Warning: This is long-winded and Bret Michaels is hardly even the most developed part. Sorry, Bret.
Where to start?
The evening started with my sister Jennifer and I both trying to get ready at our mom’s house. Not my natural tarting up environment. No inspirational “Living Room Dance Party” playlist, limited fashion choices and no sign of the earrings that I thought I packed. Plus my sister was somewhere else in the house giggling and squeaking “ohmagawd!!!” repeatedly. Just to clarify, she turned 33 today and has a three-year-old who was staying at Grammie’s that night while mommy and auntie went out to shake it.
Our ultimate destination was exactly where you might expect the Bret Michaels Band to magically appear if they were going to make a habit( and they actually have) of showing up in Vienna, West Virginia on Beers-giving Eve. Local, medium-sized bar/restaurant/dance floor/live band area/questionable cleaning standards with signs directing you to “Outdoor Bath’s (porta johns)” just in case the indoor bathes were not up to par. It was down on the river and surrounded by a huge asphalt and gravel fenced in lot for “concert parking.”
We arrived early and were directed to the far end of the lot. The repetitive squeaking was still going full blast as my sister took her car key off the ring and pocketed it. This is really important later. Women tend to downsize when going out for the night. If we can, we’ll ditch purses or at least pack only the essentials- money, i.d., credit card, keys- into a smaller bag. We understand that bars and dance floors will be hot, crowded and smelly so we will go coatless and suffer the weather to get from point A to point B. It was absolutely certain that this place would be hot, crowded and smelly so our coats stayed in the car.
We headed across the lot and for the line at the door, dodging hoochie mama hopefuls who were scenting the air around the band’s bus and trailers. At the door a large yellow tacked up sign assured us that there would be NO MOSHING and that all drama and coolers should stay outside. The crowd was an oddball mix of the rode-hard, leathery tanned toothlessness of a COPS episode; older, heavier women who looked like they might have just left their secretarial jobs; younger women who had modeled their wardrobe choices off of the Rock of Love contestants; those edging on a normal night out plus all the men that all these women dragged along. It seemed about right for the area. They probably had a fancy sit-down dinner at the OG (The Olive Garden); she totally dolled herself up in the best bedazzling that Wal-Mart had to offer and he at least put on the cleanest camo and baseball cap available. Ah, home.
My brother-in-law got us the best “Golden Circle” tickets. “Golden Corral” might have been a more accurate description but at least we were about five bodies back from the stage. Before Bret Michaels Band (BMB) was up, we had to endure two local cover bands. The first band, Hit Parade, was actually really good. They quickly busted out a Bon Jovi montage and, of course, some Journey. I mean, I really am just a small town girl living in a lonely world, but I will not take a midnight train to anywhere by myself. Seems too rapey and I should totally be asleep at that time. It also helped that half the band was pretty good-looking. The guitarist was the hot doctor of one of our friends and the lead singer had lovely Jesus locks. It also helped that the bassist looked like what would happen if you gave a skinny Harold Ramis/Bob Saget a guitar and told him to make all the faces that people make when playing Guitar Hero: comic relief
Unfortunately, the second band was painfully trying to be more than a cover band, mixing in their own original music. The lead singer kept asking the crowd to buy him a beer or a shot and finally announced that he would drink urine at this point. Still no one appeased him. Even the drunk woman beside me who kept grabbing Jennifer and I to get us to cheer for the songs mumbled, “They kinda suck, yea?” Yea.
Finally we were only a set change and several mike checks away from Bret!!! We’d been standing around the same people for the last two hours so the faces were pretty familiar and they were all decent humans here for the unified purpose of screaming at the top of their lungs and maybe flashing a tit or two. However the Golden Circle’s numbers and anxiety was growing and we could feel everyone subtly edging closer to the stage. I can live with subtle squishing but not sloppy drunk girl squishing. Out of nowhere an unfamiliar Sloppy Drunk girl and a friend began elbowing their way through the already compacted crowd on a mission to get to the front. Not only was she actively pushing people and making them fall into each other, she was too lubricated to keep her own balance and smelled like she had already hog wallowed in a vat of Natty Light. The crowd was not pleased and Too-Tall-For-the-Golden-Circle Height-Limit Guy (I’m 5’6″; Jennifer is shorter so tall people are a visual issue) was not having it. He pushed back and Sloppy Drunk girl fell into me, I fell into my sister who fell into her new BFF drunk cheering woman who was trying to show Jennifer Iphone pictures of her baby .
Now our mother has always assumed that I would be the one to get into a bar fight, but I had to put a lid on Jennifer’s loud comments about Sloppy Drunk girl’s rotten tooth (right there shinin’ at us) and equally rotten face. SD girl was now in a shoving match with TTFTGCHL guy, but she hadn’t lost her hearing.
(Read with drunk girl voice here) SD girl just didn’t understand why we were all being such bitches when there wasn’t even a band up right now sllluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrr, stumble.
Her big accomplishment for the evening would be to piss off an entire crowd who had been pretty happy and satisfied with each other’s quirks up to this point. Coincidentally, the multitude of yellow clad local yokel security guys who had hovered over us for the past two hours, had chosen this moment to completely disappear for a backstage circle jerk. I’m only guessing. TTFTGCHL guy was not giving up on trying to maneuver SD girl out of our space but was mostly still pushing her on top of me. His girlfriend was also getting in on the finger-pointing and head bobbing, drinks were spilling, madness, chaos… Pretty much all that I had anticipated for the evening. So I did what I do best, passive aggressively opened my big fucking mouth and screamed,
“SECURITY!!! SECURITY, GET YER FUCKIN’ ASSES OUT HERE!”
Suddenly TTFTGCHL guy was replaced by Big -Burly-Not-Sure-Who to Blame Security Guy. Above us other security men materialized with flashlights and grim looks; suddenly they had a job to do. Again, the crowd presented a united front of hatred for SD girl and unanimously pointed fingers at her. We rejoiced in her shaming and refilled the space she had tried to occupy.
Happiness, harmony and subtle squishing resumed.
Jennifer was getting more amped up and the high-pitched squeaking was back accompanied by bouncing. Band members and roadies kept appearing, teasing the crowd. Then Bret came out and he wanted me to talk dirty to him. Okay.
Jennifer and I both assumed that up close and personal, he would be a caked makeup mess. But, no, just a little eyeliner and spray tan. The most impressive thing about Bret Michaels was his energy. He was a nimble little minx, a tiny hyperactive elf with mascara. He was tiny; his thigh looked like it was as big around as my arm. He never stopped moving, constantly bouncing up and down, doing tiny shuffling wiggling
cat-like two steps. He actually did the “rowr”, cat paw hand move with What the Cat Dragged In. The end of every song and many of his statements to the crowd were punctuated with a leaping kung-fu kick. Kind of like if Elvis could have gotten some air.
The set was awesome; I happily lost it with everyone else. All Poison songs with a few covers. I’ll gladly listen to Bret Michaels sing Sweet Home Alabama as a plug for his new album. But eventually, it all became the sound of screaming. The fat girl behind me who had been resting her tits on the back of my neck all night in an effort to record every on stage moment with her phone, never stopped screaming, “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” into my left ear. My right ear wasn’t doing so hot either. I might be old. It happens.
The Bret Michaels Band played for a little over an hour and then the Golden Circle began to wobble away to purchase BMB merch, personal meet and greet bracelets and to bid on auction items. Bret Michaels does charity. His guitar and all t-shirts, cowboy hats and bandannas worn on stage by him that night (3 sets, he digs ensemble changes) were up for sale. I’d tell you what charities, but I could no longer hear words…and my legs didn’t really work anymore. We’d been standing in the same cramped space for 4 hours so much like a crated veal calf, I had become all tender and mushy and lost the ability to navigate in a straight line.
After buying t-shirts, Jennifer and I started the now freezing trek back to the far end of the parking lot to the car, excitedly screaming at each other over the extreme ringing in our ears.
Jennifer: ” Ohmagawd!!!”
Jennifer: ” What?!!! Ohmagawd!!! That was awesome.”
Me: “What?! That was awesome! What?!!!!”
It was time for a warm car, less loudness and food. Neither one of had time to eat dinner before getting to the show. It was officially a November night after 11:00 p.m., way too cold and way too past my bedtime. Jennifer put her key in the door lock and turned to me,
Jennifer: ” Ummmm, don’t hate me but you know how I took my key off the ring?”
To be continued…This is just too fucking long right now.