Monday, September 19, 2011

The Boy in the Band Incident: Part One - No Pants

This actually turned out to be four stories in one.
Two of them involve no pants.

In high school, I had a thing for experimental freak grunge prog rock shows.

I also had a thing for crazy musicians.

With those two sentences, you already know this is going to end badly.

(I also had a thing for boys with, in retrospect, really gross hair. I have since implemented one of my two hard-and-fast dating rules: NO BOYS WITH LONG HAIR. Always trouble.)

The last year and a half of high school I spent a considerable amount of weekends and choice weeknights at this run down warehouse-turned-venue on the outskirts of downtown. I dutifully paid my "suggested donation" and stood to the side with my arms crossed and my head nodding appreciatively to everything from technical metal to freak folk wailing and chants. This seemed like the ideal hang out for a "cool" teenager, as it was mostly pre-hipster college folks. It seemed a different country from my clean-cut, straight-As, high school existence.

I went to these shows with three main friends: one who drove, one who knew how to attract attention, and one who actually knew some of the bands and how to intrinsically "be" cool. And then there was me - both the motivator and the mom. The moderator and mitigator. Such a problem.

So hip, you guys. I am gonna score me some rockstars.
One night toward the end of junior year we decided to stay out SO LATE (until ONE am, crazy, I know) probably because Lady Mom and Dr. Dad were out of town. I felt hella cool in the polkadot dress I'd found at goodwill that my cool friend had chopped the sleeves of off. I think I wore Keds with it that evening. Top of hipster style, I assure you.

The headlining band that evening was a punk rock group from the southwest who went on to... not do much else, from the looks of their facebook page and myspace. They had a temporary stand-in lead singer who was supposed to be pretty good. The crowd was solid and energetic; the beer flowed (and I snuck it away from my friends and placed it on tables, etc. since we were underage! Eesh, so dangerous!) and the opening bands rocked. The combination of these three elements inspired one cool cat to drunk climb on the stage overhang and take his shirt off and spin it around. This sight caused the drunk college hipsta-bros next to us to remark:

"ahhh man what a wimp / he's not even stripping / that's not the way to do it / get naked or get off / rabble rabble rabble."

I laughed and that caught their attention enough to continue ragging on the poor stumbling (and not-well guarded against falling on top of us and snapping my slender high school neck) drunk who was trying to remove his pants to flail them around. Their heckling got louder, until my friend who knew how to attract attention turned and pierced them with an equally come-hither and die-bitch stare and said:

"Why don't you shut up and go show him how it's done?"

I echoed her sentiments, feeling all I-am-woman-hear-me-roar and giddy off of two cigarettes and being out past 11pm until... they did it. I cheered along, hoping for some hot abdominal muscles or, you know, a decently humorous story to awe all my wide-eyed AP-course-taking friends. Be careful what you wish for.

Something about punk rawk, man, just makes boys want to take their clothes off.

So these two even more drunk boys clamber above the stage and goad the lone drunkerd off to the side. They proceeded to rip off their shirts and jeans, windmilling them overhead to the great shouts of laughter and encouragement until... wait, what are they doing? They've put down their shirts... They're taking off their boxers... are they really going to... is that a.... ? Oh. my. god.


I shrieked and buried my face in my hands. My friend tried to pry my fingers away from my eyes, whooping along with the crowd.

And that is how I saw my first naked man.


To our other side, once the overhead nakedness subsided, another equally enthralling chap engaged us in conversation. He was the roadie for Awesome Headlining Band and bff of the temporary lead singer. Didn't care. He was intoxicated (this a running theme with poserish boys at concerts), a little repulsive, and altogether uninteresting. I mostly ignored him. And then the Awesome Headlining Band came out and I saw the lead singer.

Ba-DING Ba-DING. Two big red cartoon hearts popped up in my eye sockets. My first case of full-bodied rockstar lust.

I was IN LOVE. This boy was beautiful. And he knew how to rock. And his best friend was standing right next to me. Suddenly, I became very interested in everything the best friend had to say.

"Oh my gosh that is so interesting / and you've been touring with them how long / tell me everything about them / oh yeahhh you did mention you were friends with D / ohhh best friends? / ohhh wow cool / so what's it like tell me EVERYTHING / uh huh uh huh / ohhhh the set's over boo"

Miss Emily Post rolled over in her grave from my charming etiquette and conversational prowess.

Right on cue, Lead Singer walked over to talk to his best friend about loading amps or something equally boring. And there I was with my winning smile (probably with scary serial-killer eyes, it took me a while to learn how to tone down my enthusiasm.) wearing my totally cool thrifted dress, and being INTERESTED IN THINGS.

He said something profound (probably: Oh, hey) and I swooned. In the .5 seconds I'd known him I'd fully succumbed to Total Groupie Syndrome* it was baaad. My friends crowded around to chat, keeping the conversation the appropriate level of we're-like-totally-in-college-whatever awesome. I'd completely forgotten his gross friend and zeroed in on every beautiful (and arrogantly pretentious) word falling from his mouth. This wasn't like all of the other bands I'd seen here at the Warehouse. These guys were going to BE SOMETHING and REALLY GONNA MAKE IT. Oh, be still, my heart.

I noticed a shuffling in the corner of my eye.

His drunk friend loudly told some stupid story from an earlier concert, gesticulating wildly with one hand and... undoing his belt with the other? He managed to unhook his belt, mid-story, and started unbuttoning his pants. We stood there in the middle of the Warehouse, actual groupies shuffling around carrying amps, tattooed girls trading alt-rock hookup stories behind us over the haze of American Spirit smoke, and the drunk friend was removing his pants. Nonchalantly. Still telling his story.

I was both horrified and incapable of looking away.

Suddenly, he stopped. He looked down at his pants now approaching his knees (undergarments still on THANK GOD) looked slowly at us girls with gaping mouth and wide eyes, and then to the Lead Singer. He the spoke again.

"Aw man, you gotta tell me when I'm taking my pants off in public. I can't get in trouble for this again!"

He shuffled away, hiking up his pants and muttering curses.

This had happened before? This was a thing? Accidentally forgetting you were removing your clothing... and in front of underage girls, no less? I've read about many types of systematic memory loss, but never in my psychology studies had I seen someone who JUST DIDNT REALIZE HE WAS GETTING NAKED.

And that is how I did NOT see another naked man.

* Total Groupie Syndrome (TGS): Behavior exhibited by typically desperate girls wanting to score with a band member. Nausea-inducing to anyone not afflicted. Symptoms begin with flushed faces, dizziness, uncontrollable batting eyelashes, and excessive giggling. Also earnestly CARING about the band's goals and artistic vision. When not treated with a healthy dose of reality or a well-meaning bitchslap, symptoms can progress to ostentatious flirting, lofty statements and delusions of grandeur and true-love-forever and irrepressible lust. Not to be confused with the even-more-severe "actual love," the onset of TGS is swift, sudden, and may require little or no interaction with the intended target.

(the bangability scale tends to go from lead singer, percussionist?, lead guitarist, drums, and then last and usually least, the bassist. Though now in our ironic, post-hip society, the bassists have suddenly started being in high demand. Thank you, I started that trend.)


So does R. Grace end up with her band boy (not likely)? Does the evening end in shambles or hilarity? Will she ever stay up past one again? And how does relationship advice from a chimney-smoke English teacher play into all of this? How does this forever shape our fearless heroine's dating adventures?

I guess you'll have to wait until the next post!


Post inspired by my jaunt to the Honda Civic Tour last night to see Matt & Kim, MCR, and Blink 182. My middle-school self is still jumping around excitedly. Goodnight loves.

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