Rock and Roll, Baby!

Last night something was confirmed about me that may surprise many of you. I am not a rocker. I know you are shocked and surprised. I’m not even a poser. (I had to look that term up, fyi) It was evident by my lack of knowledge about the music or words to the signature songs of the band. I spent more time entertained by the people in attendance than the actual concert. My husband and I were given tickets by sweet friends to a concert by The Black Jacket Symphony: A Night at the Opera and The Best of Queen. My big guy was very excited about hearing favorite songs of his younger years. I confess that I wondered what kind of opera the symphony would play. I honestly expected an orchestra. I was wrong! I am not completely in the dark, I do know who Queen is, but I didn’t realize it would be a real deal rock and roll night! You may not believe this, but I’ve never been to a rock concert. It’s true! I know I’ve surprised you again.

Parking was the first step to getting to our night of rocking and rolling….obviously not an easy task in downtown Mobile when a rock concert is about to happen! We finally parked in a church parking lot with a sign that said “Private Parking for…(and I’ll leave the church name out here just in case someone wants to report two rebellious fifty somethings!): Violators will be ticketed or towed at owners expense. I was a little anxious as we got out of the car and proudly walked toward the theatre, impressed by our night of living on the wild side. I secretly asked God to forgive us and please allow the car to still be there when the night was over!

As we entered the door of the Saenger I was asked to open my purse for security. I looked at my big guy and asked, “Are these people famous?” The security guy asked him if he had any weapons. He confessed to a pocket knife and suddenly the guys hands went up and said “You can’t enter with a weapon, sir.” I looked around at the other security people standing ready to pounce, beginning to wonder if the real Queen was in the house. My sweet husband informed me later that the lead singer died in 1985. He handed over his knife, it was obvious to me that it was worth the sacrifice to hear the band! We then walked to another security checkpoint and were scanned with a wand for any other concealed weapons. This didn’t make me feel comfortable about the obvious possibilities of events that could happen if there was this much concern for what people would carry into the concert hall! We finally got to our seats and waited. We were in the balcony, third row, dead center. Perfect view of the stage. I noted the massive speakers hanging from the ceiling, both sides angled right at us. This wasn’t going to be good. There was an atmosphere of excitement all around me. As I watched people, which I love to do, I realized the average age in the room was somewhere in the mid fifties. But the energy was more like a crowd of twenty somethings! I noted the lights, the instruments and party like atmosphere. Suddenly the lights went down and the band ran out. The crowd went crazy. The lead singer belted out lyrics and people were screaming. I looked hard at the singer trying to recognize him. I did not. But then a familiar tune came, Bohemian Rhapsody. I looked at my big guy and said “I know this!”, but my words were lost somewhere in the midst of the screaming crowd and the blasting music. He leaned down and I got as close to his ear as possible and I repeated my words. He smiled and nodded. I still don’t think heard me….but I saw the smile on his face as he took in the loud music and I knew he was having a good time. I found myself watching people more than the concert as they got lost in the music, reliving the moments of the 70’s and 80’s when they first heard the songs. People were standing and dancing, hands in the air and singing at the top of their lungs. These people knew every word. Then I heard a familiar beat….the crowd began to stomp, stomp, clap, stomp, stomp, clap. I looked at my man with shock, it was my high school senior class song! I found myself following along and singing “We will, we will, rock you”. I was no longer a fish out of water. A square peg in a round hole. I was a rocker! They sang Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Another One Bites the Dust. I suddenly felt cool because I knew these songs. I didn’t know all the words, but I knew the songs. At the end of the night, my ears were numb and I honestly was glad to be headed home. I observed something as I left. It was 10:15pm and the crowd that had just been jamming out for two hours were leaving in an orderly manner, laughing and chatting as we exited the nearly 100 year old Saenger Theatre. Forty years ago, these same people would have been jumping up and down demanding an encore still full of youthful energy, demanding to be blown away by the rock band, Queen. We made it back to the church parking lot (along with many other concert attendees) and our car was still there and no ticket on the windshield. Prayer works! We drove home and I listened to my sweet man talk about the band and how good they were and how fun it was to hear some of his favorite songs. I listened and thought how thankful I was for the gift of tickets for us to enjoy a non -typical night out for this “square” chick, and to sit next to my man who has had such a difficult year. All I can say is…..rock on!

Life on The Hill – a series of short stories to be posted periodically – purely fiction ;)

“ARTY”
I sat listening to the ladies of The Hill yesterday as they sat around in comfortable chairs in the common area discussing the events of a funeral of a relative of one of the younger agents, a descendent of one of the well known families on The Hill. The laughed and discussed the unusual eulogies and awkwardness of ex-in-laws in attendance. I honestly would love to attend one of these normally somber events, for it seems that characters abound and strange situations always occur. Three eulogies were given, each one more peculiar than the previous according to young descendant of a very old family who had resided on The Hill for many generations. During the eulogy given by the only daughter of the deceased, a voice interrupted saying “We need a doctor over here!” Considering the attendees, six doctors of various ages responded simultaneously! The daughter hesitated for a moment, and in those uncomfortable moments, a voice of an elderly women in a beautiful silk suit near the front, obviously hard of hearing because of the loudness with which she asked those sitting next to her, “Who’s gone down? “ The eulogy continued as the doctors worked at stabilizing the older gentleman and 911 was called. Out of respect, the Ambulance refrained from flashing lights or sounding sirens as they left the graveside service. It was sketchy as to whether the old gentlemen who had died would be buried or not because of the endless rain that had been occurring for that last few weeks. The graveyard was a soggy mess and the ground was quite saturated. The refined southern women were having to remove their designer shoes and stomp, just like the rest of us, through the mud puddles to honor the dead!

But I digress, the ladies continued to laugh and talk about strangely named individuals and how they were distantly related to the young woman. Then Kay-baby (as she is affectionately called at 75 years of age), began to tell about another agent’s uncle who had died some ten or so years earlier. Art Townshire was a self-made millionaire in the lumber business. He had acquired his wealth through some questionable deals that involved southern handshake trading and the lives of several million trees. He lived in a sprawling mansion that hugged the bend of Dog River and had raised eight sons. They all were southern gentlemen who loved duck hunting, fishing, golfing and were prone to acting socially unacceptable when they had indulged themselves in the liquid spirits. Art died one Saturday afternoon unexpectedly. The sons quickly gathered and like any true southern gentlemen raised their glasses of brandy to their father. They promptly sat him in a chair in the main living room and proceeded to take pictures with him. As if that wasn’t eccentric enough, they decided to take him on one last ride. Their mother sat quietly on the front porch in a rocking chair, slowing waving a fan to calm her nerves. She knew these boys were truly grieving for their father and these antics were their attempt to honor the man who had raised them. They came out the screened door carrying Arty sitting stiffly in a wing back chair in a hunting jacket, a cigar in his mouth and a glass of brandy in his hand. I stopped the story for a moment and asked “How did they get the glass to stay in his hand?” “Duct tape, dear, duct tape!” was the response. I was mortified! I had lived in Marston a good portion of my life, but outside the social status of being a descendant of “The Hill”. My family was not wealthy and our idea of a good time was boiling the crabs we had caught off the pier, then sitting around the table laughing and cracking crab legs, while the children ran in and out of the screened door while playing in the sprinkler outside! I tried to imagine a wealthy social figure like Art Townshire, dead as a doornail, riding around in the back of a pick-up truck. I couldn’t understand the reasoning at all! Skeeter interrupted my thoughts, “You should have seen the gas station attendant’s face when they stopped for gas!” Laughter exploded. This was just strange to me! I asked “Did they ride him around The Hill?” “Oh no, honey, up and down the riv-a” she replied! These high society people from The Hill are quite strange, I thought to myself, but I love them! Then I laughed right along with them!