The Very Best of Steely Dan: Reelin' In the Years
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When my husband suggested we take our 12-year old son to see Steely Dan, live, in concert, I tried to gently suggest it might be a bad idea.

“He’ll love it,” Hubby insisted, in that clueless way that husbands sometimes insist on things.

What Hubby really meant was: “I want to see Steely Dan in concert.”

We were not trying to punish our son, but to a child who has a strong preference for techno, I’m pretty sure three hours with Donald Fagen and Walter Becker felt like something akin to water-boarding.

Here is the way the night played out in numbers:

6. PM: the time we left our house so we would get “good” parking.

10. Dollars spent so we could park as close to the exit as humanly possible.

22. Minutes spent in the bathroom for Break #1. This is where Monkey first learned that women’s lines really are 3 times slower than men’s.

30. The difference in the number of years between Monkey’s age and the age of the average concert goer.

5. Dollars spent for a sleeve of kettle corn in an attempt to distract Monkey from noticing the balding men and folks in wheelchairs toting oxygen tanks.

8. PM: The time Steely Dan was supposed to start playing. Except they didn’t. The opening band was a whacked-out jazz ensemble featuring a bass guitar, a drummer and an organist.

2. Number of songs Monkey sat through before he decided he needed to go to the bathroom.


87. Degrees Fahrenheit outside as people filed in under the shell to take their seats.

9. PM. The time Steely Dan actually started their show. Monkey and I were in the bathroom, so we missed the beginning of the opening number. We returned to our seats where Hubby  pointed to the four vacant seats in front of us. “Awesome!” he shouted, sticking his thumbs up.

Our "awesome view" of the man in front of us.

Suddenly, the incarnation of Andre the Giant arrived and sat right in front of us. He was 8 feet tall, and his head was bowling bowl big. His cranium completely eclipsed our view.

Oh, and Andre brought his wife Chatty McChatter and her friend Ima B. Talkintoo.

Monkey tolerated 3 more songs before he asked to go to the bathroom.


Once outside, my boy confessed he didn’t like the music. The lights were too bright. He couldn’t see anything. He was getting a headache from the people in front of us who wouldn’t stop talking. I suggested we go to the darkest, blackest, most deserted corner of the lawn and lie down on the grass. I rubbed my son’s hair, which had grown long. I looked at the clouds which appeared gray in the night sky.

“Sixty-three!” said Monkey.

“What?” I asked.

“I counted 63 people playing with their phones.” And he was right. Everywhere I looked, people’s phones flickered like little rectangular fireflies as folks plugged into their favorite apps. The sight actually made me a little sad. I mean, I remember going to concerts and really watching. Really listening.

Monkey sniffed the air a few times which smelled like freshly cut grass – if your lawn was a giant field of green, sticky-bud marijuana.

“What is that stink?” my boy asked.

So while Hubby enjoyed the music, I got to school our child about marijuana. And concerts. And how they sometimes go together. Monkey looked for the source of the smell and found we were surrounded. Monkey announced he did not like the smell. I told him he did not have to. That smoking pot was not a requirement for going to concerts.

As the show wound down, Steely Dan played “Dirty Work,” a personal favorite of mine.

When the song ended, Monkey didn’t clap.

“It would be fake clapping.”

On the way home, Hubby asked if there was one thing about the concert that Monkey had liked.

“Having it end,” our son said unapologetically and fell asleep in the backseat.

Monkey will probably not remember his first concert. He will more likely remember the 16 mosquito bites he acquired from lying on the lawn without a blanket.

It’s okay; he has a whole lifetime to see concerts by musicians he really likes; to laugh in the darkness with friends; to cuddle on a blanket with someone he cares about and smooch while a fabulous song plays in the background.

On an up-note, I’m thinking that the number of times Hubby will question my judgment about things like this in the future: 0.

What was your first concert? Do you remember who you saw? What else do you remember about the experience? Or what was the worst show you ever attended? How underwhelmed were you? Explain.

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