"I don't have anything in common with any of these people," I thought to myself last night as I pressed my back against a clear plexiglass splash panel on the wall of the Troubadour.
It was a familiar scenario to me: standing at the back of a concert venue, surrounded by the latest indie rock band from New York with one hit song on the radio. I used to do this for a living.
I looked around at the beards and the beanies and the jeans and flannel shirts, shaggy hairstyles that hadn't been cut in quite some time, beers pressed to chests, cell phone screens glowing, and it all felt like a flashback from a dream I once had, familiar but foreign and confusing.
Concertgoers went their way through the crowd, trying to get a drink, trying to get back to their spot with a drink, trying to find a better spot. A white guy with a scraggly beard and a big, brown afro blocked my view. I shifted weight from one leg to another, and looked up at a flash as I accidentally photobombed the selfie-taking couple in front of me.
I watched another couple make out.
I tried to listen to the band, whose music I liked, whose lead singer smiled and bounced as her green hair glowed neon in the black light, her pallor turned by its purplish hue. I alternately crossed my arms, hooked my thumbs into my empty belt loops, and shoved my hands into my back pockets, already bulging from my cell phone, which I checked religiously. All these things you can do without a drink in your hand.
It was a relatively cheap show, and I'd walked there, leaving my car at home, deeming it about time that I go to the historic concert venue right around the corner from me. Maybe I belonged there in its heyday. But watching a lithe, tie-dye skirted, halter-topped fan undulate her body in a pattern that was more Tai Chi than dance to a rhythm all her own, mouthing words I didn't hear in the music, I knew I didn't belong there now.
And the worst part was, as I observed all those around me, soaking in their faces and their fashions, speculating on their frailties and fraternities, no one gave me a second look. No one looked at me at all. Statuesque blondes stood in front of me as though I weren't there at all. A glassy-eyed guy of questionable sexual preference in a too-big buttoned-down shirt stepped on my foot, and just stood there. No one let me catch their eye.
And as I slunk away from the merch table (which foolishly didn't accept credit cards, and therefore lost my sale), no one noticed me leave.