Sunday, August 28, 2016

Flying Solo

**This is going to be a long one, kids.  Pull up a comfy chair, snuggle in, and get ready for an epic adventure.  Get yourself a drink.  Personally, I'm having a beer.***

Hey, Friends.

I'm a slacker.  I've got so many stories that I need to tell you here, but I haven't had time to get around to it.  I'll do my best to catch up.  Promise.  For now, let's start with the most recent events, shall we?

If you've been hanging around here with me for a while, you might remember that last summer I took my niece, Lili, to see Heffron Drive at Webster Hall.  We got to meet them, and she got all swoony and refused to wash the shirt that she wore because it would clean off the "Kendall Loving".  (Don't remember?  Of course not -- you've got far more important stuff to keep in your brain.  You can click right here for the recap, if you are so inclined.)

Last night I went to see Heffron Drive, again at Webster Hall.  Sadly, I was flying solo this trip since Lili was back in Texas already.  For some unimaginable reason, my brother was just not cool with her skipping the first week of school to stay in New York and have happy-fun-concert-time with Aunt Tammy.....well, not anymore concert fun time.  I did take her to see The Lumineers at Speed of Sound Fest and we saw Twenty One Pilots at MSG. She made out alright, but was incredibly bummed out that she was going to miss getting to see Kendall and Dustin again.

So, having learned absolutely nothing from our adventure last year, I once again decided to work half the day before catching the fabulous Hudson Line down to the city.  I had to run an errand, return some taxidermy that I had borrowed for book group decor (again -- story for another time, people) to a coworker down in the main branch of the library.  You know, the usual.  I was feeling pretty good with the state of the universe, as at said book group the night before I had served fortune cookies along with the taxidermy (WTF?!  I know, but it did make sense, promise.) and had gotten 2 fortunes in 1 cookie:

Bring it, fortune cookies!  Hope you're not lying.

It was all going swimmingly, until I made the fatal mistake of going to Dunkin Donuts to get coffee and a sandwich to eat on the train ride as my lunch/dinner. Friends, if you know me at all then you know something is about to go horribly wrong if I am even remotely hinting that coffee was a mistake.  I love my coffee.  I write love letters to my coffee pot when it needs a little ego boost.

Everything was fine for about....oh, half an hour or so.  I ate my sandwich, and was happily reading my book.  I went to take another sip of my coffee -- a nice, big, large iced coffee -- when I accidentally unleashed the Great Coffee-pocalypse on the feet of my unsuspecting fellow travelers.

Friends, I have never seen coffee spill so thoroughly and with such speed as it did on that train car.  I'm thankful that it wasn't completely full, and that I had the reflexes to get it before the entire thing dumped out.  I desperately tried to pick up all the loose ice cubes and mop up as much of the mess as I could with my one napkin and the two tissues I had in my purse, all while apologizing to the people around me like crazy.  I was mortified.  You know those moments when you would be happy to find a bottomless pit and just chuck yourself down it?  That's where I was living.  The woman across from me tells me it was just an accident, and I'm lucky because it's mostly all guys on the train headed to Yankee Stadium so they don't have bags on the floor. Then she gives me a Wet Wipe and tells me to use it on my hands after I'm done trying to mop up.  She told me I was braver than her because there was no way in hell she would have even considered touching the train floor.

Then the conductor comes back through and is all, "Whoa!  What happened here?" and I told him my coffee spilled and apologized some more.  I thought maybe he would get a mop, or hand me a roll of paper towels to try to clean up my mess.  Nope.  Apparently we were all just going to enjoy my coffee puddles, rolling around the train, for the rest of the trip.

Coffee-pocalypse after cleaning.  Go Big or Go Home.

I had to ride the train for the next hour like that, folks, wincing at every stop as I watched people try to negotiate the aisle without slipping or stepping in the puddles.  The woman across from me very helpfully told me that the Coffee-pocalypse had made it 6 rows in front of me.  OMG.  I was just waiting for someone to get up and start bitching me out about having ruined their shoes, or their bag. Thankfully that never happened.

Should I have put my book down and paid more attention to what I was doing?  Obviously, yes.  But I can't help but feel that Dunkin is slightly responsible for this as well because my lid clearly wasn't fully locked on.  That might just be wishful thinking.  And I might have felt just the slightest bit of joy when, about 30 minutes after Coffee-pocalypse had been loosed, someone farther back than me dropped a bottle of chocolate milk that proceeded to roll down the entire length of the car.  Not just my mess now, and I had nothing to do with the milk.

Please let me escape my coffee nightmare

Finally, blessedly, we arrived in Grand Central and I could escape the scene of the crime.  I headed for the ladies' room to try and de-coffee myself and my shoes.  After ensuring that I was as coffee-free as I could possibly get, I headed outside.  I could have walked, but it was way too hot and I would have been a sweaty, coffee-scented mess by the time I arrived.  The line for a cab was loooooooooong.  So I wandered off down the street to try my luck elsewhere.

I got really lucky and an Uber driver took pity on me.  He explained what the normal fare would be, but that it might be more with a surge since it was after 5 pm now, and "it's so hot out today that everyone is taking cabs.  You couldn't have gotten a cab there for hours."  Thanks, Buddy.  I'll take my chances with the surge.

So we're driving along and chatting.  He asked where I was from, what I was going to do.  I told him I was from Poughkeepsie and headed to a concert.  He tells me that he gets a lot of people from Poughkeepsie on the weekends, and I was filling him in on how it's so convenient since it's right on the Hudson Line. Then he busts out with, "Did you know that Poughkeepsie is the murder capital of the country?"  Seriously?  If it's true I'm not proud of it, but what do you say to that?  And, in a strange turn of events, he was not the first person to tell me that this week.  It made me ponder a few things:

  1. How are we possibly the murder capital of the country?  That seems pretty far-fetched.  Is this determined by number of murders per capita or something?  I mean, I'm not going to lie and say no one ever gets murdered.  They do, and it's sad.  I just didn't think that we were murdery stabby blood-thirsty enough to be number one.
  2.  Where are people getting this statistic from that everyone seems to have heard it?  
  3. I feel moderately better now that the only part of the trip I was really worried about was the walk to my car in the parking lot back at the train station, and that was mainly because I would be alone and it would be the middle of the night.  Apparently not an unfounded fear.

So we finally get to the corner near Webster Hall and he drops me off.  There was a surge, of course.  $50.  It cost me more to get from Grand Central to Webster Hall than it did for a round-trip train ticket...and I somehow doubt that my Uber driver would have been as nonchalant about a spilled coffee as the conductor on the train.

Friends, I was so happy when I finally got to the end of the line outside Webster Hall!  It had been a long damn day already by that point, and I'm sure I looked like it.  So I took a picture of the Webster Hall sign and posted it to Snapchat as Heffron Drive has a cool filter for each show.  Immediately I get a message back from Lili about how bummed she is and how she wished she was with me.  I struck up a conversation with the woman and her daughter who were ahead of me in line, since we were going to be spending some quality time with each other.  They were from Toms River and were very cool.  They hadn't gotten there much before I had, but apparently people further up the line had been there since 2 pm.  Possibly earlier.  I don't know how early the front of the line had arrived.  Apparently a lot of people in line already knew each other, and were walking back and forth to chat with different groups of friends. One girl had already been to like 8 shows this year or something.  They would all squee with excitement when someone else arrived and be all excited that they made it.  I kind of got the feeling there was like some elite group of Super Fans or something, and I was clearly not a member of that club and had no idea who any of these other people were.  It's fine. I'll just hang with the ladies from Toms River.  We get each other.

We finally get inside, and it isn't set up anything like last year.  Last year you immediately were in the queue for the Meet and Greet, and that clearly wasn't happening.  The ladies from Toms River are looking at me, and I'm like, "Yeah, I've got nothing.  This isn't the way it went last time."  But I did notice there was a bar, and that was awesome because I was going to need a drink.  Causing the Great Coffee-pocalypse is not something that is easy to get over, Friends.

Heffron Drive comes out, and they sing a cover of Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls. I have never seen more phones whipped out with such speed in my life.  I looked around for minute because I kind of felt like I was the only person not documenting the hell out of it.  Not that I have ever been a performer on stage or have even the vaguest frame of reference, but that has got to be a weird moment.  Like before you even get a word out of your mouth there is a battalion of phones recording your every move.

So then they explain that the pictures/Meet & Greet session will take place off to the side, and to line up.  The doors for General Admission will open at 7 pm whether we are done or not.  As we wait and time goes by the Mom from my Toms River ladies starts to worry:  what if we aren't done by 7? Does that mean the GA people will get our good places close to the stage?  Her daughter isn't that tall, she won't be able to see.  Maybe she should go hold our places (which her daughter was not having because she was getting super nervous and didn't want to be alone.)  Those other girls put their purses on the ground to hold their spots.  Should she do that -- but her purse cost a lot of money.  I tried to reassure her that the line was moving quickly, and we would be fine.  I told her my bag cost $15 at a street fair, but I wasn't about to leave it on the ground unattended either.  She said she wasn't above elbowing people out of the way to get their spot back, and I'm not entirely sure she was joking.  I told her that I was right here, if it got close to time she could go hold the spots and I would stay with her daughter -- that someone would be there to take the pictures with your own phone anyway, just keep it cool and it will all be fine.

And then the first few people were coming out the other end.  One girl was crying in joy, a couple were shaking.  Maybe I was too far back in line to notice last year, or maybe I was too busy talking to Lili, but I don't recall anyone totally losing their minds.  

By the time we got to the door and my new friends from Toms River were next, the daughter was starting to get super nervous.  It got worse when she could actually see Kendall and Dustin.  Her Mom hadn't been planning on going in with her, but that was apparently out the window at this point -- they were both going.  I told her that it would be fine, she's got this.  She can handle it.  Friends, that is truly rich coming from me.  Last year I was a total tongue-tied spaz, overly paranoid about my niece getting lost and/or broken when I took my eyes off of her for .5 seconds.  So yeah.  I knew exactly how she felt, and I also knew it would be okay and the guys are both really sweet to their fans.  Plus, I was going right after them and was really trying to get my shit together so that I could maybe seem like a coherent human being this time.  If I focus on them, then I won't have time to worry about myself.

You see, Friends, I had a mission.  I wanted to make Lili feel like she was included, even though she couldn't be there.  To that end I had made a little sign that said "Hi Lili!" that I was hoping Kendall and Dustin would be cool enough to hold when we had our picture taken.  That was going to require me to keep my shit together and be able to speak -- preferably in full sentences -- so that I could explain. As adorable as I find my niece to be, they meet a shit-ton of people at concerts, and the likelihood of them remembering her (or me) was zero.  Talking was going to be necessary in my mission.

First up was Dustin, since he was right there.  I introduced myself and gave him a hug, and he told me his name was Dustin, but I could call him Lord D-Belt.  And I'm like, "Okay," because it was unexpected and amused me.  And then Kendall said to just ignore anything that Dustin said.  It doesn't sound like much, but I was amused and it helped me relax.  Maybe I looked like a nervous wreck and they were trying to help -- I really don't know.  Then I introduced myself to Kendall and got a hug, and explained about the sign I wanted them to hold.  Like the whole story about how she came with me to see them last year, and she couldn't this year and was super bummed but she lives in Texas and school had already started, and my brother would not let her ditch the entire first week to come with me.  I rambled, in essence.  Shocker, I know.  But they agreed to hold the sign, so mission: accomplished!

They're cute, I'm a mess.  But at least I wasn't covered in coffee.

And as we are getting the pictures taken, Kendall says something about it being too bad Lili couldn't come, but school should be her priority right now.  He's absolutely right, and I totally agree with him.  And that really is what I meant to do, but instead I found myself saying, "Well, right now her priority seems to be coming up with ways to violate the school's dress code."  OMG what the fuck is wrong with me?!  I go from barely being able to speak to them last year to being unable to just shut the hell up, and now I'm oversharing details that they do not need to know.  Maybe if they come back again the third time will be the charm.  No promises though.

And then something magical happened.  Kendall asked to see the sign..

They are made of awesome!

I was floored.  I hadn't even thought to ask them to do that.  I thanked them (at least I hope I did.  If not, thank you so much!!)  I know I told them that she was going to die when she saw it -- cause I apparently just say whatever comes to mind at this point, filter be damned.  And when I got back out with my ladies from Toms River I showed them, and then immediately sent Lili a picture of it on Snapchat.  Her brain pretty much exploded with joy, in both text and video.  I have now inadvertently scored all the "Cool Aunt" points in the universe, so everyone else is out of luck.  Sorry, peeps.

Mission accomplished, and with 5 whole minutes left until General Admission would enter?  I decided it was high time to get a beer.  Leading the Great Coffee-pocalypse on a train and then mentally face-palming yourself because you can't shut up will take a lot out of a gal.  I asked my ladies from Toms River to hold my spot.  We had bonded at this point, plus I know she's not above throwing an elbow if need be.  I got my drink, and shortly thereafter the concert started.

First up:  The Assembly Line

Second: This Is All Now

And then, Heffron Drive.

Lord D-Belt in action

Now, I like to take pictures.  That should not be a surprise to you, Friends. However, I really try not to take that many pictures at concerts.  I like to actually watch the concert and enjoy rather than screwing around with my phone.  Ideally, that is what I would have liked to do at this one.  However, a certain niece in Texas would be crushed if I did not do my level best to document the hell out of the concert for her.  I really had no choice.  As you can well guess, you are about to be inundated with pictures.  Feel free to skip them if this is not your cup of tea, Friends.  I'll never know.  

Two points to keep in mind:

1.  It is much harder to take pictures and/or video when you are attempting to use only one hand.  I had a beer in my other hand for a large part of the concert, and was also trying to keep my bag on my shoulder.  

2.  I'm not saying Dustin put a voo-doo hex on me when I agreed that he was Lord D-Belt, but it was a heck of a lot easier to get pictures of him that were in focus than it was Kendall.  Maybe it was the lights.  Maybe it was the fact that he was almost directly in front of me.  I just know what happened. And I'm okay with it, whatever the cause.

Now, onto the pictures!

 I love this one

 There was a mad crush when people tried to touch Kendall

This is my favorite.

About that last one.  You might be thinking, "That's not even in focus, and you can barely see either of them."  True, but it's all about this heart.  This girl pushed in front of us at one point, and not one person even complained.  She was so incredibly excited to see the concert. She kept making that heart and screaming that she loved Kendall over and over again.  She just radiated such pure joy at simply being there.  So the picture is kind of about her, and kind of about Heffron Drive, and also about how  nice, friendly, and generally lovely everyone in the crowd was to each other the entire time.  I can't even tell you the last time I went to any concert where there wasn't pushing, or elbows, or general cattiness taking over.  It was like everyone had silently agreed to just have a good time and let it all go.  That's what the picture is about.

And I had to try to shoot some video, because -- Lili.  It all comes back to Lili.

Passing Time. This is one of my favorites -- either version. Is it wrong that I was hoping that Logan would magically appear on stage and join in?  Yes, yes it is.  First because he sang on the acoustic version, which this clearly is not.  Second, he wasn't here last year when they did play the acoustic version.  Third, and not the least important, he has his own life and shit to do.  I dare to dream.  He went to Italy with Heffron Drive.  Maybe one time he will grace us with his presence in NYC.

And this last bit is really super short, as it was originally posted to Snapchat.

The concert was excellent as always.  I hope I never miss an opportunity to see them, even if Lili can't go with me.  So thank you again, Kendall and Dustin, for a great show and for just being you.  I can't even begin to explain how happy you made Lili by taking that picture and writing that note, and it means so much to me that you would do that for her.  You rock!

And to round out my little adventure, for those of you still bothering to read at this point....

I got a cab back to Grand Central with no problem.  Do you know how much it cost?  $15, including the tip.  You and your price surge can kiss my ass next time, Uber.

Also, I'm pleased to report that I managed not to spill anything all over the train on the way back. Granted, I only had a bottle of water with me, but still.

I got back to Poughkeepsie around 12:30 in the morning, and even had company on the walk through parking garage because people were coming home from the Yankee game.  That was nice.  I was feeling pretty darn good about the state of the world, and then I pulled out of the parking garage.  I don't know what went down, but there was a cop car, an ambulance, and a crowd of people.  I'm hoping this does not turn out to be proof that maybe Poughkeepsie is a little more murdery than I thought.  We so do not need to live up to that particular title.

All things considered, I think my fortune cookie was spot on.

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