I met my wife 17 years ago at a mutual friend’s tattoo shop. Within 10 minutes, we realized we had both seen the same band a few days earlier. I don’t think either of us knew what was going to happen then. We were both coming off of pretty disastrous relationships. Neither of us were looking to jump into another. And yet we did. There was something about the music.
Pretty early into our relationship we decided not to exchange Valentine’s Day gifts, largely because we were dead broke. Instead, acknowledging our love of punk, we saw a band called Boysetsfire at a cheap show in Philadelphia. We were both big fans. Not to mention, there’d be a long car ride where we could get to know each other more.
Even though we were pretty comfortable with each other at this point, I was nervous, and excited, still, being around her. I was overthinking every joke, trying to be funny, but not obnoxious. I had to make sure I didn’t say anything stupid during the drive out. She was not so self-conscious: she made sure that I understood that not only can she sing along to virtually any heavy metal or hair metal act from the 80’s, but she sounds exactly like the lead singers. Especially Bret Michaels. She’s dead accurate with Poison. I know now that while I was hopeful about our relationship, she already knew.
The show was at the Trocadero. It’s a small place and, honestly, that’s the best way to see a punk rock show anyway. There were no smoking laws yet. The venue smelled like sweat and cigarettes. My wife is only 5’3” on a good day, but she’s tough. We decided to move up front — that was the only way she could see — and pushed our way through, leaving the rest of the small, but dense crowd behind us. She sang her brains out the second that wall of sound hit us. Me? I dropped in and out of the mosh pit close by and caught a glimpse of her. What I noticed then, and what still impresses me now, is how she was totally not reserved. I loved it and I loved knowing that we were there together.
That very first Valentine’s Day we were together, we agreed that going to see a band from Newark, Delaware would be better than any cheesy Valentine’s day gift or celebration we could come up with. And we knew that sharing a passion with someone is the foundation of a strong relationship.
We kept the tradition going strong. This year, we’re celebrating on February 24th and going see Boysetsfire, the very same band we watched 17 years ago. We’ll take the same drive out to Philadelphia together that we’ve done so many times. There will be a car concert starring my wife for some of the way, and, like always, I’ll tell her how on point her air guitar is and how she sounds just like the singer. We’ll brag to one another about how proud we are of our kids and how they’re growing up to be kind and considerate boys. Then, we’ll wonder when they can finally start joining us to some of these shows. (Soon, we agree, real soon.) Maybe we’ll talk about adult stuff like our taxes, juggling bills, or plans for family vacations.
But when we finally get to the cramped little venue and walk through all the kids outside getting a last smoke or two in before the show, all that adult talk is forgotten.. She’ll sing along as loud as anyone in the place and I’ll get filthy pushing and shoving other grown men around. It’ll be like our first Valentine’s Day again.
On the way home, after we’re done reliving this show, we’ll talk about our favorites from other shows as though we were just at them. If she stays awake after the reminiscing is done, maybe there’ll be some time to talk about rescuing a third dog, or our favorite football team, or about our boys because I’m pretty sure we have this music thing figured out.