Earlier this month, I went to a Taylor Swift concert in Ottawa with my seven-year-old daughter, Lily. Upon hearing this news, the most common reaction from people was, “Why didn’t your wife go instead?”
The reason for this is that we actually had two pairs of tickets to the concert, but the seats were in different parts of the arena. We each took one of our daughters because they are too young to go to concerts on their own. If the tickets were all four in a row, I’m sure I would have been replaced by somebody with a higher estrogen level. In this scenario, my oldest daughter would have brought one of her friends and my name would have been 47th on the list of potential invitees. “Okay, Dad, that girl from my Brownies troop three years ago can’t make it. Turns out, she moved to Ecuador. Do you want to come to the concert?”
But as it stood, I was going to this concert and knew that I would be in the minority. In fact, the rumours had already circulated that many of the men’s washrooms inside the arena would be converted into women’s restrooms for the night based on the level of demand. This was going to be like going to a taping of The View—only I would be surrounded by 10,000-plus screaming tweens.
So, on the off chance that you’re a father that has to attend an upcoming Taylor Swift concert, I’ve got some tips on how to handle the situation.
1. Don’t worry: There will be some men in the show.
A good chunk of Swift’s dance team is made up of men, so at least you’ll have some male company inside the stadium. The bad news, though, is that they’re all chiselled and sculptured men who have six-pack abs and zero body fat. (In fact, while scrolling through my wife’s iPhone to look at her concert pics, I found an extraordinarily high number of close-up shots of these male dancers.) But if you see these guys on stage, don’t be intimidated by them; just be patient. They’ll start getting hair on their backs, and their finely tuned physiques will slowly morph into Dad Bods in about 15 to 20 years.
2. Do your research.
Make sure to do some advance research on Swift so that you’ll know some of the lingo and buzzwords associated with her. If someone asks you if you like T-Swizzle, don’t respond by saying “Sure, I would love some Twizzlers right now.” That will make you sound like you’re out of touch—and possibly hard of hearing.
3. There will be some music for you to enjoy.
Before the concert started, they played Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy” and Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now.” As a nice touch for Swift’s 1989 World Tour, they play music from the calendar year she was born in before the concert so that thirtysomethings like me can feel cool again.
Hearing music from 1989 can be a perfect opportunity to talk to your daughter about your own childhood. So I said to Lily, “In 1989, your dad was 12 years old and loved playing video games and eating Jolly Ranchers, and he had a crush on Alyssa Milano.” Then, after a few moments, I said to her, “Wait, actually all those things are still true today.”
4. Get the lyrics right.
Chances are, you probably know three or four Swift songs because you are constantly chauffeuring your daughters around in a vehicle that is only allowed to play Top 40 hits. But if you’re at the concert and you decide to sing along, make sure you actually know the real lyrics. For example, in “Blank Space,” she has a line that says, “Got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane,” but if you’re an out-of-touch dad, you will likely think she is saying “Got a lonely Starbucks lover, they’ll tell you I’m insane.” Don’t make that mistake because you will be eviscerated by your tween-age seat mate.
5. Don’t be offended by some of the lyrics.
Speaking of “Blank Space,” there is a key part of the lyrics that states, “Boys only want love if it’s torture.” As one of the 18 men in a crowd of 13,500, that type of comment could make things awkward for me. The whole place is going crazy and everyone is agreeing that boys are bad news. Instead of being ashamed to be a man, use it as an opportunity to talk about how dating boys isn’t good—and is something that should be delayed until your daughter turns 27.
6. Don’t be jealous of Taylor Swift’s speech on anti-bullying.
About halfway through her show, Swift took the microphone and gave a prolonged speech about cyberbullying and staying positive. The girls in the audience were totally captivated by her words, as Swift talked about the importance of not worrying about what other people think of you. This portion of the concert served as another reminder of why Swift appears to be a solid role model for young girls.
Midway through this speech, you’ll realize that you’ve given your own daughter this exact same talk—possibly word for word—but it’s usually met with eye rolls and indifference. However, when T-Swizzle says these words, they suddenly carry meaning. As a father, you shouldn’t be upset that Swift’s words resonate more than your own. Instead, you should be thinking about other speeches she could be giving your daughter. So, Taylor, if you end up reading this post, please think about adding the following elements to your speech:
“Girls, I can’t stress this enough: Please turn off the lights in any room that you leave. Your parents need to save money on the utility bill each month.”
“Show of hands, how many of you think it’s okay to open a window when the air conditioning is on inside your house?”
“As a celebrity, there is one thing that really bothers me: shoes that are just left in a front entrance way. Let’s all make a pact tonight to put our shoes in the closet forever…. Who’s with me?”
7. Be sure to acknowledge other dads on your way out.
When leaving the stadium, you will probably pass a smattering of fellow dads. Make sure to make eye contact with them—possibly giving a supportive head nod or gesture that indicates “Nice work, man. See you at the Katy Perry concert in November.”
You may also see a number of dads who are idling in their vehicles outside the stadium, just serving as chauffeurs. These guys were given instructions to drop off at 7 p.m. and pick up at 10 p.m. Those dads deserve a dirty stare because they probably spent the last three hours eating chicken wings and watching whatever they wanted on TV.
Follow along as Ottawa-based sports radio host Ian Mendes gets candid about raising his daughters, Elissa and Lily, with his wife, Sonia. Read all of Ian’s The Good Sport posts and follow him on Twitter @ian_mendes.