As a 23-year-old, I can now (against my will) officially say that I’m an adult and the long-awaited stage of complete independence has finally begun. Of course, now, I look back at my youth with envy. The innocence, the excitement, and the lack of responsibility made life so simple. Sigh. That being said, my high school years make me cringe. The compounded self-consciousness and awkwardness was enough to make me pretend those years and those braces didn’t happen. Yet, somehow, I was transported through time when I stepped through the doorway of NASA on a lowly Friday night. Minus the frizzy hair.
My housemate had purchased tickets to see Familjen, and we were in the mood to dance. As we approached the entrance, she told me she had noticed it was ages 18 and up. I shrugged, and didn’t give it much thought. Walking in, I made a beeline to the bar. Surprisingly enough, there was no wait time for getting a beer. “This is great!” I thought as I took a swig. Then I turned around.
I nearly choked on my cold brew. My housemate and I were the oldest people there. The dance floor was empty, but the tables were teeming with youngins’, all suited up in their Friday best. They were everywhere. Girls were giggling and telling secrets behind their hands while a few comedians were doing their version of a dance routine in the centre of the floor.
In the next twenty minutes, the place became flooded with these children of the nineties. Now, I like people of all ages, and I didn´t mind the teenage antics. Some pleasant memories began to resurface. However, as my housemate and I were sitting off to the side, the bad flashbacks took over. And the strangest thing happened; I slowly started to feel nervous. The awkwardness I had long forgotten was creeping up in the midst of all these young people with their whole lives ahead of them.
I had to firmly tell myself: “You are 23. You are confident. You are past this,” which seemed to do the trick. Or maybe it was when a young teenage girl approached the table and said, “My friend thinks you’re cute.” My housemate, who could see the young lad, gave me play by plays on his friend pushing him over to our table. Once he finally sat down, and after I downed the last of my beer, I asked “How are old are you?” He was 19. “I’m 23,” I said. The guy looked down, stood up abruptly, said “See ya,” and left in awfully big hurry.
After I had a good chuckle, Familjen took the stage. It was at this point that my housemate and I walked to the railing to get a better look at all the action. The dance floor was flooded with teenagers. Guys began to grind against the girls who had conveniently worn the shortest dresses. Then the making out began. At one point, I counted seven couple glued to each other. The more hot and heavy couples daringly made their ways to the walls.
As we watched Familjen jerk around the stage in what seemed to be some sort of stupor, I realised that we weren´t the oldest people at NASA. There was a group of men in their mid-thirties, cruising around and trying to pick up young girls. There were two that particularly stood out. One had a completely shaved head that gleamed under the fluorescent lights, but his eyes were completely protected by a pair of purple-tinted sunglasses. His comrade was wearing a tan polyester suit and looked like a pimp from 1974. To add to his overall “look,” he had a messy scattering of facial hair which was slightly heavier in the moustache area.
When they gave up on the young (and smart) girls, the started looking around some more. I knew what was coming – they were looking for people closer to their age. Before I knew it, my housemate was jabbing me in the ribs, saying, “Oh my god those guys are coming over here.” The polyester suit had a shiny look to it, and the coat folded back to reveal a flowered shirt with chest hair sprouting out of the top. The man donning sunglasses smoothly asked, “Care to dance?” to which I quickly responded, “That’s okay.” They didn’t put up much of a fight, and returned to the bar, defeated.
I grabbed another beer and finished it in record time. The make-out sessions, the scantily clad girls , the creepy old men…what kind of portal had I stepped in to? I wasn’t sure, but all I knew was I was ready to leave it, immediately. As I stepped through the door of NASA it seemed like a veil was lifted. Walking away, I returned to my comfortable, maybe more jaded, self. Those experiences were behind me, literally and figuratively. Maybe they hadn’t even happened.