“Do you need a goth phase?” Johanna, a very wise woman I know, asked me last spring when I was complaining about feeling like I was being too good all the time. (The downside of being a teacher is the same as the upside — you’re a role model all day long.)
“I don’t know about a goth phase,” I replied.
Well, needed or not, I had one Friday night. Nate’s cousin is the star of a big-in-Europe industrial band called Unter Null, and she was headlining a show in Seattle, so we went. The show was kind of like being at that bar in Star Wars, only everyone was wearing black, and everyone was very sweet. But there was a lady with horns and another with feathers, and a guy in what I would call an orc mask and one with three inch spikes coming up off his shoulders. (Was he having a pigeon problem?) Black outer-wear bras with studs were popular — maybe Madonna and a bulldog did a clothing line together? I was the only one there in pale pink.
This crowd believed in personal space. Even right in front of the stage, the only people touching each other were clearly sleeping together. Every time someone brushed against me, they apologized. I could wriggle my way all the way to the front without touching anybody, just by walking in a zig zag. Every goth is an island, I guess.
Like the people, the music was not as clashy and edgy as I thought it would be. It was more like pop from another planet. “If you want to dance goth, just pretend someone stepped on your toe and you lost your contact and you’re pissed,” said Nate, but mostly people were just bobbing like at any other show in Seattle.
Nate left me for the bathroom, and a guy came over and introduced himself. “Those are very exciting leggings,” he said, referring to my pattern tights (perhaps the gothiest thing I own, if goths wear brown tights from Garnet Hill). This happens a lot when Nate goes to the bathroom: guys tell me they like my tights. I’m not making this up, Nate. I thanked this guy and he abruptly ran away. When I smiled at another guy who was looking at me, he ran away too.
“Goths are awkward, damaged teddybears,” explained Nate. “Except for the sociopaths.” Which seemed about right. In any case, they were all very sweet to me, despite my lack of black. And at the end of the show, Nate’s cousin, who has a tattoo of butcher knives stuck through a heart on her chest and owns the stage like the rock star she is, was so horrified we, as family, hadn’t been let in for free that she insisted on refunding us from her own money.
But when we got home, there was Squinchy, worrying around like, “Where have you been? It’s 2:00 A.M. for goodness sake!” I guess even goths have curfews.