It has been said that the only people who like Jimmy Buffett are frat boys and drunk chicks from the South.
Hmmmm...interesting. How do I respond? Let’s seeee...okay, how about: Kiss my perfectly sober Southern female tookus. (I’m well bred, but I don’t shy away from a harsh response if the situation calls for it. I am a lawyer after all.)
With the possible exception of the late great Bob Marley, Jimmy Buffett is my favorite singer of all time. I’ve listened to his music for as far back as I can remember. I know how it goes: People either love Buffett or hate him and there is little middle ground. Fine. I don’t judge you for your closet ‘N Sync addiction or your Milli Vanilli poster collection, so I’ll go about my way and you go about yours, thankyouverymuch.
As a matter of fact, I am such a huge Parrothead that, when Jimmy fell off the stage at his concert in New Zealand, I had about 12 people call me to see how I was doing. Sniffle.
Buffett concerts are difficult to describe to the uninitiated, but it has been said in the past that they are a lot like Grateful Dead concerts. They are a pilgrimage to say the least. I can’t even tell you how many of his concerts I’ve attended—seems to me like I’m nearing the 20 mark if I haven’t already surpassed it. No, I can’t remember every single concert but there is one that I will never forget: My first.
It was the end of my freshman year at Peace College. Buffett was playing Walnut Creek and I wanted to go so bad I couldn’t stand it. My mother doesn’t particularly care for Buffett—she says he sounds too “twangy.” Jimmy wasn’t anywhere near the great Willie Nelson as far as my father was concerned, but he liked Buffett well enough and—since my parents didn’t particularly want me going without a chaperone—Dad took me.
We sat in the lawn and—if you’ve never been to a concert at Walnut Creek before—the lawn is about $90 less a world apart from the seated section. The lawn gets crazy. Crazy. Of course, seeing as it was our first time attending a concert at that venue, Dad and I had no idea what was in store for us.
We arrived at the parking lot and walked through the maze of cars adorned with shark fins, folks wearing coconut bras and hula skirts (girls and guys included in that category), beer and tequila of a magnitude so prolific as to overcome you by the fumes alone, folks grilling “Cheeseburgers in Paradise” and loads of miscellaneous revelry.
We waded through the masses once we got inside the arena and found what we thought would be a pretty decent plot of land from which to enjoy the concert. We stupidly spread out our little towels thinking that we were going to sit down.
The crowed was worked up into a lather (drunk and otherwise) before the concert even began. Folks were throwing hundreds of beach balls all over the place and then the little dudes came out with their t-shirt cannons. Of course, beach balls weren’t the only things being thrown. Once or twice I saw the aforementioned coconut bras go flying and then I looked directly over my head and saw a UFO.
All I could tell was that it looked small-ish, round, dark and it more than likely wouldn’t feel too good if I got hit with it. With self-preservation in the forefront of my mind, I quickly stepped to the side without a thought as to warning Dad. Of course, Dad saw me looking up and looked up as well, but it was too late to do anything by that point in time and he got nailed right in the middle of the forehead. It made a very impressive percussion-like sound when it hit. It was an empty snuff can and—for those of you inclined to try it at home—I can tell you from the level of cussing that it hurt like a sonofabitch.
Finally, Jimmy came on. Of course, he was totally awesome. The problem was that the drunken fools surrounding us obviously just wanted to party, drink and pass out. Kenny G could have been playing and they probably wouldn’t have noticed a difference. Then, herbs were added into the mix.
I can honestly tell you that I have never, ever, in my entire life tried pot. The smell alone is too vile to make me even contemplate the thought. Dad and I were apparently the only ones in the whole joint (pun intended, obviously) whose olfactory senses were offended. About three quarters of the way into the concert, things were getting rowdier by the minute and I had a headache from hell thanks to all of the pot fumes.
I told Dad that we needed to go or I was going to throw up. I hated to do it because the music was awesome, but we had to. We gathered our stuff and started weaving through the drunken masses toward the walkway which would carry us out. The walkway was in our sights when a finely mulleted fellow with jeans, no shirt and bare feet stopped us because he was sure that we’d knocked off his hat.
It was his favorite hat.
Let me assure you that neither my father nor I came anywhere near that fool’s hat, but Captain Mullet didn’t believe us. He held us up while he searched our belongings and the inky black perimeter for his security hat. As his drunken search crept on without success, he became more and more irate.
Dad was way past niceties at this point and it didn’t look as though we were going to be allowed to leave if Monsieur Mullet’s chapeau didn’t magically reappear. I was seriously close to throwing up as the result of my contact high and, if we weren’t allowed to go on our merry way really damn soon...well, if he was upset about his hat, he most likely would not be pleased about being vomited on.
Mr. Mullet 1992 got up in Dad’s face and that’s when it happened: Dad handed all of his stuff to me and I knew exactly what that meant. I’d seen Dad make that same move one other time at the Fulton County Stadium when a dumbass drunk stumbled and knocked me several rows down. That time, Dad was trying to make sure that I was okay and the drunk...well, kept on being a dumbass. At the stadium and at Walnut Creek, Dad handed his stuff off because he needed to free his hands up for a “Good Old Fashioned Country Ass Whuppin’.” (Yes, that is exactly what Dad called it.)
I wish I could tell you what happened next, but trauma, a snoot-full of Mary Jane and the passage of time have dimmed my memory. I somehow prevailed upon the parties involved—likely by threatening to spew all over them—to let bygones and trucker hats to be bygones. Dad and I went on our merry way. I remain convinced that there are stoned-out revelers from that very concert looking for their cars in that vast Walnut Creek parking lot to this very day.
As the years have passed, Scott and I graduated to the designated seating section for concerts. Of course, numbered seating doesn’t guarantee class: We saw an elderly couple get into a shoving match with another elderly couple the year I waddled up from the parking lot eight months pregnant. I’ve seen things that you wouldn’t believe in your wildest dreams, but that first concert with Dad vs. The Snuff Can and Dad vs. The Mullet is the one I will remember for the rest of my days.