There was this girl in High School I really liked. And oddly enough she seemed to like me too. All the signs were there. She leaned in close when I talked to her. She laughed at everything I said regardless of its genuine humor. Thing was though she was really hot. REALLY hot. Like waaaaaaaaaay out of my league hot. So I was really confused as to her true intentions. It wouldnt have been the first time a pretty girl had pretended to like me as part of a joke so I was wary. But after a week or so she wore me down and I asked her out. She said yes and a date was set. And then I screwed everything up.
On the night we went out I was so nervous about impressing her that I did everything wrong. I wore clothes I wasn't comfortable in, I took her to places I didn't really like, I acted like someone I wasn't and generally just behaved like an ass. I didn't do it on purpose and kept trying to get the ship back on track. Every time I said something stupid I knew as soon as it fell out of my mouth that it was going to land on her foot like a warm turd but I was powerless to stop myself. I could see by the scared look in her eyes that things were going as poorly as I thought they were but the harder I tried to be who I thought she wanted me to be the creepier I got. I relate this sad tale only as a lengthy preface and an excuse for my behavior last night at the Ra Ra Riot show.
I havent been to a concert in a long time and I am so enamored of Ra Ra Riot that all night I had to make a conscious effort just to keep my breathing regular. I didnt help that when Cleo, Mrs Chops and I walked up to Walters on Washington to get in line we were so obviously the oldest people there that I'm pretty sure a lot of the kids were just expecting us to ask one of them for directions to the nearest Luby's. We got in line and the two gentlemen in front of us both turned around and stared for a minute. Normally staring so blatantly is socially unacceptable but we were such sore thumbs that we accepted it and just smiled and hoped that we would pass whatever inspection they saw fit to put us though. The decided against a direct interrogation and left us alone. We waited our turn and got inside. We started working our way to the front of the smallish room that is Walters in order to get the best view of the stage in consideration of Cleo's substantial height challenges. We found a good spot and Cleo and Mrs Chops left me guarding our space and went to hit the merch' table to score some shirts. As I was waiting for them to return I started looking around and noticed the young lady manning the T-shirt booth was rather comely. She had long brown hair, a slight build and delicate features. And then it hit me. Sweet heaven above it was Alexandra Lawn! The goddess of the cello was hawking wares like a mere mortal!
My breath started to come in shallow gasps and I could feel myself getting flush. I realized that if I acted quickly I may get a chance to actually meet her. I gave the ladies a few minutes to come back and save our spot but when they didn't return soon I started to panic. The show was scheduled to start almost immediately and I didn't know if Ra Ra Riot was opening or not. I was afraid that the show would start and Aly would leave the table. But I didn't want to abandon my place as the crowd had grown measurably since we had come in and I was afraid of losing my primo spot in front of the stage. I weighed the two and chose a few minutes with Aly over a good spot in the crowd and left to be by her side. And then there I was. Within feet of her. She was smaller than I had pictured her but just as lovely. Also there was some guy helping her at the table, but my focus was on Aly. But she wasnt looking up anymore. She was involved in something on her laptop. And the selling duties had fallen completely to her assistant. I made my shirt pick and we traded money for cloth. I had completed my transaction and it was time for to go. But I couldn't leave. I stood there clutching my newly purchased teal shirt (why the HELL had I chosen teal!) like a maiden watching her lovers ship sail from shore. Roady boy was trying to smile politely as the line built up behind me but he was obviously getting irritated. But Aly had yet to even look up, I couldnt just walk away, I had to do something.
I leaned over the table and said her name. "Alexandra?" She looked up in surprise and looked around to see who had called her name and saw only a bald middle aged man with disproportionately large chops beaming back at her. I asked her if she would mind signing my t-shirt, the one I was clinging to like a blanky. She politley agreed and then did so. Then she asked if I would like the rest of the band to sign it as well. The rest of the band! Holy hell, was that an option? Apparently it was. And then I saw to whom she passed my shirt and sharpie to. Just to my left was Rebecca Zeller, the violinist. And just behind her was Wes, Mathieu and Milo! Just hangin out like ordinary people and not the musical geniuses I knew them to be! Rebecca signed my shirt with me breathing over her like a bad Napoleon Dynamite impersonator and then passed it on to Milo. As I stood there waiting, Rebecca tried valiantly not to notice that I was staring at her with an idiotic smile on my face. I realized I needed to make conversation because thats what cool people do. Rebecca looked a little tired and because thats the first thing that popped into my head and because cool people always say the first thing that pops in their head I said "Have you had a long day?" She smiled politely and replied simply "No." Not knowing how to leave well enough alone I followed with "Cause you look worn out"
Her expression immedialtly changed from patient resolve to scorching disdain. "Thanks" was her reply. OH NO! Did I really just tell a beatiful talented young woman that she looked "Worn Out!?" What the hell did I say that for! Thats not what I meant! I could feel the situation slipping away from me and I felt far away from my body. "No, thats not what I meant! I was just trying to say that you look like you've had a hard day, I'm not trying to be an asshole." (because saying what you are NOT is a great way to make someone believe you) "No, no... it's... it's cool. Don't worry." She assured me. But the damage was done. It was starting again. I tried to think of something else really cool to say but she put me out of my misery by collecting my newly signed shirt from the remaining band members and handing it back to me with a smile that you would give a dog turd as you scraped it off your foot. I think I said something else about how great I thought she was but she just nodded and smiled as she walked away. I cant imagine what I might have said if she hadn't left.
At this point I was starting to really freak out. I had really offended sweet Rebecca. Cleo and Mrs Chops finally showed up and I told them what had happened. I was hoping they would tell me the situation wasn't as bad as I was imagining but as I related the story thier eyes got wider and thier lower jaws got farther and farther from their uppers. When I finshed recounting my sad tale Cleo just stared at me and said "You basically just told her that she looked like fat #$@." I was devastated. I was crushed. My one shot to impress the band and become best friends for life and I had blown it. Completely and thoroughly. Cleo and Mrs Chops bought their shirts from Aly and I tried to put on a happy face but inside I was dying.
But here is where the story gets a happy ending. Mrs Chops asked me to ask the band to sign her shirt as well. As Wes, Milo and Mathieu signed it I told them how much I enjoyed their music. I think because I was already so disappointed with myself and believed that I had so completely made a fool of myself I was actually relaxed a little. I told Mathieu that this was the first show I had been to in almost 15 yrs. Wes asked what the last band a saw live was and I told him I had seen Public Image Limited back in High School. All three of them brightened up and asked about the show. I honestly don't remember exactly what I told them. But they nodded cheerfully and I felt much better. I was talking to cool people and not acting like a moron! A few minutes later as Cleo, Mrs Chops and I were regrouping and getting ready to fight our way back to the stage Mathieu made his way up to us and held out his hand in greeting. "I'm Matt" he said. "I know" I replied, "we are so excited to be here and meet you." Then he talked to us. Just chatted. Just stood there and talked to us like we were real people. I told him about how Cleo had introduced me to them and about our lowly little blog. He seemed genuinely interested and he asked us more about ourselves. We asked him about what it was like to be on tour, if he missed his family, and how he liked this go around compared to last time. He said he loved being on tour and playing music. He said he did miss his family and friends back in Syracuse but that he liked getting to see his friends around the country and that this tour was much better than last time. I dont have a great recollection of the entire conversation but thats the gist of it. Unfortunately for me, acting like a total buffoon tends to sear events into my mind but the details of a casual conversation with a fantastic bassist slip away from me.
Eventually Mathieu had to go, he had to get ready for their set. We found a spot near the side of the stage where Rebecca was playing and I did my best to make up for my previous behavior by constantly shouting "WE LOVE YOU REBECCA!" and the old standby, "YOU ROCK REBECCA!" I'm pretty sure it worked. The show itself was absolutely fantastic. There were, to my ears, flawless. Milo and Gabe wailed and rocked. Wes' voice was a perfect mix of forceful and soothing. Of course Rebecca and Alexandra were outstanding but I cant think of word to describe what they did with their instruments. They are what really set Ra Ra Riot apart. And I thank them for it. My only criticism would be that they didn't play long enough. I have a much deeper respect for what they do as musicians and continue to be in awe of what they were able to do with their considerable musical ability to make me feel and smile.
In the end we had an amazing time. I am in debt to Mathieu for making an old man feel cool again. I do have a bone to pick with Gabe, their drummer. He was either staring at Mrs Chops the entire show or there was a fascinating sticker just above her head on the wall behind us. Either way she was ecstatic. Afterward she accosted him to sign her shirt and forced him to have her picture taken with him. Some people just lose their cool when they get around someone famous.
Other Fish in the Sea...
6 years ago