“Can you wear sweatpants to a concert?” And other questions to ask on your first emergence since lockdowns.

I’m not sure what came over me when I responded to an offer of 2 free tickets to a concert tonight. Likely it was some primal instinct leftover from my college when any free opportunity was the right one.

Regardless, I said yes, and the next thing I knew, my husband and I were changing our lack-of-plans for the night, prying ourselves out of the rump-shaped indents in our couch, and preparing to drive into the city for a show.

Mind you, this wouldn’t really be a blog-post worthy event normally. But this is the first time since pandemic lockdowns that I’m venturing out.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I’ve also gone to Costco a handful of times, made a few trips to Whole Foods and our local superstore, which was anything but super, and picked up an online order from BestBuy. I also had to buy 4 cars during this time (don’t ask; just know that only one included a trade-in) and get my hair done on occasion. Oh, and I go to work in-person once each week. So I have ventured out. But this — this would be the first time I’m going out for fun. It seemed somehow different.

My first question: is it acceptable to wear sweats? My jeans now seem like dress clothes and hardly the right option for something that’s supposed to be fun. Sweats are what I wear for everything else.

I’ve taken sweats, btw, to an art form. There are weekday sweats, weekend sweats, summer sweats, and laundry-day sweats. I’ve had to move the pants from my dresser, where they stopped fitting about a year ago, into the closet, where they now occupy at least 1/2 of the storage space, maybe more. It doesn’t hurt that my daughter has worked for a sweats shop — where they sell sweatpants and sweatshirts and probably other things that I’ve never actually looked into because, sweats — for the past 14 months, too. A discounts is a discount, and the sweats she sells are soooo nice.

I ask my husband. He says, “I’ll probably wear jeans,” which strikes me as odd because I haven’t seen him wear anything but sweats or shorts for the past two years. And he goes to work daily: he’s a teacher and we live in a red state, so obviously he’s been face-to-face in a classroom nearly the whole time.

I try to think back to the last time I saw him in a pair of jeans, which was likely the day that pandemic shutdowns. Granted, maybe he actually has been wearing jeans all along and I just haven’t noticed. Based on the condition of the house right now, which was much closer to spotless in March 2020, I’ve stopped paying attention to much of anything. I’m not sure I’ve gone through the mail since.

Regardless, I think he’s an unreliable source, so I ask my teenage daughter the same questions. Her response: “To a concert? No.” (Punctuation added by me, obviously.) “Nah, go for it. You be you. Although I’m not going to know what to do if I come home and you and Dad aren’t asleep on the couch.”

Affirmation. I was cool with that. And then I started to get nervous. Would the show be crowded? Would people wear masks? Where would I park? What if I didn’t remember how to act around strangers? Would people drink? Do people still drink in public? Would it be like an airplane— would they start swinging at other patrons? Would I be expected to make eye contact? Would I even remember how to interact with strangers? Would my couch and sweats miss me?

There’s a good chance that I’m not ready to go out.

… 4 DAY LATER

You know how you build something up in your mind to be amazing? For me, that used to happen with movies all the time. It was back in my gullible days, as I like to call the time before the internet where people everywhere want to fill you with their truths. Back then in, say, the 1990s (GASP!), people would tell me how great a movie was—like Office Space or Something About Mary or Silence of the Lambs (FYI, no one excavates secret hiding places in their basement)—and I’d be excited to see it, and then I’d see it, and then … you get the idea.

It’s not like shitty movies aren’t a thing anymore because they are. Holy shit, are shitty movies a thing! The entirety of the pandemic was filled with shitty movies but that was our only form of entertainment so we were filled to have them. But, seriously, you saw that Bo Burnham turd, right? Didn’t everyone? But during shutdowns and in the time before people were willing to emerge, we accepted mediocrity as perfection … almost like teaching. (You’ll have to read posts from my two years as a public high school teacher to truly appreciate the embrace of mediocrity in our society.)

So I went to the concert. And I felt young, alive, vibrant. Not because of my excitement or energy but because I was younger than 2/3 of the crowd. It was like going to see The Cure a few years back and realizing you were in the minority if your hairline was intact or you could claim being within two dress sizes of when The Cure was something. (Yeah, I know — vanity sizing. But after 50, you take anything.)

This show, however … was a dud. Boring. Music vapid. The highlight was watching the couple in front of me. He played a mean air guitar and sometimes a violent one, all of which seemed out of place since I couldn’t actually identify any guitar in the music we were listening to, and none of it rocked. Regardless, I gave him the space he needed because co-pays are expensive when you have an HSA. As he played, she danced. Nonstop. Not in time to any music. Maybe she brought her AirPods.

Still, I wanted what they were having, which was a good time.

I had worn jeans and booties, or whatever they’re called now. My spouse wore jeans and, I don’t know, maybe a sweatshirt? We wore matching KN-95s. Black because those are sexy. He had an overpriced drink. I had an overpriced water. We each used the restroom. We wanted to look like we were having fun and we wanted to have fun because we wanted our first night out during the pandemic to be special, memorable, magical. Or at least different.

At the one hour mark, we left. The music felt like a cross between Richard Marx and David and David. I had to sing the only David and David song I knew — Welcome to the Boomtown — for my husband since he’s 9 years younger than me and wasn’t familiar with either David. When we got to the car, we asked Alexa to take over. She was more than happy to play it.

That may have been the highlight.

Eventually, we returned home to our custom couch indents and, obviously, our comfy sweats. As usual, our 17 year old daughter found us asleep on the couch — just like always.