazy pattern printed on a hot pink background was a bit wild for her, but no doubt some people would consider them everyday wear. She’d also worn her special hat in honor of the occasion. Donna was next. Lou was relieved to see she had decided not to wear her tutu.
“We’re over here!” Patty shouted waving her arms over her head.
“Should we really be calling this much attention to ourselves?” Lou said.
Patty shrugged. “It’s gonna be okay.”
As soon as she saw the strappy wedge sandals and tailored capris exiting the behemoth, Lou knew Sharon had decided to come. She was the one who had devised the plan, and Lou wasn’t sure if Sharon’s excuse of possibly having to babysit was true or just a way to back out of something that could have dire consequences if they were caught.
Maureen waved to them and adjusted the handle of the cooler she was dragging behind her. Lou knew what was in that cooler, and it only added to her anxiety. As soon as she saw Elaine, she realized the cooler’s content was not what she should be worried about. She started sweating. It wasn’t the ninety-degree heat. It was a developing panic attack.
Elaine looked like a caricature of a 1980’s Florida retiree. Think George Costanza’s mother. Hair a color not found in nature. Flowing top that took the funky prize. Turquoise blue polyester pants. A wool sweater, just in case she caught a chill. She was using a walker and carried a bag with a tube attached to it that was supposed to be for oxygen. Lou found out later it was keeping Elaine’s wine slushies cold.
They assembled on the sidewalk at the base of the entrance. Crowds were going through the doors while they reviewed their roles. “Don’t worry about a thing,” Sharon said seeing the perspiration stains on Lou’s t-shirt. “I’ll chat up the volunteers at the door, flirt a little if I need to. Patty, you’re with me. Sue, you start asking questions, anything you can think of.”
“Is there a photo booth?” Sue said.
“Very good! Donna, you stick as close to Lou, Elaine, and Maureen as you can without looking like you’re with them. You look so innocent, they’ll think if anyone’s trying to get away with something, it’s you.”
Donna took her part very seriously. “I can do that!”
“Yep, if I have to look old and frail, you can definitely look innocent,” Elaine said.
“And, I’ll follow at the end, just in case we need to get out of here fast,” Nan concluded their plot.
“Okay, here we go!” Sharon and Patty took off more quickly than Lou would have liked. She was still worried about being carded. Before she had time to say “I forgot my I.D.,” Sue was monopolizing another volunteer with questions about the band and where the photo booth was.
“One way or another, it’ll all be over soon,” Lou reassured herself. Donna was about a foot in front of them looking as innocent as a single guy shopping at Victoria’s Secret. Lou took a cleansing breath and reached to steady Elaine’s walker. She was holding on because she felt dizzy and didn’t want to face plant. At least she looked concerned and helpful.
Donna went through the door no questions asked. “Wow, I th–,” Lou ‘s relief was cut short.
“What’s in the cooler?” a white-haired man wearing a Beach Boys t-shirt that stretched across his belly asked Maureen. He was the venue’s idea of security.
“Oh, just some Boost for my aunt,” Maureen was a natural. “She can’t eat solid foods, so we need to be prepared.”
“Help me Rhonda, we just want to have Fun, Fun, Fun,” Lou whispered to Elaine. Clearly, Lou was losing it. She laughed a little too loud. Little Saint Nick waved Maureen over to make room for the others.
“Are you the aunt?” he asked Elaine. She wasn’t sure if she should feign dementia, and as she struggled with the decision Kokomo decided for her. “Oh, I’m so sorry; I didn’t realize. Just go ahead. Here, take your aunt,” he said to Maureen.
“What the Little Deuce Coupe is going on?” Lou thought as she tried to follow but was blocked by a much too hairy forearm.
“And, who’re you? A little young for this show, ain’t ya?”
“Um, I uh, forgot my I.D.” Wrong. Wrong. Wrong! That wasn’t what I was supposed to say, Lou thought aching to run. She tried to salvage the situation. “I’m the aunt’s caregiver. I’m really not that young. I’ve been told I look young, but I’m not. I’ll bet you’re younger than I am. What is youth anyway? Age is just a number. You’re only as old as you feel. And, I feel so so old. I’m the aunt’s caregiver,” her words faded near the end.
“Hold on a minute, are you trying to sneak into this show?” He glared at Lou.
It was no use, daddy was about to take her T-Bird away. “Yes. It’s true, I’m not old enough to go in. I’m only fifty-seven. But, all of my friends are older, and I wanted to hang out with them. I’ll just go wait in the car. Nan, can I have the keys?”
“Wait a sec, how old do ya think ya gotta be?”
“The lady on the phone told Patty, sorry, I mean my friend, Patty is my friend, 60 is the minimum age and we may be carded.” Lou still wasn’t sure if she could be arrested for impersonating a senior citizen and her fear showed.
“For some things, yeah, but not for this. Take a look around.”
How had they not noticed? Lou was relieved to see people younger than she was, some much younger! She wouldn’t have to sit in the car after all. It wasn’t going to be a repeat of that time in college when all of her friends got into the bar, and she had to sit alone in the coffee shop next door.
“Get goin’, Barbara Ann.”
“Oh, but my name’s Lo—”
The kind man just shook his head. So, he’d heard her comment, excellent hearing for a guy his age.
“Thanks, I hope you Catch a Wave,” Lou smiled for the first time that day.
Later, as they danced and shouted the words to “Cheeseburger in Paradise” Maureen said.
“That was perfect. He never suspected a thing.”
“What do you mean?” Donna asked innocently.
“We were so focused on how to get Lou in, we never thought about getting caught with alcohol,” Nan explained.
“Ooohhh, good thing,” Donna said as she sipped her canned watermelon Margarita. “We gotta have Margaritas at a Margaritaville concert, even if it is an event for old people.” Donna had just turned seventy.
“They sure are giving me a boost,” Sharon said. “Get it? Boost?” She chuckled.
Just then a beach ball came out of nowhere and bonked Sue’s hat off her head. She left the tattered straw sombrero on the ground as she chased the ball all the way to the stage. It was near the end of the show, and people had started making their way up the gentle slope onto the stage to dance. Of course, Sue would be first in line for that. She volleyed the ball into the crowd and found a man in a wheelchair who needed a partner. Showing him and the world her moves, she danced through the encore. That night she thought it was the best thing ever when she saw herself on the local news. She sent a group text, WBAL lead story—“Seenagers Seek the Sounds of Summer.”
It had been a great day.