Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Paul McCartney in Houston

I finally saw a Beatle after listening to their music for 42 years. And what would the chances be, out of around 20,000 people in the Toyota Center, I'd be seated next to drunkest person in the house?

The night got off to a promising start. We bought our tickets the night of the concert -- floor seats, Section E, row 14, seats 1 & 5. Two seats together couldn't be purchased since it was the night of the concert, but we figured we'd just trade with someone in order to sit together, since the atmosphere of the night was bound to be overflowing with peace, love and understanding.

Standing in line waiting to go in, we met a 14-year-old girl and her mother from Suglar Land. The teen-ager was the big Beatles fan. She had all their music, read all the books. I couldn't tell her anything she didn't already know, including the fact that the original manuscript for the new Beatles bio came in at 2,000-plus pages. The kid already had asked for the book for Christmas.

Once inside, we found our seats. I went ahead and sat in Seat 2 next to my executive assistant. Finally a fellow comes in alone and sits down in Seat 4. I strike up a conversation, hoping to befriend the guy before the music starts to pave the way for the seat reshuffling. He immediately launches into an explanation of what a big influence the Beatles has been on him, his family and all his friends. Oh, you play? I used to, he said. Then he started mumbling and jabbering in a language I didn't understand, and I realized, uh-oh, he's really, really drunk. I don't think he ever comprehended that I told him my actual seat was seat #5, next to his seat #4, but that I wanted to sit in seat #2.

I backed off, not wanting to encourage further conversation. He'd say something that appeared to be directed at me, I'd look at him briefly, smile, and shake my head yes, then turn away quickly.

When the music started, the other two people on our aisle hadn't shown up. So it was me and my executive assistant in seats 1 & 2, seat 3 empty, seat 4 occupied by the drunk and seat 5 unoccupied.

But after the first song started, the two other people showed up, a guy and his date. They slid in between me and the drunk. The whole crowd was standing, of course, so it wasn't a problem, but soon enough, the guy looks at his ticket and says he has seat #2. I tell him, over the din of the music, that I wanted the guy to our left so slide over a seat to make room. He tries to talk to the drunk but isn't getting through. I try to talk to him and he looks at me confused. But everyone's still standing, so it's not really a problem.

Still, it's an 2-hour-plus concert, and there comes a time to sit down (this is, after all, a middle-aged crowd).

The guy next to me tries to ask the drunk to slide over again and he suddenly blows up, launching a few F-bombs and inexplicably saying he offered to switch seats with me before the music started and I "f'ing" didn't want to.

I excused myself, get up and make my way to the bathroom, thinking when I return I'll just plop myself down in seat #5. No big deal, really.
But when I get back I find my executive assistant in seat #4, formerly occupied by the drunk, and seat #3 sitting there for me, while the guy and his date are in seats 1 & 2, happy as clams. They even insisted on high 5'ing me and my assistant, apparently relieved there was no physical violence to mar the evening.

What happened, I asked my EA?

She said she simply told the guy and his date to let her handle the drunk. She moved over next to where he was standing and asked him if he was having a great time. He was! He was! He pointed over to a friend of his, Jerry, who sitting in the next section. Jerry, apparently, is a musician, and the drunk kept yelling at him, waiving him, and saying he thinks Jerry's gonna get up on stage with McCartney any minute for a guest turn on the guitar. The executive assistant waves and hollers at Jerry, too.

While they're both standing and the music's going full tilt, my executive assistant every minute or so would scootch her left leg over a few inches and sidle to the left. After a song's worth of this shuffling she was standing in front of seat #4 and the drunk was in front of seat #5. When the time was exactly right, she plopped down in seat #4. The drunk didn't say a word. He was just happy to be in the midst of Sir Paul and looking forward to see his friend Jerry take the stage with the living legend (which didn't happen, by the way.)

The rest of the concert went well. I even liked the Wings songs, and I was never a big Wings fan. Best Beatle song of the night? I'd vote for "I've Got a Feeling," followed close by "I'll Follow the Sun," "Please, Please Me" and "Hey Jude."

The rest of the concert was super, but just after the first encore, the drunk leaned over and hurled in the seats in front of us. Luckily, the people in front were standing, not seated. The drunk lurched out and exited into the night. The row in front of us cleared out, too, and we followed suit, in order to avoid the stench, though we stayed within hearing distance on the concourse to catch the last few songs.

All in all, despite the problems, a splendid time was guaranteed for all, and a splendid time was had by all, even though Henry the Horse did not dance the anticipated waltz.


Anonymous said...

Banjo, strongest argument I've heard recently for a rejection of alcohol as the baby boomers concert recreational drug. Argues for a return to the less destructive ones of bygone years.

BTW, what's soon-to-be governor Friedman's policy on control/liberalization of recreational drug use?

Anonymous said...

I thought I got all the drunks -- probably some sort of instant karma payback -- the shrill drunk woman who tried to sing to john prine, the crazy drunk woman who wanted to dance with me to Dylan of all people and the yuppie pig drunk woman who could't quit blathering about when she first saw springsteen way back in '97. I'm with the dude who say a change in recreational drug preferences is in order. booze and tobacco -- the legals. what idiots.

87th and cicero
sside chicago (home of the real sox)

ttyler5@hotmail.com said...

Geeze, man!

When I was going to concerts, the only people passing out and/or throwing up were the people on qualudes, mescaline, acid, any barbituate you can name, and the ones ODing on smack and morphine!

This is to say nothing of the drug dealers in the bathroom shooting it out with the cops, while I was trying to take a peaceful constitutional.

Lou Minatti said...

Why would someone show up wasted for a McCartney concert? Don't you want to REMEMBER this?

Stupid drunk morons. This isn't Ozzy or Madonna or Radiohead, this is Paul.