The Boss

I love Bruce Springsteen.

But, when I was sixteen, I loved him with something bordering on obsession. Okay, so it was no Romeo and Juliet kind of scene. He was not my beloved in quite the same way at all. Mostly because he did not know he was supposed to be.

Bruce Springsteen was the soundtrack to every late night studying session. He was my running music for field hockey and my typing music for AP English. I could sing every word to every song and this was before I could cheat and Google for the lyrics. I earned those lyrics from stop-rewind-play over and over until whole tapes wore flimsy and separated from their spools.

I still know every word to every song (Okay maybe not the newest songs. Who do you think I am? Barbara Rosenblum?!)

Anyway, in the spring of my sophomore year, I begged my parents for Bruce Springsteen tickets. They were expensive. And, to boot, my parents lived by the rule of equal money for all. That meant that any expense, especially a frivolous one, would need to be replicated at least in monetary value for my two other siblings. So, we did not get the tickets.

But, on one of the nights that Bruce was going to play, my parents drove me to the Philadelphia Spectrum to see if some miracle might happen and we might be able to get in. There were no miracles. As the final people rushed past to find their seats, my parents sat on the cement steps that would take us back to our car without hearing Bruce. They sat chatting quietly and I heard the music start inside.

It was muffled music but I was there. I walked closer and closer to one of the cement walls. I could hear a little better. I pressed my ear against the cold cement and I could hear Badlands building to chaos. I figured out that if I pressed my body against the wall, I felt like I was part of the crowd. I sang along out loud. My parents sat talking on the steps. I sang one song after another.

I stayed that way for hours. It was a Bruce concert after all. I don’t think we stayed until the end, but my parents never rushed me and they never looked at me strange. I don’t know what they said to each other in hushed tones.

That was my first Bruce Springsteen concert.

A week later, as I was finishing practice, my mom pulled up. She didn’t usually bring me home. When I got in the car she said, “We have to hurry if we are going to get there in time.” We rushed to some place just on the other side of the Delaware river from the Spectrum. We got tickets from someone who was not official. I knew that much.

I went to my second first Bruce Springsteen concert with tickets my mom found Lord-knows-how. My mom and I sat about 20 rows back to the side. We were close enough for me to fantasize about actually being picked to “dance in the dark” with Bruce.

The music was…transcendent.

And, on that day, I found out that the real boss was my mother!


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