Most pediatricians will tell you that an infant begins babbling at about six months, stringing together nonsensical groups of syllables as she sits in her little high chair. And most moms will tell you that this milestone is more than welcome. After the countless exhausting nights, revolting diaper changes, and projectile spit-ups, a lot of moms live to hear the sound of the ga-ga.
And then there are others who live to hear the sound of the Gaga.
It began with Callie’s husband Paul wanting to surprise her for her birthday. With two precocious preschool-age daughters, a high-pressure career, and a nanny demanding time off for a boob job, Callie deserved a night out. And she got one: Paul bought her six tickets to the sold-out Lady Gaga show in Boston, and rented a blinding white limousine for good measure. Callie’s only instructions were to invite her mom friends and to have a great time.
The limo lumbered through the city streets as it picked up its giddy, glittery charges. For most of us, it was a welcome opportunity to wear “going out” clothes and splashy makeup. Giddiest and glitteriest was Deb, who has three children under age four and was tickled at the prospect of not having to feed, change, bathe, or burp anyone all night. Bottles of booze were opened; champagne was uncorked. It was a quick ride that featured all the artificial glamour a rented limousine provides (crushed velvet upholstery, piped-in radio, plastic glassware), and we made the most of every moment.
At the stadium, we struggled to stay together as we made our way to our seats. Throngs of tween and teen girls dressed as the lady herself choked the areas surrounding the many kiosks, pushing and jostling as they purchased their Monster Ball concert T-shirts and tote bags. Small groups of gay men were everywhere, as were sleekly dressed twenty-something women. We spotted a gaggle of elementary school-age girls being chaperoned by two dads; these men looked beleaguered before the show had even begun and were clearly good sports. Couples dotted the audience, and there were even a handful of much older fans. We saw no other groups of mommies going Gaga. At the very least, we felt almost certain that there were no other concertgoers wearing nursing pads.
And then the show began. Eye-popping costumes, fantasy sets, elaborate choreography. Giant screens flashing high-concept videos and saucy messages. Glitter and dramatic lighting. Pure artifice, in other words – the complete opposite of the day-to-day universe inhabited by moms everywhere, a universe defined by nose wiping and trips to the grocery store. As Lady Gaga preened, sang, and shrieked her words of empowerment, we screamed.
Johanna, a mom of two who early on announced her intention to visit the beer counter as many times as possible and delivered on that promise, teetered on her heels as she shouted the lyrics to “Poker Face.” Anne looked positively blissed-out when Lady Gaga sang, “That boy is a monster/That boy is a monster,” knowing that her husband would be the one dealing with her twin boys’ tantrums that evening. Sasha just closed her eyes and swayed during “Alejandro.” It had been a long time since any of us had felt the sort of sexy, growl-y emotion articulated by Lady Gaga in that song. It’s just not possible; the duties of parenting always trump passion, as any mom will tell you. So it wasn’t hard to imagine what Sasha was thinking.