For high school and college kids, musical concerts are all the rage, and when a big name comes to town, the phrase “be there or be square” can apply. When Elton John came to Atlanta in the 1970s when I was in high school, I couldn’t resist. His was the first major concert I attended, and the memories of going to my first big time musical performance are still fresh to this day.
First, some background. As a teenager, I was fanatic about Elton John, originally named Reginald Kenneth Dwight. I bought all his records and listened to them over and over. I studied the lyrics of his songs, and read about his hometown and upbringing. I even gave a report on him for a class in high school. When I learned he was performing in my home town, there was no way I was going to miss him. Never mind that the concert was on a weeknight and I would have to get up early the next morning for school. I insisted on going. I begged and pleaded, and finally my mother relented. I asked at school if anyone was interested in attending with me, but got no takers. No matter, I was determined not the miss this once-in-a-lifetime performance.
I scraped together the money and bought a ticket in the nosebleed section, and on the night of the concert, I was too excited to think straight. My mother warned me to drive carefully, be back before it got too late, and take a few dollars with me in case I needed to use a pay phone to call home for anything.
I made a few mistakes. One was a lack of planning, and the other was logistical.
The lack of planning was due to the failure to heed the advice to take some money. I went to the concert with nothing at all in my wallet. After all, when Elton John is in town, who can think of anything else? I had no money to buy a “souvenir program” the vendors hawk, and not even enough cash to pay for a hot dog or a soda at the concert. But I didn’t care. I was ecstatic I was even there, never realizing I would have some unpleasant memories of my first concert.
The show went fine and Elton John was great, but afterwards, the logistical error I made became apparent when I tried to get home.
When the thousands of fans were streaming out, getting in their cars and leaving the parking lot, I found to my dismay I could not drive home using the same route I had driven to the concert. The police had closed off some roads to redirect the flow of traffic, and I was forced to drive out and down an unfamiliar road. I quickly became hopelessly lost. Navigating unfamiliar streets in downtown Atlanta late at night when I was tired and grumpy took its toll. I drove and drove, then drove some more. The frustration built up, and I began to feel like I was driving in circles.
I finally got home, but it seemed like it took me forever. I passed by several pay phones, but unfortunately, I couldn’t call to let my mother know I would be late getting back because, of course, my lack of funds. My poor mother was frantic when I finally pulled into the garage close to midnight. I was furious at myself for poor planning. But in retrospect, I realize wouldn’t have missed the concert for all the tea in China.
Create Date: 11/09/2010