Harry Styles has a cold or a hangover or a broken heart. Still, the Jumbotron tightens its focus as he prepares for another moment of intensity. The sudden silence and deep stare. The heavy breathing and tossed, greased hair. I’ve seen him nail it dozens of times. He’ll lift the mic to damp, open lips, sharpen his blue steel, and bore a message of love into the sea of screaming fans. The girls’ response is tidal, shrieking solid as a brick wall. Though tonight Styles seems slightly off. He’s tired. His eyes wander and shift. Tonight it’s late August all over the world.
One Direction has sold out Gillette Stadium. That’s 70,000 people in the New England Patriots’ home arena. A generous tally would have a hundred males in attendance. Most of these men are fathers checking sports scores on their devices, ignoring their daughter’s hysterical antics. There are no boys at 1D shows except the boys. The boyfriends stayed away, as did 1D’s gay fans despite the lush homoeroticism of Harry, Zayn, Liam, Niall, and Louis strutting onstage in tight jeans. This is Girl Land….
I ask my husband what he thinks of 1D.
“They make serviceable pop songs.”
“I don’t know,” he confesses. “It’s kind of like I have Stockholm Syndrome.” But he doesn’t even realize that “Stockholm Syndrome” is the title of a 1D song. “Know what I mean?” he asks.
In my house, I have 1D duct tape, sunglasses, T-shirts, calendars, wrapping paper. I know what he means.