During my freshman year of college, one CD spun on perpetual “play” in my tiny dorm room. It was a CD of greatest hits from the Police. As I recall, it did not even belong to my roommate or me; it belonged to a girl across the hall, but had somehow migrated into our room where it was held captive for the better part of a year. If I had to choose a soundtrack for that year of my life, it would probably be that Police CD. Reading, studying, chatting, or just relaxing before bedtime—my roommate and I did it all along to the strains of “Invisible Sun,” “Message in a Bottle,” and, yes, “Roxanne.”
(And just to date myself here: it was the nineties, era of grunge and flannel; the Police had long ago broken up, and Sting was well ensconced in his solo career. But that CD was, incredibly, my first real exposure to Sting.)
Fast forward seventeen years. A month ago, one of my husband’s friends from his old lab learned that the Police Reunion Tour would be making a stop in our new home city. The friend and his wife decided to make a Police pilgrimage across the state (and visit us while they were at it). Husband and I bought tickets, too. We hired a babysitter to care for the bean-girls, and for the two children our friends would be bringing. Last Sunday afternoon they all showed up—our friends, and their four-year old twin boys. Bean-girl sat on the couch watching cartoons and basically ignored the boys as they fell on her toys and books with glee. Baby Legume crawled around and tried to snatch toys away. We hung out, ordered in pizza, then the sitter arrived. And then we were off.
“Follow the people that look our age,” my husband said as we walked toward the stadium. We had pulled into a parking garage full of minivans. Streaming toward the stadium were rivers of baby boomers—hardly a face under thirty.
Elvis Costello and his band were the warm-up act. They played with vigor, but something was wrong with the sound system—I couldn’t understand a word that Costello sang. I blamed the acoustics of the stadium. But clearly someone had not done a proper sound check… for when Sting entered for his set, every word was crystal clear.
At the first sight of the Police, I was taken aback. The screen behind the stage displayed the band members in video close-ups, with merciless clarity. The lines of age, the sag of a jaw, the grizzled hair and paunch—all there, 20 feet high. Almost a shame to see it like this, I thought. But the music started, and oh, that Voice. The Voice was just the same. The music was just as I’d remembered.
I was surprised to find that I still remembered most of the lyrics, and was singing along. They even got me to bop a bit in what my husband calls my bunny-hop dance. These guys are in their fifties and even sixties (Andy Summers, I believe, is sixty-five). And yet they sounded just like the band that once played together over twenty years ago. Their energy left me in the dust. And for nearly two hours, I didn’t think of my children at all.
It was a great Mother’s Day gift—to feel free for an evening, to be out with my spouse and friends. To hear a terrific show, and forget all about motherhood—for just a little while.
And Sting? Forgive me for that moment of doubt, of weakness. You’re as sexy as ever.