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How I've managed to miss Duran Duran in concert for 30 years...



Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran/Getty Images

Duran Duran is on tour? Didya know that? Because I think I've only written about them once a day for the last six months. If I seem a little obsessed with the band these days, it's because I've only been waiting to see them live and up close for MY ENTIRE LIFE. (And because I interviewed Simon Le Bon. You can finally read the print version here or listen to the audio version here.)

But back to the tour. I don't want to throw my mom under the bus (again) for this huge deficit in my pop culture upbringing, but the woman who raised me (and who once spent $80 on a brand-new VCR tape of the Village People's Can't Stop the Music; she still denies it but it happened) has grown thick skin during the six years of Stuck in the '80s story-telling. And so we continue...

The year was 1984, and a young 16-year-old Spearsy was obsessed with two things: Duran Duran and his chain-smoking, Publix-cashier girlfriend named Alisa. The band was touring on their epic Seven and the Ragged Tiger album and had a gig set up for Lakeland's civic center (at that time, the only concert venue within a hundred miles of Tampa Bay with enough seats for big tours). Alisa snagged two tickets for us. General admission  -- those were the days -- and fate was finally smiling down on me. Until...

"Absolutely not," my mom dictated. "That's too far to drive for someone your age without adult supervision." (For the record, it's maybe an hour away? 45 minutes even?) I fumed. I pouted. I protested. Pretty sure I even cursed. Loudly. THIS. WAS. SO. UNFAIR.

At this tender but responsible age, I'd attended maybe a dozen concerts so far. Journey, AC/DC, Rush, Billy Joel, the Rock and Roll Super Bowl in Orlando. I'd even driven myself down to St. Pete to see Styx on the Mr. Roboto tour -- not all that much closer than Lakeland. Why the sudden resistence? My mom finally confessed.

"I don't like your girlfriend." Crushing. "She's a bad influence. She smokes. She doesn't sit where she's supposed to sit in your car." 

She doesn't WHAT?!? Okay, so she sorta liked to seat BETWEEN the two front seats, to be closer to me. It was true love, I tell you! This is worth denying me Duran Duran?!?

It was. There would be no Duran Duran in 1984. Or any other year. Duran Duran never returned during their '80s hey-days, and by the time the band reformed, I had moved on to other things in life. As for Alisa, who called it the concert of a lifetime, all I got was a pin from the show. Not a shirt. Or a program. A tiny, metal pin. We'd break up weeks later.

Fast forward to 2011. Duran Duran is coming back. And again, I have two tickets. And again, I have a girlfriend. She doesn't smoke. She doesn't work at as a cashier. She sits where she's supposed to in the car. And I really don't need my mom's permission anyway. Right? ... Right?!?

I have to know, so I call her on the phone Wednesday morning. I recount the story. She remembers it all right. "She didn't wear a seatbelt!" my mom says, still on Alisa's case.

"So, I have two tickets again, Mom. Just for the sake of fairness, I feel I should ask again: Can I go see Duran Duran now?" I ask.

"Oh, I guess so. I trust you," she gives in.

Forty-four years old, and she finally trusts me. Just for that, I'm thinking of not wearing a seatbelt and sitting between the seats again. Aw, who am I kidding? I'd never do anything to risk missing Duran Duran again.

Maybe this time, I'll get my mom something from the concert. I'm thinking ... a pin.

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 10:22am]


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