30 GOING ON 13 

In another life, this column was the bastion of suicidal fat-girl hipness. We found it kind of funny – although, we found it kind of sad – that the dreams in which we were dying were the best that we ever had, and stuff.

Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, two unfortunate mullets from Bath, espoused the rudimentary ideals of pop-psychological pap (those involving primal-scream therapy, big chairs and ruthlessly refusing to play Live Aid) and scored bitter anthemic angst hits in the process. Ah, it was all so important then. Tears for Fears, man. They were Duran Duran for serious people. They were the Thompson Twinswithout hair dye or the pesky frizz girl. They weren't Wham!

They shouted, they shouted, they let it all out(ed). And me, I cried(ed).

In this life, though, Tears for Fears is part of that odd distillation that has ensured relevance to the deliberate pan-flashes of our teenage dress-up periods. Although the band has a new album – and I do indeed enjoy it – lined up outside of Universal's CityJazz for the Mix 105.1 exclusive-but-beige Christmas soiree, I feel equal parts small and stupid, and am muffling a few primal screams all my own.

"Let's pretend we're 13 and everything is really cool," I devolve in clear view of my similarly 32-year-old friend David. "We'll totally be like …"

"OK," he senses my desperation and cuts me off. Somebody has to.

In fairness, when I was 13 – some 19 years ago – everything was really, really cool (even if I was smaller and stupider). I was attending my first concert, which happened to be Tears for Fears in West Palm Beach, and my hair was parted politely down the middle to absolutely no noticeable effect. Pleasantly pressed up against the armpits of the masses, I lost my rock & roll virginity with muffled screams of "You shouldn't have to JUMP for JOY!" I shouldn't have been jumping ever since.

Only I'm not jumping now – not yet, anyway – because I'm standing still, murmuring Florida-wintered obscenities at the fact that, I'm Billy Manes, damnit, and I have to wait in line with the rest of my bloating demographic. Funny the conversations that percolate in this kind of nothingness. There are about four of us present (David, Allison, Stephen and exactly one-half of me), and we're finding a common generational link that stems from too many latchkeys and the apathetic need for pop-cultural stimuli. Naturally, Carol Channing is on the boards … and I'm the only gay one (half).

"She scares me," Allison bleeds with inexplicable fear. "Do you remember that Christmas special she did with Ann Jillian?"

"It's a Living" I sputter useless, broken information, unheard.

"I saw her recently," remembers the Stephen who remembers everything. "It's like they revived Jim Henson just so that he could stick her hand up her ass and make her perform."

"Thoroughly Modern Millie." Again, nothing.

And we're off. Stephen goes into DVD menu detail about Kids in the Hall skits, while I name-drop myself in the presence of one Dave Foley and the winsome cocaine abuse that saw me crawling around him on the floor looking for my pager. David, who doesn't even drink, rolls his eyes and picks up the Kids in the Hall torch, while Allison quietly shakes her head because this trivia contest seems specific to geeky boys.

I'm effectively on a heterosexual double date, inexcusably excusing myself to the bathroom one too many times to powder my nose. At least that's how it feels … kind of like I'm the bejeweled whore someone picked up to impress their friends at Houlihan's. Role playing is fun, no?

Not really. Turns out that I'm not on the list, and I'm corralled with Stephen in a velvet-rope holding area where I'll rustle through my wallet for fake credentials and pretend to make calls to New York on a Sunday night. Such is the breadth of my ineffectiveness.

Fortunately, Allison knows someone who convinces somebody else to let me in – which would be fine if I hadn't raised some stink at the door about the driver's license lost in my pocket that I'm sure they stole to sell on eBay.

"You had it last!" I demand, suppressing a shout in the direction of the door folk.

"Go to the bathroom and empty your pockets," Stephen rolls his eyes. I don't need to. It shows up next to my cigarettes in a matter of moments, and I'm duly ashamed.

"Sorry about all that," a CityJazz rep comes up to smooth me over and his name is Jim Henson. Does that make me Carol Channing? I thought so. Somebody's getting lucky tonight.

I'm suitably knackered within five minutes of my bar presence, and by the time the show is in full swing I'm 13 again, bouncing up and down and performance-pointing fingers in the direction of Roland and Curt. I think I see them laugh at me, but I chalk it up to convivial appreciation and keep on with my Charlie Brown/"Seeds of Love" dance combo, because I'm totally awesome.

Outside after the show, Stephen, David and I wait by the exit for a chance to shower some seeds of our own on the band, shivering with the descending temperature and a quiet sense of humility. Is this all there is to your 30s? Mmm, yes. Futility realized, we split up: Stephen goes home, and David and I scratch our stalking itch and head to the Portofino bar to find nothing, and then to Hard Rock Hotel Velvet Bar as a last ditch.

We miraculously leap over our early graves to behold the sight that is the entire tour entourage lounging in the corner, Roland and Curt included. "Omigod!" we squeal in unison as men of a certain age never should. As we casually jog over toward them, Curt raises a performance finger in my direction.

"Why are you pointing at me?" I flutter, staging a "Who me?" demure to disgusting effect.

"Because you pointed at me the whole show, and sang every word," he stares me down in possibly a non-complimentary way.

"Oh, I'm sorry." I'm clearly not.

"I remember you," chimes Roland, all saggy-eyed and floppy haired. "You were an inspiration."

And in another life, I just killed myself.

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