Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Bonnaroo, Part II
What would you do to see Radiohead? Would you lie? Cheat? Steal? Because apparently, I would do all of that, and then top it off with a little “contribution to the delinquency of a minor.” Actually, I think he was well on his way to delinquency; I may have just helped him along.
On night three of Bonnaroo 2006, after sweating in the broiling sun for 12 hours and talking to way too many drunk/high/hopeless hippies, Linds and I were very excited to use our backstage passes to get prime seats to the Radiohead concert. Free beers in hand, we proceeded to the VIP bleachers, only to be told to keep walking – the stands were full. We took one look into the sea of people – 90,000 hippies that hadn’t bathed in three days – and started to panic.
Earlier that day, while I was taking a break and straining my neck to catch a little of the Beck show, I’d sent Lindsay a text message, jokingly suggesting that we could get into the disabled section for the Radiohead concert if she could find me a crutch to lean on.
I am a genius.
But if I’m a genius, then Lindsay is an eagle-eye mastermind, because she spotted them first: a pair of chrome crutches propped up against the railing that divided the VIP bleachers from the disabled section. The exchange went something like this:
“Hey – can we borrow a crutch real quick?”
“Can we borrow a crutch? Just for a second?”
“MOVE IT ALONG! NO BLOCKING THE AISLES!”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“Take it around and come and sit right next to you. We’ll get you beers.”
The kid passed his crutch to me through the bars. It wasn’t until I held it upright that I realized it was the same size as me. I couldn’t even reach high enough to try and get it under my arm. I started hollering to Linds, who had already taken off. I grabbed her bags and shoved it under her arm. As she shuffled along (the crutch was too big for her as well), a security guard saw her and started shining a flashlight and shooing people to the sides, shouting for them to make way for the girl on crutches. I was scrambling along behind her, weighed down with both her bags and mine, insisting to security that I was the companion for my handicapped friend.
We made it into the disabled section with no problem. We handed the kid his crutches and leaned up against the railing, absolutely ecstatic that we weren't drowning in the heaving blob of people before us. We were pretty proud of ourselves, until another security guard came into the disabled section checking "access bracelets."
She asked for mine, and I showed her my backstage pass. She pointed at the blue wristband the kid next to us was wearing. Lindsay just looked at me, silent. The words just kept coming...
"Oh! I'm sorry. My friend just sprained her ankle yesterday and I'm her companion. We didn't know that we needed access bracelets. Where can we get those tomorrow?"
I may be a genius, but I'm definitely going to hell. I don't know why she believed me. How would we have gotten a crutch in Manchester, TN without even knowing about the First Aid tent that handed out disabled access bracelets?
It was a dramatic, morally-compromising evening up until the point when I remembered that I owed the kid and his friend beer. I was now going to have to exit the safety of the disabled section, force my way through the mob of people, snag more free beers from the backstage bar and then make it back before Radiohead started. It was the Bonnaroo Physical Challenge. And of course, Lindsay couldn't come with me to help -- she was disabled.
It was a perilous journey that included waiting for security guards to look away before dashing into the bleachers, and shouting "I'm in the disabled section! I'm the companion!" to more one security guard. My personal favorite was handing the kid's beers over the railing to Lindsay, as a security guard came after me in the aisle shouting ahead to his co-worker, "Watch her! Make sure she goes into disabled!"
She may not have known it at the time, but the look Lindsay gave me seemed to say, "What the hell have you done?"
But I made it back to the safety of the disabled section without (much) incident, we toasted the kid on crutches and leaned against the railing again, marveling over what we would do to see Radiohead.
It was right at that time that a woman appeared virtually out of nowhere next to me.
"Uhhh..." I said, wondering if I really had gotten a contact high.
"I was under the bleachers!" she said, "I've been there for two hours!"
Apparently, I'm not the only one to do something extreme to see Radiohead.