by: COURTESY OF THE WOODEN NICKEL, Fans rock out during the recent Pat Benatar concert at the Oregon Garden.

She taught us that love is a battlefield. The world is filled with heartbreakers. And most importantly, that girls can do anything boys can do - probably better.

All hail Pat Benatar - the diva, rock and roll icon and inspiration behind my new haircut and outlook on life. Sassy.

She's edgy, smart and proves that you should never do anything you're good at for free.

Benatar won her first Grammy before I was born. Yet, sitting in a sea of people my parents' age on Aug. 14 in Silverton's Oregon Garden for her concert, I was the one that couldn't help but feel honored.

It was hot - sweaty hot -perfect for an outdoor rock concert and my third time breathing the same air as the woman who declared her 'promises in the dark.' She's a different kind of rock and roll icon.

She seems so normal - a wife (married to her guitarist for two decades), mom to two daughters, business woman and traveling musician.

In our world of cluttered distractions - iPods, Internet, digital TV - there's something endearing about Pat's live show. It's real. Simple. Raw.

No costume changes.

No distracting dancers.

No pyrotechnics.

No swearing.

Just a chick. A microphone. And a band.

And they delivered exactly what the audience wanted - to hear the hits!

Before singing 'Hit Me with Your Best Shot,' Pat smiled and told the audience that she was tired of the song, 'but has to sing it.'

How honest. Hilarious. How wonderfully horrifying to spend more than half of your life making a fortune by uttering the exact same words.

How rock and roll.

In early television interviews, Pat explained that she wanted her career to be focused on her music, not her looks. She's classically trained but had the face of a pin-up star.

She can't avoid being a package deal, a five-foot tall explosion of emotion. Leotards. Black leather pants. Red lipstick. That voice.

She defined a generation and paved the way for young female singers everywhere. Like me.

Pat proves that a hit song is timeless. Her music is still relevant, strong and empowering. Her voice is still raspy and her fan base continues to expand. Talent doesn't retire. She's 55 and going strong.

Pat, thanks for another great show.

Sing it with me everyone, 'you're a heartbreaker, dream maker, love taker - don't you mess around with me.'

Honestly, who could mess with her?

Nicole DeCosta, Lake Oswego, is a staff reporter for the Lake Oswego Review and the West Linn Tidings, is the editor of the Homes section in both newspapers and is editor of the Style and Night On Town sections that run in several Community Newspapers. She also is a member of the local band, Macadam.

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