Herbietown - Cyndi Lauper

Cyndi Lauper

I saw Cyndi Lauper perform live yesterday.

I was attending a conference at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square. Cyndi Lauper performed right after lunch. I was dreading it all morning.

Conferences can be soul-crushing experiences. You show up to a windowless banquet hall, you don’t know anyone, and you have to sit there and listen to people give powerpoint presentations and try to sell you on some mundane new industry standard. There’s a reason Old School starts with Mitch at a conference.

It’s hard to think of anything more soul-crushing than watching Cyndi Lauper perform in front of a room of nerdy television executives, in the middle of the day. She is pushing 60 and I hate her music.

At least that’s what I was thinking when the lights dimmed and the curtains opened.

By the end, I was on my feet giving her a standing ovation.

I think she sang 3 songs. The first was some blues song I didn’t know. It was painful to watch her bounce around the stage. I kept worrying that she’d trip and break her hip. All I could think about was how old she looked, and how sad it was that she was reduced to playing in front of me at 1pm on a Thursday.

The song ended. She adjusted her shawl/shirt thing and said, “This outfit looked fun but I should have tried to dance in it first.” I looked up from my coffee, surprised at this exposed vulnerability. Then she started talking about Google – one of the sponsors of the conference – how much she uses google, how much she loves it, how she settles arguments with it, etc. We had been sitting in the conference room for 5 hours listening to people talk about bendable tablets and biometric televisions. The contrast was hilarious and she knew it.

I think her next song was Time After Time. I started to see her in a different light. She wasn’t attractive to look at, like an airbrushed swimsuit model, but she was authentic and she could definitely still sing. I started to listen to the lyrics. She had so much energy. I found myself tapping my foot.

After that song, she had to stop and retie her shoes.

She finished with Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. That song has painful associations for me – it falls into the same category as We Are Family. It reminds me of getting dragged out onto a dance floor at a wedding reception, by my cousin Melissa or my sister Eleni. It happened a lot when I was growing up and I hated it.

But this was different. She came into the crowd. She was into it. The song was about girls in 1980, but it was also about Cyndi Lauper in 2012. She hit and held the high notes beautifully, just when I believed she didn’t have it anymore.

She made me think about my Mom for some reason. How she liked to have fun, how she still likes to have fun, how I need to have more fun with her.

How the whole point of life is to have fun – even if, especially if, you’re in a conference at a Marriott hotel.