I have owned my dragon pants for ten years, making them one of the oldest items of clothing I have in my wardrobe. They were purchased from a stall in a mall in Toronto when I went there to visit my cousins on a gap year. (I am somewhat proud that, if anything, they fit better now than when I was 19.) They are somewhat hard to describe, which is why I’m including a photo of them here. They came with a matching top, and ever since then I’ve wished I had bought it, but I hadn’t really got the money even for the dragon pants themselves, so it wasn’t going to happen.
They are probably the most unique item of clothing I own. When I was at Uni I used to hang around with some vaguely Gothy friends, largely because I went to Durham University and after the first week’s shock at being surrounded by posh public school kids wore off, those of us who were in any way “different” swiftly banded together for support. We used to go to Krash rock / alternative club in Newcastle, as it was then, and jump up and down to “Jump Around” whilst swigging vile alcopops. It was the sort of place where people danced so madly you had to wear Doc Martins if you wanted to return with all your toes intact, and I was vaguely unnerved the first time I went in, but the magic dragons worked their spell. Krash had UV lights, and the dragons glow purple underneath it. I would have Goth chicks with layers of make-up that could double as armour and piercings in places I hadn’t known piercings could be (I had a sheltered upbringing) coming up to me and going “Awesome dragons!”.
In short, they are fantastic. However, they can only be worn on days when I’m feeling really confident and kick-ass, since it is impossible to wear them and not be noticed. Did a trip to see My Chemical Romance merit the dragons, I wondered? I wanted to wear them, but I would be going in on the bus… on my own. I knew no-one else who liked My Chemical Romance, and frankly I’d rather not see a band I really love than see them in the company of someone who’s sitting there hoping things will all soon be over. What’s the point? Perhaps I’m over-sensitive to other people’s feelings, but this was my present to myself.
Presented to myself with not a little trepidation, since the last time MCR played at the arena (in 2007) it didn’t go so well, with the crowd not being as enthusiastic as the band would have liked, and Gerard Way screeching at them to get up and jump. I’ll admit, I was somewhat put off by this. On the one hand, I guess that there are few things more frustrating than giving it your all in front of a crowd who can’t be bothered (and if you’re a rock star, bad days at the office happen in front of thousands of people). On the other, there will have been people in that audience for whom that gig will have been a big, big, deal (MCR attract that sort of fan) and who will have been jumping up and down with all their might, and having their favourite band’s frontman cursing them out won’t have been much fun for them. In the end, I decided that I’d kick myself for the rest of the year if I missed the chance to see them live, and I was going to take the chance. If it turned out they were awful, then so be it; I’ve been disappointed before.
In the end, and in a similar vein, I decided it, it, I’m wearing my dragons, ate tea, and caught the bus to Central Station, where I blended in with the stream of people wearing some variation on black. Pleasingly, I was not the only person over the age of 15 there; there were certainly a few teenies, but also quite a few who, like me, fit into the “old enough to know better, young enough not to care” bracket. The steward on the road block shouted “Nice dragons!” at me, and I acknowledged him with a grin. I wandered into the arena and peered in at the stage. Skinny men with guitars were making a racket, but since it was 8pm it was the support act (Blackout) and I wasn’t that bothered (sorry, Blackout fans).
I wandered around the merchandise stalls vaguely wondering whether to buy stuff or get a drink and go inside and have a listen, and contemplated that well-known question: When the hell did my life get so boring? This was the first time in months I’d done something purely for myself, and if you think that makes me sound selfish, then I thought that too – and realised that I don’t care. Why shouldn’t I throw all of my energies into making my own life better? What I’ve been doing so far hasn’t secured me any of the things that I want for my life. I’m nearly 30 and my apologising for myself, thinking of others, trying to be a better, more considerate person, seems to have got me absolutely nowhere. Why shouldn’t I have more fun and do more things based on what’s best for me?
My musings upon the meaning of life were interrupted by a thousand-to-one encounter with a friend, who, like me, had not told anyone where he was. We had the following exchange:
“You told anyone you’re here?”
“Nope. You told anyone you’re here?”
“Are you kidding?”
We drank our pints, swapped tales of graphic novels and gigs, and dislikeable colleagues, and wandered in for just before 9.