There are those who would call it unfortunate luck. I tend to believe it is a highly developed sixth sense, recognized early on and carefully nurtured over the years. As a shaman attains an almost mythical tribal status through conversing with netherworld spirits, so have I elevated myself to unthinkable heights as a medium of idiocy, a clairvoyant of the moronic, a visionary of stooge like behavior.
Reinforcing this belief are the following incidents, cultivated from concert experiences I have endured ... witnessed and verifiable through friends, family and/or minor acquaintances whom I may have coerced through excessive force. Draw your own conclusions ...
• Fresh out of high school, I attended my first major music event. Several late ‘70’s rock bands at an outdoor venue seemed like the perfect show ... or so we thought. Unfolding his frayed nylon, aluminum-framed lawn chair, he plopped his shirtless hulk down and settled in with a friendly nod in our direction. With a sleight of hand David Copperfield would be proud of, he produced a brown paper lunch sack, emptied its multi colored pharmaceutical contents into the palm of his hand, and swallowed the whole lot without chewing. Amazingly, 15 minutes passed before he collapsed, unconsciously nose diving into the sod, where he lay motionless for several hours, the chair folded over his skyward facing behind.
• Regularly attending blues festivals across the Midwest for nearly 25 years now, I always seem to cross paths with a guy I will call “Bernie.” This is because everyone else called him “Bernie.” An almost translucently pale man, he would, without fail, severely sunburn himself over the course of the weekend. And while it was quite obvious he possessed no innate rhythm, he would dance, his movements inhabiting the middle ground between a Bantu pygmy fertility dance, and that of a methamphetamine addict being tazered into submission by police.
• I once found myself on a hot summers eve at the Mississippi Valley Fair, anxiously awaiting ZZ Top to take the stage, sandwiched between (and fondly known as) the Toad Sisters ... three rotund, semi-toothless, chain smoking, Busch beer swilling, Nascar driver T-shirt wearing, curse like a sailor “ladies” who insisted on loudly singing all the wrong words in off key harmonies and complaining about how the scantily clad, attractive younger women were dressed. Thank God for summer breezes and loud PA systems.
• Jeffrey, The Yellow Rocker, made his mark at the Naperville Rib fest during Sammy Hagar’s energetic set. He was, as he drunkenly informed anyone within earshot, the biggest Sammy fan in the world. Jeffrey then proceeded to air guitar his way over several nearby patrons, sloshing beer and BBQ sauce on them before becoming entangled in a lawn umbrella, at which time he made a peace offering of one of the 30 autographed Hagar LPs he had stashed in his backpack.
• At a small venue in Bloomington, I unfortunately found myself standing directly behind a couple exhibiting two of the largest heads I’ve yet encountered. Seemingly 7 feet tall at the peak of their craniums, it was (whether from the amount of liquor they were ingesting, or the immense weight of their noggins) like standing behind a pair of Macy’s Thanksgiving parade balloons in a stiff breeze. Teetering from side to side, they effectively blocked 90 percent of the stage, leaving us with only a partial view of the bass player.
There have been countless others, all cataloged with a giddy excitement much like that which Charles Darwin must have felt while sketching the endless species of the Galapagos.
I wonder what they noticed about me ...
Chuck Mason, a self-described opinionated wiseguy, resides in Princeton. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.