It’s difficult to stand one’s ground when the simple act of standing is a feat unto itself. It took all of the Herculean might I could muster (OK, and a high powered energy pill that treats narcolepsy) to hang with the sweaty swarm of humanity for An Evening With Cake. I did, but not without struggle.
Nick and I knew it would be a tricky proposition going in, so we gave ourselves a healthy time cushion. We arrived very fashionably early, 50 minutes before showtime.
It paid off. We staked out our little plot near the front – second row, with a practically unobstructed view of the trumpet player. We knew it would be standing the entire time, which is why I walked gingerly and carried my big stick.
I held that precarious position, even as chaos and beer swirled all around. I made sure that my concert footprint was no bigger than anyone else’s.
And then, as it always goes in these type of mob-rule, bullies take all bloodsport situations, mid-concert two couples came from behind to jockey for better spots. One beer-laden pair aggressively pushed past us and several other people to get front and center. The other couple, however, I didn’t allow passage. I was polite but firm.
“I can’t let you have this spot where I have been standing all night.”
“It’s not assigned seating,” they retorted.
“No, but it’s common decency to not push people out of your way just because you want to be closer,” I asserted, adding a dig. “Get here earlier next time.”
Knowing they were at an impasse, they stood right next to me the rest of the show – him elbowing me every chance he got. It became a high-wire act to both physical and emotional balance.
Now, I’m not naive enough to think that this is the first time in the history of live entertainment that people have run roughshod to get to the front. Hell, I’m sure I’ve done it on a few occasions. But I stopped long before it got to outright meanness and complete disregard for my fellow concertgoers. I’m not “that girl.”
An argument can (and will) be made that I had no business being where I was with my condition. That I should have known my place – in the back, sitting, not complaining. But only I (and a doctor) can say with much authority what I am capable of – and right now I am able to stand for a decent length of time provided I have a spotter and my cane for support.
This couple saw that cane and still pushed.
When I asked them to give me some space so that I could adjust my stance, (go ahead with the Larry Craig cracks) they still pushed.
Now, this is not me railing against the cruel, cruel world, penning my MS Manifesto or demanding special treatment because I have a limp and a cane. I don’t play the disability card because I could really do without pity – I just wanted to keep my spot.
And this was but a blip in an otherwise perfect night. What I will take away from the experience was the feeling of transcendence, the getting lost in the lyrics and bobbing along to the infectious sound. I marvel at Cake’s sly musicianship, effortless looking but dangerously intricate.
But the more distance I got immediately after the show, the more I was overcome with emotion, mainly confusion, but some anger. I feel quite conflicted by the whole situation, honestly, torn between just saying bygones or taking a stand against the callous way in which we all treat one another, the way we push when no pushing is necessary, the way we stop at nothing to get what we want, even if that desire is just to get 5 feet closer to the stage.
So, naturally, I write here to sort out those feelings, to seek a measured response, to start a dialogue in the hopes that others can help me wrap my mind around this. And, it can be said, to ensure my indignation is righteous, I take my case to a sympathetic audience.
But more than anything, I just hope that couple will someday understand why I stood my ground, why it mattered so much.
Because when just standing is a challenge, you dig in your heels and stay resolute. And then you close your eyes and let the music wash over you, hoping you don’t lose your bearings too much along the way.