You Never Forget Your First

Ten Things About The Night I Brought My 7-Year Old Son To See The National at the Greek Theater in Berkeley


  1. When talking to your kid in the backseat of the car, there’s almost no way to describe pensive, down tempo, alt rock in a way that doesn’t sound like an apology.
  2. Before the show started, I wondered aloud whether a lot of the traffic that went to The National Review website came from people searching for a review of The National. My son had no response, and I realized the evening wouldn’t be that different from every date I had in college.
  3. To whomever among the vending higher-ups made the call to include red Gatorade on the evening’s menu: I thank you.
  4. The fog machines on the stage couldn’t come close to matching the plumes of smoke rolling across the crowd. About twenty minutes into his first contact high, my son looked back at me and said, “Daddy, I think someone burned the popcorn.”
  5. We sat on the steep grass at the distant rear of the theater. I figured my son will have a better appreciation of good seats after he’s spent some time near the back row. For Springsteen, we’re sitting with the 1%.
  6. Mid-concert, his feet were tapping. I like to think he was getting into the groove, though it was probably a side-effect from the Grape Bubblicious he packed for the show.
  7. While I worried about questions related to the smoking and the drinking, it was most difficult to explain the sheer number of not so well-sheared beards in the house. If my son ever attends a Yeshiva for Hassidic rabbinical students, he’ll be the only first-year student for whom the surrounding amount a facial hair does not take some getting used to.
  8. We closed the evening by kicking it old school with a couple of frozen desserts at Yogurt Park on Durant Avenue. The woman behind the counter gave my son such a healthy portion of sprinkles, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in addition to his first concert, he experienced his first stirrings.
  9. In a moment that would make any misanthropic, agoraphobic, English-majoring Berkeley grad proud, my son finished his yogurt, looked up and said: “Yogurt Park is my favorite park.”
  10. On the drive home, I thought back to my son’s head using my chest as a bass-line thumping pillow as we reclined on the grass. My mind wandered to my first concert (Doobie Brothers, Oakland Arena), the concerts ahead for me and my son, his without me, and his with his son. And then my mind returned to that moment in the outdoor theater when we stared at the reflection of the stage lights bouncing off the clouds and our interlocked fingers found one indie rock, wire-rimmed glasses beat. It was one of the great moments of my life. Stealing a lyric from The National: This precious stuff makes me dizzy, I guess I’ve always been a delicate man.

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