All of my concert attendances have been fun and memorable events except for one – Foreigner 1977, Miami University of Ohio. I will be a bit embarrassed to share this story but I vowed to myself to keep my stories honest and factual and to bare as much as possible without hurting anyone and without implicating myself for the relevant authorities who might desire to get back at me for beating my first speeding ticket (read me). Also, I love my wife so I need to be extremely careful not to implicate her in anything damaging…..I cannot afford a divorce lawyer.
So as not to soil or spoil any other stories I plan to write, let me begin by writing that this concert was attended during a time before marriage where my high school sweetheart and I were not official boyfriend/girlfriend. I guess you could say it was a time when I (we? Ok, I don’t need to know that) was sowing my wild oats, as the saying goes. We were apart for perhaps 6 months and I think I must have ‘dated’ half of the girls that I worked with at my night job, Taco Bell (read me for a good laugh). The 70’s were a pretty wild time as it was a time before HIV became known to us and most sexually transmitted diseases could be treated by a shot of penicillin, (which I’m happy to report was never needed).
My girlfriend at the time of the Foreigner concert was a girl named Desiree. Des was a year younger than I and had been going through some relationship difficulties of her own, as I had. We met at Taco Bell, one thing led to another and well, you get the picture. We filled gaps for each other and generally had nothing but good times during our short time together.
My best friend at the time, Terry, had asked me to be best man for an upcoming Fall wedding. Terry was my age, 19, and was marrying a younger girl. I want to say she was 16, but perhaps maybe she was 17. Whatever her age was, I recall that her parents had to give permission. He had been dating her for almost 3 years I seem to recall. She was pretty and more mature than other girls her age (certainly more mature than I was).
Foreigner had one album out, their debut album, and it had 3 singles that had cracked the Top Twenty list so they were a pretty hot new band at the time. When we heard they were to appear at Miami, Terry and I decided to get the four of us tickets. It sounded like it would be a great night!
I was not a very experienced drinker. After all, I was only 19 and I probably had my first ‘complete’ beer at 18. During late night closings at Taco Bell, we had been experimenting with cheap wine like TJ Swan and Maddog 20/20. The night of the concert Terry suggested we pick up a few bottles and get drunk before going into the concert. I remember our telling each other that we could not drink inside the auditorium so we’d better down what we could before we got there. OK, confession – “I” was the idiot that kept announcing this to the girls. “Remember, we can’t drink on the property so we better get our fill right now”. Terry was driving so he at least had the good sense not to drink much at all until we hit the parking lot. The girls and I however had put away I think 3-5 bottles between us, with my drinking the lion’s share. Like I said, I was inexperienced – tonight was to be a healthy dose of how not to drink like an idiot.
The rest of the evening is a bit of a blur. There are things I remember quite vividly and there are portions of it that I do not recall at all and had to be filled in later by my friend Terry. I recall making it ok to our seats and I remember sitting through some of the opening act, but then I told the group that I had to go to the bathroom. Terry was sober enough to see that I needed help because he escorted me to a bathroom. He directed me to a stall so I could sit down (odds are heavy that I was not walking very well on my own).
I assume I had fallen asleep in the stall because the next thing I recall is Terry looking up over the walls of the stall and raising his voice to me – “Wyatt, are you asleep?” I remember next Terry helping me to walk, if that’s what I want to call it. I don’t think I was doing a very good job because I remember seeing my brother Steve walk into the bathroom and Terry saying, “oh good, Hedda (my brother’s nickname), help me get your brother out to the car”.
I don’t remember the walk to the car. Terry must have gone back earlier to the seats and rounded up the girls because I can recall an image of my girlfriend dancing in the hall and in the background I could hear the band pounding out Headknocker (an appropriate song for what I was to feel the next day). But Terry obviously had gotten me back to the car and he was being a good friend by transporting me to his semi-furnished apartment where he and Mona were going to live after the ceremony.
I remember hanging my head out the window the entire ride, looking like a dog that was experiencing his first car ride….A very sick dog….sick as a dog, I guess we could say. I don’t remember getting sick though I’m told that I did. I do remember Terry getting me and my date up to his apartment and his spreading out a very large blanket on the floor and then his giving me specific instructions not to go back to his bedroom. I am certain he was scared to death that I would get sick there too. He left us. I remember his talking to my girlfriend but I remember nothing of what was said. The entire balance of the evening is a blur.
The plan had been to enjoy the concert and to then drop in at Taco Bell late that night so that I could perform a physical stock inventory. It was month end and it was my duty to perform as the Assistant Manager. But like all good schemes of mice and men, (drunkards), this plan was nothing more than that – a plan.
I woke up the next morning, naked except for a powder blue Miami University tee shirt I had been wearing the night before at the concert. I wandered my way to the bathroom where I had removed and left my pants and underwear. All I can think of is I must have felt warm and removed clothing, perhaps in a middle of the night trek to use the bathroom. This was pretty embarrassing because the first thing that popped into my head was – oh my God, did I do this while Terry and Mona were here? (thankfully I had not). And then the next realization hit me – I had not shown up at the restaurant last night to take inventory.
I used Terry’s phone, (land line of course – cells were not yet invented), and called into the store. Rich, the Manager, answered and I just told him – “I’ll be there in 10 minutes”. Des spoke up and said to me that she’d go in and help me. And that’s what we did. My head was splitting wide open. I was uneducated in these matters and did not understand that what my body was craving was water (and perhaps a new brain because the one it had was not very intelligent). I took a few Excedrins, made our way to the store and worked our way through the inventory process.
In hindsight, I possibly had a close call with alcohol poisoning or binge drinking, ingesting too much in too short a time period. That was 35 years go. Up until a year ago, just the smell of wine would be enough to turn my stomach. This is too bad as it seems most people really enjoy the taste of a good wine. A year ago I had an important interview with a very large wine maker so I worked my way through not feeling nauseous any longer at the smell of wine. I have been drinking perhaps a glass a month, hoping to gain an appreciation for it, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. I don’t get nauseous but it also does not taste appealing still.
Foreigner in ’77 was not my first concert, (this one was) but it was my worst. It was a stupid episode in my life. Like all dumb things we do as kids, I’d like to report that I learned something from this, something that would be useful and applied the rest of my life. That’s what I’d ‘like’ to report, but the lesson lasted only 16 years….another story to be shared at a later day.
Not Headknocker, but my favorite song of theirs – Cold as Ice
This week’s theme for ‘Remember the Time’ blog hop was of course ‘adult beverages’….they may be for adults, but they make us act like kids and idiots.
If you’d like to read the other stories from the other bloggers: