Doesn’t this sound like the setup for an arguably tasteless joke?
“So two elderly men escape a German nursing home and turn up later — and by later, I mean very, very late, 3 a.m. to be precise — rocking out at an outdoor heavy metal show.”
I thought so when I posted it to Facebook on Tuesday and alerted my 633 most intimate friends to what was not a joke, but an actual news event. (Which I thought had all the earmarks of a good joke.)
The festival in question is called Wacken Open Air, or W:O:A for short, or just Wacken, and it’s in Germany. The little village of Wacken, 50 miles northwest of Hamburg and home to 1,800 souls during most of the year, swells exponentially when about 90,000 metal heads burst into town the first weekend of August. It’s considered the biggest and best of its kind by people who care about that sort of thing. Among the 170-some bands playing on eight stages were Danzig, Judas Priest, Hatebreed and In Flames.
Which, apparently, was way more than the two old geezers in the German nursing home could pass up. Details in the media, especially the English-language media, are vague as to how the two geriatric headbangers pulled off their own personal Shawshank, or how they got into the festival, whether they had tickets, or how festival security ultimately nailed them.
Well, that last one’s not too hard to figure out. The jammies and robes probably gave them away, assuming the American habit of wearing sleepwear out in public has not yet infiltrated and degraded the traditional European sense of decorum.
Once discovered, the mosh pit pappies were not willing to leave. The involvement of a police car was required in returning them to the home.
Though I wasn’t able to find the age of our metal-heads-on-the-lam in any of the news reports I read, a little mental calculation led me to the conclusion that they were most likely of my own generation. So yes, it’s begun. Baby boomers are escaping from nursing homes to sneak into metal festivals. We all knew it was just a matter of time.
I concluded my alert to my 633 besties by saying, “Which just goes to show you, we Boomers are not going to ‘go gentle into that good night’ to paraphrase Dylan Thomas. So get ready, younger generations. It’s going to be a wild ride before you get us under the dirt.”
At which point, the comments erupted into wild cheers, hoots and hollers for Boomer badassery. As a generation, we have long been proud of the fact that we more or less raised ourselves with minimal parental input, running wild from dawn to dusk and perhaps longer, while our parents smoked Kools and occasionally beat us with belts and switches when they did look up and notice we were up to some skullduggery or other. All of which made us into the superior people we are. So goes the Boomer catechism.
My own daughter, who is of the Millennial persuasion, joined the chorus of her elders, encouraging our bad behavior, and telling me I had earned it, and deserved a chance at some elderly misbehavior. Perhaps she was feeling remorse about some youthful indiscretions of her own and granting me permission to put her through the paces a bit, as she had done to me in her youth, as some sort of karmic equalizer. But no, Sweetie, for the sake of all things decent, don’t encourage us. We’re bad enough as it is.
It is now very clear that as a group, we are planning to take our cherished perceptions of our invincibility with us into old age, into the nursing homes, into dementia, probably unto our very deathbeds.
That’s pretty much what I gathered from the yelps of solidarity with the German dudes and their metal-inspired geriatric delinquency. A few bad knees, some replaced hips and a lot of lost brain cells aren’t going to stop us from being bad to the bone. No, sir. Not even a little. That is clear.
So, as I said before to the young folks, I’ll say again, as you can’t possibly know what you’re getting into.
It’s going to be a wild ride before you get us under the dirt.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.