When I asked my grandma to go to a Salt-N-Pepa concert with me, I assumed she would say no. At 62, she’s witnessed some incredible concerts: James Brown, Patti LaBelle, Prince and Selena. So I totally expected her to decline.
But then she surprised me: “Yes, let’s go.” My disbelief quickly turned into excitement — I was going to see Salt-N-Pepa with my grandma, my best friend and biggest inspiration. We were going to turn up and become the opening act for the rest of Salt-N-Pepa’s tour because of how wild we were. Sure, that last part didn’t happen, but we definitely turned up.
March 7, the day of the concert, came. We drove to El Paso, Texas’ Socorro Entertainment Center, and as we entered the venue, we were welcomed by popular ’80s and ’90s songs and the applause and cheers of people ready to dance and drink the night away. Here’s how the evening went down, exchange-by-exchange, between me and my grandma.
On “Turning Up”:
Elijah: Everyone is going to turn up for Salt-N-Pepa.
Karon: What does “turn up” mean?
Elijah: Like, go insane. Lose your mind. TURN UP!
Karon: I’m too old to turn up.
Elijah: You’re never too old to turn up. When you believe you can turn up, anything is possible.
On Old School Music:
Karon: Today’s music is nothing like the music your mom and I grew up on.
Elijah: Today’s music is good, too. But I get you.
*At this point my grandma has lost all interest in talking, screaming the lyrics to Bell Biv DeVoe‘s “Poison”*
Karon: NEVER TRUST A BIG BUTT AND A SMILE!
Elijah: This is the greatest moment of my life.
Karon: Back in the day you couldn’t get me off the dance floor. Now, though…
Elijah: You’re old, dude.
Karon: F— you, Eli.
On Seeing Me Dance:
Karon: You can actually dance.
Elijah: I told you I could.
Karon: When you were younger, you weren’t so rhythmically inclined. [Laughs.]
Elijah: When I went to the bar to get another drink, an older woman stopped me and said, “I like your moves. So much sex appeal.”
Karon: If you run into her again, tell her she has to get permission from me to dance with you.
Elijah: That’s embarrassing. If a man wants to dance with you, they don’t need to ask my permission.
Karon: No man here can handle all of this.
*Now I’ve encouraged (read: forced) my grandma into a dance circle. A 40-year-old woman is a part of the circle, and she’s bending backwards on some Matrix ish*
Karon: Girl, I wish I could still do that.
40-Year-Old Woman: As long as you’re still cutting up the floor!
Karon: Trying, trying. I just live vicariously through my grandson *She points to me*
40-Year-Old: You better appreciate your grandma. Not many grandmas would come with their grandson to a concert.
Elijah: She’s the realest.
*The circle is passing around an imaginary joint, and I’m so excited to pass it to my grandma to see what her response will be*
Karon: If I’m going to smoke, I want the real thing! Just kidding. I’m a teacher, so I’ll have to politely decline. *She then passes the imaginary joint to a person next to her* Puff, puff, pass, bro.
*Around 8:30, Salt-N-Pepa take the stage. People begin to raise their phones to take pictures and record, which my grandma doesn’t get*
Karon: Why’re they watching the concert through a screen, when it’s right in front of them?
Elijah: It’s how people take in concerts now. They want to relive the moment and share it with people.
Karon: But they’re kind of missing out on the moment right in front of them. They’re too busy taking pictures and videos and not enjoying the full experience, you know what I mean?
*I’m totally a part of the problem, recording some of the show*
Elijah: What’d you say?
Karon: Case in point.
*Salt-N-Pepa are going into “Whatta Man” and have called upon men in the audience to go onstage*
Karon: None of the men up there can dance. Go up there and show them how it’s done.
Elijah: Are you serious?
Karon: As if you haven’t danced onstage with Santigold or Big Freedia.
Elijah: How’d you know I danced onstage with Big Freedia? How do you know Big Freedia?
Karon: Hurry up and get up there so I can tell my co-workers that you danced with Salt-N-Pepa.
Elijah: Yes, ma’am.
*Less than two minutes go by*
Elijah: The security guard didn’t let me.
Elijah: It’s probably a good thing. Salt-N-Pepa totally would’ve taken me on tour with them.
Karon: N—a, please.
*As Salt-N-Pepa go through some strange medley of popular rock songs that include Guns N’ Roses‘ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and Nirvana‘s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the group ends their concert with “Push It”*
Karon: You can tell everyone came for this song.
Elijah: Of course. It’s a banger and it’s been used in a Geico commercial. A GEICO COMMERCIAL. Plus it serves an important part in Grandma’s Boy.
Karon: What’s Grandma’s Boy?
Elijah: It’s a movie about a guy who has to live with his grandma because his roommate never paid rent on time. But one of the best parts of the movie is when this girl that the grandson is seeing drunkenly performs “Push It.”
Karon: CAN’T YOU HEAR THE MUSIC PUMPING HARD LIKE I WISH YOU WOULD?
Elijah: So did you hear what I said about the movie?
*My grandma is doing the “Push It” dance and I’m overwhelmed with happiness*
Karon: I can’t keep that up. If I had, you would’ve had to carry me out of here.
Elijah: It would’ve been worth it. You’re the coolest, grandma.
Karon: I know.