It’s Tough Being the Opener to the Opening Act

a very bored looking small child sitting in camping chair, viewed from behind
Image by frankieleon / CC BY

It’s tough being the opener to the opening act.

The lead singer handles it all with grace: It’s a subdued crowd. Half the audience is at concessions. Fueling up for the rest of the show. Getting their crab fries and Cokes before the band they came to see goes on.

Only one woman in the entire amphitheater is standing up. Singing along. Swaying with her beer can held up high in the air. Everyone else is seated. Milling. Engrossed with their phones.

“How many of you all are excited to see THE OPENING ACT?” she shouts at the crowd, between songs.

The fans cheer back at her, at a moderate volume.

“How about THE MAIN EVENT?”

The fans scream. Lose their fool minds.

She smiles charitably. Tucks a strand of blond hair behind her ear. Launches into the next number. But I can swear that behind all the flash and performer’s polish, I detect a hint of disappointment. She knows she’s playing third fiddle here.

But because she’s a professional, she plays like her life is ending.

Cognition Bobs and Weaves

On the drive home from the concert, I wonder if I’m just projecting my own anxieties onto the singer. My struggles with feeling overshadowed at times. The form of jealousy that makes you feel small. Invisible. Interchangeable.

Yes, me. Even though I’m fairly secure as a person. Have been polyamorous for quite a while. At this point, I’m good at sharing my partners. And at sharing my time and attention.

The sheer logistics of it all underscore to me that I can’t possibly be top of mind for everyone I love all the time. My partners enjoy a variety of other interests — and yes, they all see other people. Some are rather active daters.

And I’m glad they have other things going on. For their own happiness and because it makes them more interesting to know.

Plus, it’s difficult enough to try to be one person’s Everything. The pressure of trying to do that for three people? Unbearable.

But even so, I still run into circumstances that try me. Behaviors that push my buttons. Phone snubbing when I’m trying to talk to a partner about something that matters to me. Or being interrupted mid-sentence while they point out someone cute they know I’ll also find attractive.

I know how attention works. The way cognition bobs and weaves. I know it doesn’t mean anything when something (or someone) else temporarily captivates our interest. And yet, sometimes I can’t help but feel that fleeting disappointment that it’s not my moment anymore. My moment has passed. It’s on to the next new shiny.

Because it’s one thing to be able to reason out that you’re not the main event. Another altogether to have it demonstrated for you so plainly. And openly.

Defying Expectations

But then again, expectations can deceive us. That’s the other thing I learned from that lead singer. The band that came on next? Completely underwhelming. The frontman was obnoxious. The music, middling. Okay, the main event was great. But the second band? Garbage.

And that first band? The opener’s opener? I’m still thinking about them, days from when I first heard them play.

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My book is out!

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory

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