goes to Immaculate Conception high school. Her friend Krista gave
us tickets to see U2. They're playing tonight, The Unforgettable
Fire tour, at the Rosemont Horizon, a huge concrete stadium
on the outskirts of Chicago, where the Ice Capades skate and the
Bulls play basketball. Karen and I can't stand U2, but a free concert
is a free concert, so we're going.
At the Rosemont Horizon, Karen and I are bored out of our minds,
not to mention the fact that our seats are literally against the
back wall. Bono looks like a housefly buzzing around which makes
sense since he's asking everyone if he's bugging them.
"Yeah, Bono! You're bugging me!" I shout from my perch.
What an idiot. A couple of frosty-haired girls, clad in slouchy
army jackets, glance at me, the white-faced teenager in pointy black
The Aragon Ballroom, on the other hand, is like heaven compared
to this over-sized, cinder block hell. The Aragon Ballroom is in
the city. It's small and dark, like a cave, but with chandeliers.
And Depeche Mode is playing there tomorrow night.
I listen to my Some Great Reward album so much I can practically
see through it. I lip-synch to the entire album in the dark and
kiss my pillow, a shabby stand-in for David Gahan, the lead singer
who I am in love with. We climax together during the last strains
of Somebody, the most romantic sexy song in the universe.
If anybody knew I did this, I would die.
The only bad thing is that Martin Gore sings Somebody and
he is the worst looking guy in the band. It's the only song on the
whole album that David Gahan doesn't sing. I wish so badly that
David sang it because he is so sexy and then it's easier to imagine
that he's singing it just to me.
I like Blasphemous Rumours too. It's the one with all the
controversy because of the line, "I think that God's got
a sick sense of humor," so I love that one. It's really
depressing, about an eighteen year-old girl who slits her wrists.
I know how she feels, even though she's older. Sometimes I feel
like slitting my wrists, or taking a bottle of pills, so my mom
can find me and finally see that I was not just being melodramatic
when I told her how it was ruining my entire life that we were moving
in with her new boyfriend, or that I have to go to a shitty Catholic
school when I'm Jewish, including the pathetic fact that I have
to wear a plaid kilt every day, or that we moved to Chicago in the
first place. She says all the time, whenever I tell her I hate her,
or my life in general, "Elise, it's a phase. You'll grow out
of it, Honey." As if I'm just passing through some foreign
country called Adolescence, and however I feel now doesn't count
since I haven't reached my final destination, called Adulthood,
a country that lies beyond a vast and turbulent ocean that I don't
think I'll ever reach. She just smiles and mewls with gooey abandon,
at my clothes, my hair, the music I listen to, when I yell at her,
or excuse myself to smoke a joint in my bedroom. Nothing I do (or
don't do) counts for anything and that just makes me want to shave
my head and tattoo a picture of Hitler on it. My mom thinks it's
all normal, cute even, but I know it's not, because Karen's
mom is divorced too, and they get along really well. They go out
to dinner together and have fun.
Karen and I are disgusted with this whole charade. We leave our
seats (like anyone would take them) and enter the hallway that surrounds
the auditorium, where they sell plastic cups of Heinekin and twenty-dollar
concert jerseys. I'm digging in my pockets, wishing I brought my
fake I.D. so I could get a beer when Karen squeezes my shoulder
and whispers, "Oh my God, Elise. LOOK." We look over and
at first I think I'm just looking at fellow U2 haters, since between
the four of us we're wearing all the black in the entire auditorium.
I'm admiring their clothes and it occurs to me that their outfits
are maybe a little too nice, maybe a bit too expensive-looking,
and then I look at their faces and I realize why. Suddenly, my saliva
turns to dust and my face starts throbbing. I turn to Karen who
is grinning at me as if she is solely responsible for this entire
situation. I turn back and they're still there, casually leaning
against the beer stand, sipping from plastic cups of Heinekin and
talking quietly. I can't decide if God is being cruel or kind, because
David love-of-my-life Gahan, lead singer of Depeche Mode, is here,
standing ten feet away from me, and I am not prepared.
Martin Gore is there too. Even though he sings that beautiful song,
he's a disappointment. Even fame can't make him pretty, with his
curly bleach-blond hair and silver fingernail polish. And he's short.
But then, he's not the one I want. Andy Fletcher and Alan Wilder
are missing. I wonder why they're not here as well, as if the band
is a close-knit family, or a four-headed person, rather than a group
of individuals who are free to roam as they please.
But then, David Gahan's hair is bleached the most perfect, beautiful,
professional shade of silvery white that I feel embarrassed because
I always do my hair in the bathroom sink with Nice'n'Easy
and I wonder if he will be able to tell. And he's wearing these
great, shiny leather pants that are just like the stuff I see at
Wax Trax and beg my mother for. (Whenever I go in there she always
waits in the car so I don't die of humiliation.)
Karen and I huddle against the cinder block wall opposite them,
and confer. I feel like we just stumbled upon a briefcase full of
"What should we do?" I ask.
"I don't know. Should we ask them to sign our napkins?"
"I don't know. Do you think that's stupid?"
"I don't know. Do you?" she says.
"Well," she says, "What should we do then?"
"I don't know," I say.
"Let's just do it. Who cares, it's Depeche Mode!"
She says, and she's right. I mean, we can't just go up to them and
say, "Hi, we're your biggest fans. Would you like to have sex
Karen has guts. I don't know where she gets them. It's not like
she's a beauty queen or anything. I mean, she's pretty and blonde,
but she's really tall and her butt is even bigger than mine. Still,
she walks over to them. I stay behind, sucking on my tongue, trying
to get my saliva flowing again. She picks up a little white napkin
from the countertop. David Gahan is about to know, without a doubt
in his beautiful head, that I exist.
Oh God, I wish I wore something tighter than this big old white
work shirt. Or at least I should have worn all my rosaries, not
just one. Even though I'm Jewish I have the most rosaries of all
my friends. It's a sacrilege to wear them if you're Catholic, but
for me, it's just ironic. I finger glow-in-the-dark Jesus on the
cross and pray David thinks I'm cute. Karen's lips move. What
is she saying? The napkin exchanges hands. What are they
thinking? She looks so confident, smiling and nodding like they're
all on the same level. I'm so glad she's here for this because I'm
paralyzed with this dry tongue, and would definitely ruin everything.
David looks over at me and nods, the corners of his lips rising
in an unmistakable show of approval. I pick my jaw up off the floor
and muster my reply, which I hope is a carbon copy of his quiet
Still, I have that feeling like I'm sinking in quicksand and since
this may be the last time I'll ever get this close to a bona fide
rock star, I'm already busy memorizing the details: the dark stubble,
the studded wristbands, the nose that's longer than I expected,
so I can tell everyone tomorrow at school.
Karen motions for me, so I leave my nest spot against the cinder
block wall. The swish-swish of my baggie pants is clearly audible.
I wish I wore a mini-skirt. Thank you God, at least my pointy boots
Karen says, "This is my friend Elise."
"Hi," I say, my voice echoing in my head like a bubble
of sandpapery spit. David holds out his hand and I stare at it for
a moment before I take it in mine and we shake, very formally.
"Hello," he says, and smiles. At me.
His grip isn't firm. I know my dad would tell him to use a firm
handshake like he's told me a million times before, but I don't
mind, I just touched the lead singer of Depeche Mode! His
hand is actually a little clammy, but I choose not to log this detail.
He was, after all, holding a cup of cold beer. Then I shake Martin's
hand, whose grip is stronger and drier.
"Are you coming to see the show tomorrow night?" asks
"Yes," says Karen. I nod in agreement and wipe the smile
off my face. I try to look older, cunning, moody. Like this is just
any other day.
"What's the Aragon Ballroom like?" asks Martin. "It
"Yeah, it's nothing like this," says Karen.
"Yeah, it's really old," I croak. "And fancy."
Martin regards me charitably, like I'm a special needs child. I
wince, and silently curse myself.
"We're going to set up tomorrow," says Martin, and David
takes a drag on his cigarette. He looks from me to Karen, and back
to me and then blows out a stream of smoke that I want to swallow.
He leans over and whispers something in Martin's ear. Martin nods
and then says, "Would you like to be on the guest list?"
My knees literally wobble. The air around me turns to paste, and
my eyelids are powerless to blink through its thickness. I have
imagined scenarios like this so many times that I've come to expect
it, like breakfast, or a ride to school, but now that it's actually
happening, I am as useless as an eight-track tape.
"Sure," we nod casually.
Martin writes our names on another napkin, Karen Scott and Elise
Abrams. The strains of "I still haven't found what I'm looking
for" reverberate around us in the hallway and I say to
myself, oh but I have and he's standing right in front of me,
if only I can talk. Bono and the rest of U2 seem a hundred miles
"Do you guys like U2?" I ask, suddenly finding my voice.
The warm tingle of pride envelops me. We all agree that U2 isn't
our favorite band, and now I think, Wow, these guys are so down
to earth. So normal, like regular people.
"Well, it was very nice meeting you," says Martin. He
hands us each a napkin, scrawled upon in blue ballpoint pen. After
our conversation, I feel we've exploited them by asking for autographs,
and degraded ourselves. Still, I pocket it, knowing that later tonight,
in the privacy of my bedroom, I'll be assailing it with (very dry,
so as not to smudge the ink) kisses. "We'll see you tomorrow
night," he says.
David smiles, saying nothing. Karen and I shake their hands again.
"We'll see you tomorrow night," we echo, turn around,
and try not to swoon.
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