At age 53, I’ve been spending more time reminiscing about my youth. Often, this means watching men and women in their 60s and 70s dance around the stage at concerts, attempting to act 20.
This is how I wound up at the final stop on the Soundtrack of Summer tour, which featured three bands popular in the 1970s: Don Felder (of Eagles fame), Styx, and Foreigner.
Mary Beth, my patient and saintly wife, had agreed to accompany me. Earplugs in hand, she waded with me through the sea of people intent on reliving a moment of their youth.
Once we took our seats, the excitement kicked in. Not only could we see the stage well, but in the distance we could also see the islands across the Santa Barbara Channel. We took in the view with chardonnay in hand, and the night seemed perfect…
That is, until midway through Styx’s set, when we were literally smoked out of the venue.
Styx has been pounding out drug-inspired anthems since the days of Gerald Ford, but even back in the ’70s, I never really cared for them. On the other hand, my roommate in college loved Styx.
Unfortunately, he trashed a great career in math or engineering by smoking too much pot when he should’ve been studying.
I was a straight arrow during college, and I kept myself away from pot. Many called me boring then, but I preferred to know what was happening. On top of that, I dated Mary Beth during my final year in college, and I doubt she would’ve gone out twice with me had I shown up at her off-campus apartment reeking of Mary Jane.
Up in Smoke
Back at our concert in Santa Barbara, the sun was setting as Styx played, and our wonderful night was turning into a nightmare.
Several young guys sitting next to me pulled out a newfangled bong and were taking hits like they were starring in a Cheech and Chong movie. I’m pretty tolerant, though, and I ignored them as best I could.
Then, moments later, a gray-haired couple lit up just four seats down from us. This time, they were smoking a good old joint. I continued to ignore the growing purple haze of pot above the venue.
But then the man right in front of my wife pulled out a joint and started passing it around. At this point, she turned to me and said, “Honey, all this pot is giving me a headache. I need to get out of here.”
After 30 years of marriage, I’ve learned to listen when Mary Beth speaks. Listening leads to longer and happier marriages. Believe me: All the guys at the gym who brag about ignoring their wives are no longer married.
So I turned to the bong handlers next to me and said, “Excuse me.” All I got back was a blank, glazed stare. The young man next to me was so stoned that he was incapable of even a grunt. I pushed him aside and made for the exit. Foreigner, the band I had come to hear, would have to play without me.
Now, I say all of this to make a simple point.
If potheads want tolerance from those of us not stupid enough to smoke weed, then they need to keep their habits to themselves. Get stoned before the concert starts, or bring something edible. People like us are too old to share your second-hand smoke, and it ruined a perfect evening out.
Your eyes on the Hill,