Question: If the sound of a jet taking off equals around 180 decibels and the sound of a whisper equals about 20 decibels, what does about 140 decibels equal?
Answer: Tuesday night.
It started the moment the sold-out arena’s lights dimmed and the stage lights went up — a sound like I’d never heard before. And it didn’t stop, not completely, really, as for 90 minutes the pop sensation boy band One Direction sang, danced a little, smiled, joked around and flipped their hair. Oh, the hair flipping. With every swoop of a bang on stage, the sound rose to even higher heights. A sound unlike anything I can describe, really. Piercing. Vibrating. High pitched. Hair raising.
Screaming. Thousands of girls. All screaming. At the exact same time.
My ears are still ringing.
Who could blame them, really? Had I suddenly realized when I was 15 that I was in the same room with Leif Garrett or Andy Gibb, I probably would have screamed. My older sisters preferred Donny Osmond and John Denver, and judging by the posters and Teen Beat magazines around our house at the time, I can pretty much bet they’d say the same thing.
So I totally understand why thousands of young girls are going gaga crazy over Liam (the shy one), Niall (the blond one), Zayn (the swarthy one), Harry (the Mick Jagger one) and Louis (the swoopy hair one). No, I didn’t remember all their names, no matter how many times my daughter has coached me. And, no, those aren’t my own adjectives describing them — that’s what all the magazines are saying about them. Does a teenage girl even know what swarthy means? Still, I have to admit ... they are dreamy.
I said as much as my 15-year-old daughter and I gave her dad play-by-play of the concert. He raised an eyebrow.
“Dreamy?” he repeated. Yes, dreamy, I admitted with no shame. Wouldn’t it have been incredible if we had actually met them, our daughter fantasized. What would we have said? My husband had a suggestion.
“For starters, you could have said, ‘Hi, I’m Mandy. I’m old enough to be your mother.’”
Very funny ... and true.
So, I’m not in love with the boys in 1D (that’s what all us cool kids call them), but I have grown to like their music after the 1,432nd time I was forced to listen to it in the car. There’s the possibility I may have even sung along to it a couple of times while driving down the road. I suspect I’m not the only mom who knows the words, either, and I even witnessed a few at the concert Tuesday and I wondered if they had received the same instructions I did before the lights dimmed — Do not sing and do not dance.
After about 30 minutes went by, however, I just couldn’t contain it anymore and threw caution to the wind. I started out by tapping my foot to the beat, and when my daughter didn’t elbow me or give me the eye, I started to move my legs a little. When she didn’t run away, I began moving my arms and my legs ever so slightly and, yes, I sang a little. Later I thanked her for not saying anything to me about it. She smiled sweetly. I suspect she wasn’t upset because it was dark and she thought nobody could see me. I’ll take that.
My ears may still be ringing, but my heart is filled with the memory of the smiles of pure joy on the faces of my daughter and her friend as they danced and sang and enjoyed the concert. I’ve gained a little more respect for 1D and their swarthy, swoopy hair. We may even go back and see them next year.
Next time, I’m taking earplugs.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.