Led by a genderless angel and queer punk icon, Adult Mom's most popular song on Spotify, “Be Your Own 3AM” now has over 2 million plays. At just over two minutes, the dreamy tune about holding your own hand and being there for yourself resonates deeply with many listeners. Still, it took on a new meaning to me as I watched the tune performed live last week after my date stood me up.
Now, I have always loved going to things alone. When it comes to events hosted by the (a little too) interconnected bunch that fancy themselves the, ahem, “DIY scene,” I prefer my attendance to be like any good lo-fi song — short and independently produced. But this was not a night that I planned to be alone. It wasn’t an “I’m taking myself out!” date. It was a full-blown, thoughtfully-planned-in-advance, two-person date. Like, I-secretly-bought-two-tickets, asked-someone-to-be-free-two-weeks-in-advance, planned-a-whole-surprise-dreamy-night kind of date. I was laying all my cards on the table — which is, let me tell you, not an easy move for a Capricorn.
To add some extra awww factor, Adult Mom had played in Philly around the same time last year, at the same exact venue. A show that, unbeknownst to us, my would-be date and I had both attended by ourselves. Perhaps in a Russian Doll-esque, multiple universe situation, this was the night we could have first talked, fulfilling some sort of indie movie meet-cute we could humble-brag to hipsters about forever. (We 1,000 percent matched on Tinder).
I didn’t tell my would-be date what we were doing, but I had told them to be free. I un-casually reminded them of this every few days. I picked the cutest place for dinner: A cash-only speakeasy tucked in the attic of an Ethiopian restaurant that’s full of twinkle lights and banging injera, only known about through word of mouth. What can I say? I like expensive sour beer, I only listen to music written by women and queer folks, and yes, I've already owned and given away of a pair of white chunky Fila sneakers. I am a card-carrying member of "the scene" I love to mock, (which is perhaps why Adult Mom’s Twitter is so incredibly resonate).
Right before the show, I called my date from the supermarket (a tactic I use to force myself to feign "casual" on the phone). I could hear something off in their voice, and immediately tensed up. My mind went haywire. They hated me. They thought I was too much. They were dumping me, even though we weren’t dating. With my phone nestled between my cheek and shoulder, I picked through bags of pre-cut kale and tried to let them finish their sentence without interrupting. That morning, they had received some seriously bummer news and weren't feeling up for a night out. I tried to keep listening, but ultimately exploded. “Uh, Adult Mom is playing in Philly tonight, and I got us tickets, but I get if you’re not really in the mood.”
When I told them that the show was being held in the same venue as last year's, they replied, “Aww, this is like the same show that we were both at alone but didn’t know each other yet.” I threw two bags of kale into the basket and violently directed my cart towards the dairy section. Yes. It is like that. I thought to myself, through gritted teeth.
I tried to understand how I felt. First my defensiveness started. They were never going to go to this concert with me. They obviously don’t even like me. There have been so many signs. I’m such an idiot. But then, I channelled all the Cancers in my life and let my patience and compassion kick in. The news they got sucked. It blew. And them taking the time and space they need to heal wasn't reflective of their interest in me. You can like someone and need a night alone. You can be super into someone and still stand them up because something really did come up. And honestly, I kind of respect the idea of asking for a raincheck instead of forcing yourself to go out when you're just not up for it.
Still, there was no way I was missing the concert. So I did it. I went on the date that I had meticulously planned for the two of us — all by myself. Earlier that day, I had found out that my friend’s band was opening. They even (very graciously) told me that they could get me in for free. I didn’t mention that I had actually already bought, ahem, two tickets, because getting to say, “I’m on the list” is a Capricorn’s wet dream. I brought them a chocolate cream egg from the Rite Aid as a thank you.
As I watched my friend on stage, I realized that I met them about a year ago at a basement show, with weird music playing — a perfect friendship meet-cute. We were an ideal artsy movie duo, with all the Goodwill selfies and handmade presents to prove it. After their set, we snuck out between bands to eat french fries and listen to Liz Phair CDs. We chatted about my date that fell through. I felt seen, understood, and comforted. Although I had intended that night to be tender and sentimental in a romantic way, I welcomed the unexpected and platonic intimacy.
My friend and I retuned to the show just as Adult Mom started to play. We made our way into the middle of the masses. I spotted yet another band person that I have crush on in the crowd and un-casually took off my blazer, in hopes that they would see my Dixie Chicks tattoo and fall in love with me (it didn’t work).
Steph, the front-person of Adult Mom, was the first other non-binary person I ever encountered in "the media". Their Sometimes Bad Happens EP, which I can recite every word of, was the soundtrack to all of the late nights I spent in liberal arts school, crying in the shower surrounded by boxes of hair dye, trying to find the words to express my identity. My relationship to their music is ultimately own. They remind me that I'm full and complete, no matter who I’m sleeping with or who’s paying for my dinner.
A quick Google search will show you, there are tons of benefits of spending time alone (although my personal favorite is this 2014 Computers In Human Behavior study, which found sending teens into the wilderness improved their understanding of nonverbal emotional cues). Going to this show alone felt less like getting stood up and more like a healthy reminder to continue to love things on my own, in my own way — no matter my romantic status.
When you find someone who wants to do all the weird things that you like to do, who kisses your forehead, or calls you just to say hello, it can be easy to forget that you’re a whole person without them, and that you can still do fun things by yourself. But in fact, it's healthy (and fun) to do so.
Did it hurt my feelings to be bailed on last minute? Yes. But I recognize that my date's decision to stay in wasn’t really about me. No matter the occasion, prioritizing your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing should always come first. It’s OK to take a raincheck — single, dating, or even married. And it's more than OK to to take yourself out on the dream date that you planned for two, all by yourself. As Adult Mom says, “You gotta' be your own 3 a.m.” — but I'd like to think that you gotta be your own person all day, everyday.