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Lisa Belkin Headshot

To The Dad At The Bruce Springsteen Concert

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To the young woman sitting right in front of me at the Springsteen concert Wednesday night:

I am so glad you enjoyed the show. How great that the Boss now fills arenas like Fenway with audiences that span the decades. There's me, the old guard, who listened to Bruce in college back when we still aimed huge speakers out the windows onto the quad. And there's you -- I am guessing you are all of 15 -- drawn by music that speaks to all generations.

I'm not sure you actually had a chance to notice what was on the set list, though, what with the amount of time you and your boyfriend -- I'm pegging him at 17, maybe 18 -- spent pawing at each other. Those of us in the row behind you tried not to watch you -- really we did. But between his hands down your shirt, and those arching-your-back-so-your-head-was-literally-in-my-husband's-lap-while-you-explored-each-other's-tonsils moments, it became tough to look away.

To the (12-year-old?) boy sitting next to Romeo and Juliet:

At first I was so embarrassed for you, having to spend nearly four hours getting a biology lesson from these strangers. Then I realized she was your sister. The music, blessedly, masked much of her moaning and slurping. But we did hear you comment once or twice: "That's gross. Cut it out."

We want you to know that we agreed.

To the man, sitting next to the boy, his sister and her lover:

Really? You are her FATHER? And you didn't once suggest that this was not the time or place? You didn't offer to switch seats with your son to provide a buffer -- and maybe send a message? You did leave a bit early, I noticed (perhaps it was past both your youngsters' bedtimes?) and you should know that our row applauded your exit. We were strangers when the concert began but became friendly in our mutual discomfort. I shared many a rolled eye with the off-duty Boston cop to my left, for instance, who'd been wondering (mostly jokingly) whether there were grounds for an "endangerment of minor" arrest.

We are not a bunch of prudes. We were all 15 (or whatever) once. We think Springsteen is sexy, and his concerts disinhibiting, and we are all for having a good time. But, as it happens, your personal audience in the next row are also parents, and we can't imagine sitting by while one of our children "proved it all night" with her boyfriend in front of another of our children.

Were you trying to be the "cool" parent? Is that your chosen style? Do you hope that by acting laid-back and nonchalant, by accepting any and all demonstrations of your daughter's sexuality, you will make her comfortable talking to you about anything?

If so, please talk to her about intimacy. And privacy. And not mortifying her brother.

And I hope you have already had many talks about birth control. Or next year there is likely to be another generation in your row.