I went to a free concert at Meijer Gardens on the 4th of July with Cindy. She seems to be witnessing a few of my sober “firsts”. This time, it was at an outdoor, camp-chair, picnic basket kind of concert. I haven’t been to one of those sober before. In fact, an outdoor concert (once I recced the toilets) was always an opportunity for drunken disorderliness on my part. Where better to get pie-eyed, than a pot-holed, minefield of folding chairs, wrinkled blankets and loose detritus?
Concert Going Drunk…
In the past, I would have had a glass of wine or four as I packed the cheese and crackers. I’d happily pour the better part of a bottle of wine into a thermos “roadie” and find a clever way to hide more wine on my person. Once we got settled, I’d locate the open bar and buy three, bad wines at a time – spilling booze as I teetered over the lawn with three Dixie-cups smashed together.
I can remember the slightly desperate feeling of having to go to the bathroom (all that liquid), but feeling unsteady. How was I going to pull myself up out of the folding chair two inches from the ground? Eyeing a path through the blankets and Yetis and hoping I wouldn’t lose my tenuous balance – land on someone’s bucket o’ chicken. Or turn an ankle.
I’d leave the food untouched, flinch at the first sip of concert wine like I was taking medicine. And then it wouldn’t taste so bad. I’d get sleepy, grumpy and bored. Sounds like three of Snow White’s most unpleasant dwarfs, right? And at some point I’d hate the band or my hair or the person I was with. I’d pick a fight.
That was me, summer concert drunk…
Concert Going Sober…
So, on the 4th I entered the bandstand area, minding my own sober business, carrying our snacks in a big, blue insolated bag. And a very nice man wearing an apron and a sun hat said, “Would you like some drink coupons?”
I said, “No thanks.”
He said, “Are you sure? There’s wine and beer!”
I said, “No thank you.” I even smiled sweetly. Ask Cindy.
We walked past him and he tried again, like he was on commission, not a volunteer, “It’s delicious wine and beer and these are discount tickets!”
I said loudly over my shoulder, “I’m an alcoholic!”
He looked so crestfallen, I kind of felt badly for him. But then I thought of all the people who were new to recovery and struggling a bit, going to their first sober concert and this kindly idiot was forcing drink tickets on them. So I said to Cindy, “I wonder if I said enough? Should I have told him to take ‘no’ for an answer and to stop selling so hard?”
Cindy said, “I think you said enough… I think he got it.”
My first sober, outdoor concert was fantastic.
Free, so it wasn’t flawless, but I enjoyed every bit. I was able to make my way to the bathroom, teetering on a tiered step like a Flying Wallenda, awake and cheerful and grateful.
I got home and, coincidentally, a newly sober friend of mine wrote to say she was going to a concert and finding the prospect difficult. So difficult, she didn’t even think she wanted to go… Concerts, particularly outdoor concerts, are triggers for everybody. And it’s a shame. I told her that she was in charge of the situation – to go and enjoy herself. I said, “At least you don’t have to worry about your balance on the way to the porta-potty. At least you’ll remember what you hear.”
See how this peer recovery support works?
She said she went to an Elton John concert sober once. And the first song he sang was, “The bitch is back – stone cold sober as a matter of fact.” She says she laughed out loud… And that’s it in a nutshell – feeling alive and unfettered and happy at an outdoor summer concert. Really hearing the music. Laughing out loud…
Today I’m not drinking because there is an outdoor concert this week!!!
How come you’re not drinking?
E2E – we will NEVER forget you…