Beth Dolinar

Column Beth Dolinar

Beth Dolinar has been writing her column about life, both hers and the rest of ours, for over 20 years. When not on the page, she produces Emmy-winning documentaries for public television, teaches writing to university students, and enjoys her two growing children.

Rocking, nerd-style

July 25, 2013

I am a nerd and my friend is not, and so when the day of the Eagles concert was upon us, I sought his advice.

“How do you act at rock concerts?” I asked. “Do you stand up and dance, or do you sit and listen?”

He looked at me with a disdain that said nerd, and then answered.

“It’s the Eagles, not Pearl Jam. We sit and listen.” I was relieved to hear it; I’m not much of a dancer. I never know what to do with my hands.

Our seats were great, down on the floor about 15 rows from the stage. I’d been in the same arena – almost the same row – two weeks ago for the One Direction concert. Then, with my daughter on one side and another 13-year-old on the other, I had plenty of elbow room, but was not allowed to use it. Grace begged me not to embarrass her by dancing, clapping, singing or throwing my underwear onto the stage at the 20-year-old pop stars.

But a band of musicians in their 60s attracts of crowd of people who are in their 60s, and suddenly my elbows had nowhere to go. My friend, who is a strapping 6-foot-6, was oozing into my space from the right, and encroaching on my left was a man with about the same dimensions, but in width.

“Snuggly,” I said as I pulled in my wings and rested my hands on my knees. You’d think at these prices the seats would be a little roomier. I know for a fact this arena swaps out those floor chairs in a jiffy: ice for hockey and sawdust for the circus. Why can’t they bring in the wider chairs for when the ’70s groups come to play?

And so there we sat, our bodies folded and locked in the upright position; Don Henley and Glen Frey walked onstage. They did a couple of acoustic songs and the crowd was mellow. This was a nerd’s kind of concert, quiet and orderly.

And then Joe Walsh walked on, and I knew I was in trouble. A wave of middle-aged rocking started two rows in front of us, with the leaping-up of a woman with a spangly jacket and an awesome teased beehive hairdo. She thrust her left hand into the air and started swaying with it, back and forth. The man next to her popped up next, opting for a clap-clap-punch maneuver that almost matched the beat but not quite. After a few more seconds, they apparently felt lonely up there, and the woman turned around and starting waving at the rest of us to stand up and groove along with her. Striking out, she sat down.

As we knew they would, the band started playing more of their upbeat stuff, “Already Gone” and “Life in the Fast Lane” and such. The lady with the tall hair was back on her feet, and this time about a hundred people were joining her, all of them swaying one arm in the air.

My row was still seated. With our elbows snap-locked into each other like Lincoln Logs, if I’d stood up about 15 other people would have had to come with me. I was really feeling these songs, though, and would like to have clapped along, but when your elbows are jammed into your belly, you clap like a trained seal, and believe me, I am nerd enough without starting that.

Eventually, they played “Desperado,” and everybody was singing. I looked over to see my friend sort of mouthing and mumbling the words, not quite opening his mouth all the way. We sing like that in church.

The Eagles put on a great concert, playing all the hits. By the encore, everybody was standing, including my row. The man to my left was up and dancing, and let me tell you, he was no nerd.

Me, I was tapping my foot and bobbing my head. Middle-aged people rock.

Beth Dolinar can be reached at



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