May, 2003. Milwaukee, WI.
It was a weeknight and we were here for one reason and one reason alone: Opeth, the heaviest band in the land, is playing TONIGHT and is going to decimate everyone in the building with the kind of riffs and chops that only the Swedes seem to have at the ready.
A co-worker had tickets. We had a place to stay in Milwaukee that night. This was going to be awesome.
We drove up straight from work blasting whatever ridiculous heavy metal CD's he had in the car and generally disregarding all traffic laws and the safety of others in pursuit of getting that much closer to HEAVY FUCKING METAL!!!
After several hours of traffic and hiding out in some bar whose name I forget, it was showtime. And it was awesome. And the pits were ridiculous and the band sounded terrible, as most do at The Rave, and the house was packed to the gills with the full spectrum of disaffected youth and old-school metalheads that make up nights like these.
At some point, my co-worker's brother pointed out a girl he noticed looking at me. Of course I, of the low self-esteem and stupid haircut, didn't believe him until I caught her pointing me out to one of her friends.
She giggled, and we looked away from each other. Whatever.
Some time later the girl approached me.
"There's something I need to ask you," she said.
Okay, I told her. Fire away.
"Why are you so dressed up?" she asked.
Ah, so that was it. We'd come here straight from work, I told her, and I had just forgotten to bring anything more suitable. It wasn't even that dressy, really - slacks and a polo shirt - and I thought the whole point of being an adult was not to get caught up in that kind of thing anyway.
She started laughing at this. "You just really stick out here, that's all."
I asked her if that was good or bad.
"No, it's just...people shouldn't look good at shows like this. You look like you don't belong here."
"Well," I told her, "you could maybe learn a thing or two from me."
"Because," I told her, "it took me less time to look this good than it took you to look that bad."
I thought this was brilliant; she disagreed and stormed off. My co-worker saw all of this go down and couldn't believe it.
"Idiot!" he yelled at me. "What's the matter with you?"
"Well," I explained calmly, "sometimes you just gotta throw inside. Maybe she meant well but you can't take that from anyone."
He shook his head in dismay. "You gotta drop this baseball shit."
"No way," I told him. "Maybe YOU just need to learn to do what Jack McDowell would do."
He paused for a moment, then told me ex-Sox players probably wouldn't go around telling girls and women that they were unattractive and stupid.
Actually, I thought, #29 probably just never would've worn khakis to a metal show in the first place. I made a note to myself to find a new line of work...or to at least start bringing a change of clothes for times like this.
My ideas, however, would eventually be vindicated; hours later on our way out, we saw the girl making out with some random guy, pull away from him for a moment to throw up onto West Wisconsin Avenue, then resume their impromptu lovefest as though her emptying the contents of her stomach into the street was just another part of the drunken courtship ritual.
Heavy metal and boyhood heroes had triumphed again, and the world was a better place for it.