Ever been in over your head? For me, I have never had the experience of diving in to something over my head. Ohhhh, no. It’s usually something that i dip my toe in, decide to go thigh high because i can handle the gentle swaying on my….hips?….., have no problem with the tugging of the water on my…torso…, and then…gulp!…. How did i get to floating flat on my back, hoping the fat content in my body and visualization of me with dorsal fins will keep me afloat in this pooh-storm?
Now that i think on it, it’s kind of my signature. In fact, if you are a distant, casual, or recent friend/relative/parent, you will have probably pulled me out of the pooh a few times. And honestly, the ones i really should be thanking are any recent/distant/casual guardian angels i’ve had the privilege of burning out. No, No! I have no illusion about me burning out my share, believe me. The latest one was last night. I’m going to chalk that one up to the guardian angel, lets call him Stan.
Stan and i went with a friend to a 5 band punk concert at a place i’m pretty sure my 2 oldest boys would think was Suuh-LAAAMIN. they would have been right. I ended up in a mosh-pit. I’m not dead, don’t worry. But that was the time that i went, “What the??? How did this happen?” Again, i didn’t walk in the doors, and stroll down the isle to the 12 men and 2 women/beasts that were a spinning vortex of smiles, booze, and aggression. No, i started out in a rational, mature state of mind.
As a side note, I had no idea there was mosh-pit etiquette. It goes like this:
1. Anyone, of any age, may mosh. Assuming you are allowed into the establishment in the first place. Basically, if you have the guts, we have the slams.
2. A few elbows to the ribs and shoulders are perfectly acceptable to the outside crowd near enough to reach. This lets them know you are interested in another partner (as the previous one just slammed her head on the cement floor again, got up laughing, but is a bit more woozy than normal.)
3. If anyone falls, all slamming and pushing ceases around that person while the guy/girl is picked up, dusted off, and put back on their feet, or carried to the nearest chair so they can finish bandaging the puncture wound that was inflicted by the woman with 5 inch stilettos, the result of a playful step on the forearm RIGHT before saying sorry and helping the unfortunate up. (p.s. the polite thing for the victim to do is to bleed OUTSIDE, so as not to alarm the rest of the crowd that moshing might be dangerous. no one needs to see blood when they are having a good time. really.)
4. Shaking a beer in a bottle and spraying it into the moshing mass and/or crowd that might be watching in horrified fascination is perfectly acceptable. This is what makes the night….interesting…. Please watch your step.
The logical thing would have been to get away from this if i was not interested. That would be logical, however, i was ALREADY IN OVER MY HEAD, being stuck between the stage, acting as bodyguard while my friend shot pics for the gig she had gotten, and the fight-or-flight-reflex I was supposed to rely on, being stuck in neutral. Again, this didn’t start out with the mosh pit. This started out with the 2nd experience as my friend’s (lets call her…Flo…) “assistant”.
Flo has the hookup to some great shows.
1 All-access press pass for her. CHECK.
1 evening of Look-the-other-way from the bouncers for me, the lucky friend that gets to schmooze backstage with the bands, joke with the M.C.’s and enjoy the music on the pretense of being an assistant to the “official” photographer for a local radio/internet station. CHECK.
Now, as i didn’t do the concert scene growing up, and feeling slightly ripped of for it, i had no problem living my teen years again, this time to see what i had been missing. (dip of the toe) Besides, i reasoned, it didn’t hurt to know what my boys were listening to now. (and it reaches my thighs) Lastly, i had already done this once and was an immense help to Flo, keeping people at a reasonable distance while she used the inside of the crowd/cattle guard fence to snap shots of the lead singer, bass, and drummers. (And, up to my bellybutton.)
A few differences this time around:
A. I had my own press pass.
B. I had more confidence.
C. There was no safety rail between the stage and the crowd.
D. Did i mention i had more confidence?
OKKKK. The night starts off on a great note. And if by great i mean the bands of choice were local scream bands, heavy on the drums and light on any intelligible words, then yes, great. I’m not knocking this genre of music. It’s just new to me. But, as an observer, i can handle this. (Key word in my sticky situations seems to be OBSERVER) The M.C. is hilarious and i’m enjoying an easy conversation with he and Flo, looking at potential spots for Flo to work her magic.
As the night progresses and the booze begin to flow, i again observe the distinct differences in logical choices people make on their first beer and their fourth. This is not new to me. where i grew up, there were not a lot of teenage things to do, so LOGICALLY, the crowd would turn to booze/partying (and toilet-papering trees/cars/people. Why? because we were bold, but not THAT bold.) My known role in this was always to watch others drink. I’ve been told i don’t need any alcohol for me to be a spaz. I think it’s true. I think most of you reading this know it for a fact. ANYHOOOO…..
Like i said before, enjoying the entertainment on stage, off-stage, and back-stage was great. I was not a mom, a wife, or a survivor of the days batterings of appointments, arguments, and daily decisions. Nope. I was just me, and living in the moment…. A moment that was lengthening into alarm.
I’m thinking the haze in the air wasn’t COMPLETELY from the smoke machine on stage after the 4th band. I’m thinking that front and center isn’t always a good idea, when the casual observation is that we are the shortest, most petite, and sanest people in the crowd. and I’m thinking that the black broken-in casual boots (you know, the ones with the deep crack running the width of the shoe on the left side?) will soak up whatever is on the floor. Dang it. This is when i look around, and that tingling sensation in my belly tells me i’m probably the only one in this place that doesn’t exactly fit. It’s ok, i reason to my belly. I’m just OBSERVING. Calm down. Back to looking for good shots, nice angles, and oh-click-on-the-fan-that-is-over-the-top-excited-and-tries-to-clamber-on-stage-but-her-shape-and-current-state-of-mind-prevents-it.
Fast forward to the last band. The headliner. The legend band that everyone has gotten keyed up to see. Silly me. I had NO idea what that meant. Did i put together the facts? nope. Did i put together the clues that were warning me to move to higher ground? NOPE. Lets recap, shall we?
1. lots of people, front and center, no safety rail whatsoever.
2. late at night/early morning, and lots of booze flowing.
3. 4 other scream bands to whip the crowd into a frenzy, waiting for the main attraction.
4. no body armor or spikes at ALL. Silly me. I’m just an observer. Plus i have Stan, my guardian angel, don’t i? he’s a good guy.
The M.C. introduces the band, the crowd goes wild, and the snapping of pics commences. At first, i actually thought i’d look at the stage and see the band. Or at least get through the band because, lets be clear, i was deaf from the noise, blind from the smoke, and my taste buds had turned to ash from wondering what was on the floor. (did i mention seeing the nice girl alternately yarking and squatting at the bottom of the stairs? All in good fun, i’m sure. She probably won’t even remember the reason i will have lengthened my therapy sessions by 3 visits.)
I turn to the stage and think thoughts like, “As an observer, i think this guy had the best power scream of the night. I am a bit put off by the drummer with spittle flying from his mouth. So this is what would be fun for my boys….” when WHAM! I’m elbowed in the neck. all in good fun, by the way. I turn around and see that the entire crowd behind me, Flo, and the 1st row has moved to make room for 14 entertainers who are checking for any other takers (thus the friendly elbow to the neck check). My thoughts immediately turn to Flo’s last statement, which was, “Can you create a bit of space on my left so i can concentrate and get steady shots without anyone jostling me?” and i think………ummm lets see if i can do this or not.
Side note. when getting ready to fend off a band of drunk hoodlums, do these things first:
1. plant your feet. check.
2. visualize the bubble of positive energy surrounding yourself and friend (learned in a moment of zen) Check.
3. get the attention of the woman next to you who, with 2 beers in her hand (drinking from both AT THE SAME TIME, might i add), readily decides to champion your cause by saying, “un gotcha baaak, yo.” And steps behind the oblivious FLO in her 4 inch heels, pushing and jostling the swirling assorted limbs coming at us, causing the ENTIRE MOSH PIT to come attack her, and us by proxy.
It was at this time that it occurred to me that i was no longer an OBSERVER. I was a PLAYER. Yo.
I’m thinking the bubble of energy worked. Or maybe the moshers saw the deer-in-headlights look on my face, and being the gentle-moshers that they are, took pity on me. Or who knows, they could have been taken in by the miracle of a woman chugging 2 beers at once. I choose to believe that Stan did a stand up job. The crowd missed me (and Flo) by millimeters, the beating that 2-beer bula took was welcomed and reciprocated, and time started ticking again.
My body regained feeling somewhere on the ride home.
Now the interesting thing is that, looking back, i find that Stan, or his predecessors, do a fantastic job of keeping me afloat through the pooh-storms. I just can’t figure out why i get so many chances. I’m thankful, though, don’t get me wrong.
I could tell you about the time the raft i was on flipped over and Flo and i went through the rapids on top of the raft, no handholds at all. (Flo still has the halo that was given to her for keeping me calm while my reflex was to splutter, cuss incoherently, and drown.) I believe Jethro was the angel on duty at that time.
Or i could expand on the time that i went on a train, current occupation as a newly licensed financial adviser, to visit family, but ended up chatting harmlessly with a wealthy, bored elderly gentleman who wanted nothing more than to pick my brain, be fascinated that i could be a mom/wife/career woman, and ultimately frown when he was turned down as i was invited back to his “cozy little car up front”.
Note to self: Do not divulge you know anything about money to a stranger in a confident way with no thought as to whether they will ask your advice, invite your opinion, shoot the hypotheticals, and eventually have a cozy 3-way chat with just you, the nice gentleman, and his stock guy. Even if it is all casual, hypothetical, and entertaining. My guardian angel that night was Evan. Now retired.
I could even touch on that one night as a teen in the back of a car with 2 very drunk just-turned-21 yr olds careening down a mountain path right through the surprised looks of 2 cops and 2 parents that just happened to be looking for us. this turns into a police chase and involves dumping 2/8ths of a ton of warm beer and other assorted alcoholic beverages on the front lawn of some lucky senior citizen, and ends with me eating mints on the doorstep of my mom’s house and knowing i’ll be yanked out of school.
WISH GRANTED. Nope, again i didn’t die, wasn’t harmed in any way and came out the better. Thanks Ed, Joe, and Bob the current guardian angels pulled from nearby to assist angel Jack with my current situation. But, i won’t bore you. Needless to say, I have a lot of thank you cards to write (FAX? PRAY? how does one get a thank you note to those shaking, retired angels from long ago? And maybe they would rather have brownies anyway….)
Each time, my reflexes are getting better. By the time i’m 80, i should JUST ABOUT be able to listen to the tingle in my belly before the waves go over my head and i pray that the pathetic doggy paddle will hold out a bit longer than the lack of good sense i seem to have. HMMMM i wonder if i’ll remember the doggy paddle when i’m 80….. Man i hope i haven’t run through all the sensible angels by then. Maybe i’ll get the goofy one that looks pretty but can only count up to potato…..