Sunday, May 20, 2007

Return Of The O.G.

I guess I’ve made it abundantly clear that I’ve lost something of my enthusiasm for concert-going.

Although some of it is age and health related, most of it has to do with today’s audiences. Each time I think I have witnessed the worst behavior I’ve ever seen at a show, someone shows up to prove me wrong.

Then why do you go? would be the logical question here. Well, it’s the wife, you see. Not only does she still love to attend these exercises in emotional cruelty, she thrives on them. Nothing but the front row will do, and she does not leave without a set list.

And god bless her for it. It means she still loves it.

I, conversely, usually find myself just that much more revolted by humanity.

Something about these events, rock shows especially, brings out the kind of people you imagine you’d be trapped with in Hell.

I don’t know what it is. I can’t figure it out.

I mean, there are recent stories I haven’t told you just because I’d rather forget them. Not to mention the fact that they paint a picture of me as a somewhat unstable crank, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

For example, there was the recent show where I complained to the management about the annoying man behind me and, receiving no satisfaction, I then proceeded to stand and point at him as if I were a bit player from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.

I think I frightened him because he changed his seat.

Tonight seemed like it would be far from the usual grouchy tableau. I had scored a comfortable stool on an upper balcony to watch Elvis Costello from, not to mention the wife, anxious and anticipatory in front of the stage. We called each other on our cells and waved.

I noticed quickly, however, that my stool had become stuck.

In between my stool and my neighbor’s on the right, there was a leg. The leg was connected to a gentleman who, finding that all the stools on this level had been taken and being loathe to sit any higher up, had decided to improvise by grabbing a stool from an upper balcony and placing it, tightly, behind the two of us so that we could not move. This way, by attempting to disappear into us, no one would notice that he didn't belong there.

He was practically spooning me.

Now we are in an enclosed area. People are welcome to stand behind us (the seated ones), but adding any more seats makes it difficult for folks to get by. So our new friend had done his level best to make certain that his molecules overlapped with ours, thereby creating a new seat on the level he preferred.

I threw around a few dirty looks and that seemed to do the trick. Things loosened back up considerably.

Now these kinds of confrontations have become not only tiresome to me, but clichéd. So I was intent on doing what I could to avoid another one. After all, poor fellow probably doesn’t even realize, etc., etc., salt of the earth probably, etc., etc.

The wife waved at me. She looked happy.

Shortly before the show started, however, I tried to stand up, something which shouldn’t be that difficult under the circumstances. I found to my surprise that my stool, once again, had been rendered immobile.

What to do, what to do?

It was time to appeal to his logic and reason.

“Excuse me, sir,” I said, “but are you trying to sodomize me? Because, in that case, I could just lean over the rail here.”

“Hey, if you need to get out,” he said, “I can still let you out. Especially if you’re a little more gracious about it.”

“Well, then, eat me,” I said.

This masterstroke of debate artistry seemed to conclude the matter.

The woman on my right leaned over to me and asked, “Is that guy annoying you, too?”


“Hey, we’re old punk rockers,” she said, “we know our way around a mosh pit. This guy can’t bother us.”

“Look at us now, though,” I said. “Upstairs in the old folks section sitting on padded barstools.”

“At least we can still sit.”

“Do you still go to many shows?” I asked her.

“Well, I teach dance and have daughters, so I have to keep up. I saw that Christina Aguilera.”

“My niece tells me she’s the only one of them that can sing. Of course, she’s also the niece most likely to throw her first-born out the window.”

“They’re all like that now,” she said.


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