We took the boys to their first “big” concert: Garth Brooks at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
“Will it be wild?” they asked.
I told them this was the big time, complete with 40-somethings up past their bedtime and $12 beers at the concession stand.
But, given that it was, in fact, 40-somethings, I figured no major shenanigans would be going on. Their innocence wouldn’t be robbed and we wouldn’t spend the night in the middle of a brawl.
The concert itself was amazing. The people were amazing. Some 9,998 of them were amazing and trouble-free. There were only two that caused a problem. And they stood two rows ahead of us, holding up two signs the entire time.
We couldn’t see Garth on stage, and we couldn’t see him on the big screen. The posters were up, at varying heights, every single song.
As you might imagine, things got heated.
Several people asked the women to take down their signs. Politely. But the women and their boyfriends laughed and drank and ignored the people booing at them and pleading with them.
Two little old ladies finally gave up and sat down, resigned to only listening to Garth on the world’s largest boom box. An hour into the show, another woman had had enough. She tore first one sign, then the other, out of the two women’s hands.
The boys looked at me and raised their eyebrows.
“Everything’s fine,” I assured them as I flagged down a woman in a t-shirt marked STAFF. “We need security over here!” I hollered.
Now is a good time to note that I am always the nice girl in the group. The polite one. The one who would never cause a ruckus. The one who would try to calm everyone down while flagging down security.
But the STAFF impersonator looked at me, looked at the fracas and walked away. I can only assume that she had her free t-shirt and nothing was standing between her and Garth.
This is when I got the first inkling that I was about to get involved.
As everyone shouted at them, the two women scrambled to pick up their signs, ironed them out on their thighs and put them up again.
Someone had to do something, anything. But when my husband Tim leaned toward the women, I intervened. He looked especially threatening towering over the women and I didn’t want us getting kicked out.
“Let it be. They must be almost done by now,” I said.
But silently I was working out exactly what I would say if I got the chance. You know what I mean. Coming up with the perfect scorching speech to shout at them, a speech I would never in a million years say to a complete stranger.
Or would I?
The next song ended. And the applause ended. And a quiet swept through the crowd for a split second. And I snapped.
I reached forward and poked one of the women in the back, my finger carrying the force of an anvil.
“Hey YOU!” I bellowed. The rocket was launched.
She put down her sign and turned to face me. She immediately went into a frenzy, screaming the f-bomb over and over and flipping me off with a craziness that, frankly, I found satisfying. She was not having such a great time after all, was she?
I tried to look tough as I stood there with my driving glasses on so I could see (not see) Garth and my hair in a ponytail.
“I want to TALK to YOU!” I hissed in the tone that makes my kids immediately unload the dishwasher.
The man nearest me leaned slightly to the left to give me more room to work. The woman and I were sucked into some kind of airless, noiseless zone where every word I said was radioed straight to her addled brain.
“We paid our money just like you to see this show!” I shouted (pointing, almost breaking my finger with effort).
I saw a flash of acknowledgment cross her face even as she shouted f-bombs at me.
I kept going.
“How would YOU like it if I stood in front of YOU with a sign the entire show?” (point, point, strain, point).
Again, I saw it in her face, that she knew I was right. She answered with more swearing and shouting.
I cut her off.
“And my kids are sitting right here with your filthy mouth. You should be ashamed of yourself!” (Felt a little marmish with this one, but I carried on.)
Then, I was as close to her as I could get. And that’s when I delivered my final, and fatal, blow, the blow I had imagined all my life, in my wildest bad-girl dreams:
“DO YOU WANT TO TAKE IT OUTSIDE?”
My ponytail was on fire at this point and my 21-Day-Fix muscles had split the seams on my mom cardigan.
The woman suddenly shut up and turned her back on me. I waited. She said nothing more. And she did not put the signs back up.
I was elated.
I had not sworn at her (despite every entry of the urban dictionary coming to me), I had not lost control (although I was shaking), and I had not let my eyes bug out of my head (entirely).
I had actually kept my composure while putting the screws to her in front of my children.
When I looked at the boys, they shouted in delight: “Mom! You totally burned her!”
“Did you hear what I said?” I shouted, also delighted.
“No!” they shouted back.
But it didn’t matter. They had seen me stand up for myself. And it felt good.
I continued to watch her and waited. Then, it looked like she was, could it be, crying? Her boyfriend started rubbing her back and she hung her head. She didn’t look back at me again. Instead, they collected their things and those huge signs and left. They did not look at us and they did not look at Garth. They were finally done.
I felt like Superwoman. It was the first time, ever, that I had confronted a stranger like that. I was high with it! (In fact, I had a few other people I was going to contact as soon as this concert was over.)
The party then officially started in our section. We could see Garth! Everyone cheered! Victory! The rest of the show was a joy (especially considering my newfound prowess).
After the show, the guys went one way and I went the other to use the restrooms. The women’s line was 10 times as long and while they waited for me, they heard security being called: Two women were fighting in the bathroom.
The longer they waited for me, the surer they felt.
When I finally did come out, they rushed me, happy to see I wasn’t in handcuffs.
“Mom, was it you?!” the boys asked.
“Never!” I said, laughing with part shock, part pride. “Now, come on boys, let’s take it outside…”