Country concert gets a lil' salty

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I went to a country music concert the other night and, for me, that's quite an accomplishment. If you've read my column in the past, you would know I prefer artists that have "Lil'" in their name instead of someone who actually uses their birth name (e.g. Lil' John Doe vs. John Doe).

The odd thing is that my friends are well aware of my country music ignorance, yet they still invited me to go along on this honky-tonk escapade. This led me to believe that either a) they couldn't find anyone else to go along, b) thought they could convert me into a country music lover, or c) they just wanted to watch me and have a good laugh.

I decided to go along simply because it was something to do on a Friday night. Plus they promised we'd go to McDonald's afterward.

It's not that I hate country music. I'll listen to it if one of my friends puts it on while I'm driving, although it is unusual to hear such tunes emanating from my car. It'd be like if the owners of the Big Blue Martini suddenly switched to Beethoven's Third Symphony during a stripper's dance routine.

The trip to Poplar Bluff began after we all packed ourselves into my friend's giant pickup, because showing up in my Honda Civic at a country concert would have turned heads for all the wrong reasons. We didn't care that gas prices went up every time someone sneezed. We had to fit in.

After arriving at the Black River Coliseum, the arduous journey of finding our seats commenced. To prepare ourselves, we made our way to the snack bar for sustenance, where I ordered $3 nachos. I didn't think that was a bad price, considering vendors usually try to suck every penny out of you, like the time I paid $5 for a 20-ounce soda. That was three years ago, and I still remember it vividly. I was outraged at the price, but I also didn't want to contract hepatitis from putting my lips on a rusty water fountain.

But I soon realized they had a scheme with the nachos, which had so much salt on them I suffered a minor stroke after the first bite. I refused to give in to their little game, so I continued eating my nachos without a beverage.

Dehydrated and poorer, we finally found our seats, where, if you paid close enough attention and had a dog's keen sense of hearing, could see there was something happening on the stage. I suppose for $15 we couldn't expect much, but I didn't pay to watch what could have been a ventriloquist act for all I knew.

It might have been the salt talking, but I came up with a plan so fail-proof, my friends looked at me with a new-found respect.

"Let's move!" I said mischievously.

So we did -- to some floor seats actually. And other than the fact that Xena the warrior princess was sitting behind me, I enjoyed myself even if I didn't know any of the words. Sure, I might have felt a little out of place and, sure, my nachos made me legally insane from thirst, but I hooted and hollered the night away with the rest of 'em.

I made a little room in my heart for some honky tonk that weekend, but I still prefer getting crunk with my Lil' friends. Fo' sho'.

Sam DeReign is a student at Southeast Missouri State University. Contact him at sdereign@semissourian.com.

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