Our heros may not always stay heroes, but their impact remains.
| “Did I tell you about the time I met him?!”
“Shut up! You did not. I swear to God Sarah, you are the biggest liar.”
“No, seriously, I can’t believe I’ve never told you. It was right here, this very campground… must have been like 15 years ago, back when I was young and partying… let’s see, I would have been like 24 or 25. It was after a concert, not when he was really big, but not very long after.”
I don’t normally eavesdrop on conversations between two women alone inside a tent, but this particular night I happened to be staggering drunk and looking for cigarette butts around the sites. It was one of those pay campground things they always use for an outdoor concert venue. Sort of like a Woodstock but not as big and they make you pay for whatever spot you want to put your tent or camper in. A weekend-long mini vacation for suburban socialites so that they can feel like they truly belong to the heritage they represent. But it isn’t for me to judge, I guess I actually do belong to that genre of life; and to be quite blunt, it’s shitty. They are the ones inside a six hundred dollar tent, with hundred and fifty dollar lanterns, two hundred dollar sleeping bags, and enough non-camping-food food to feed the entire campground for the weekend; and I’m the one sneaking around outside the six hundred dollar tent to look for half a cigarette. Bitches.
I digress. Sarah, the one I assume to be the storyteller, apparently had a story to tell.
“You exaggerate everything Sarah, you didn’t meet him. If you fucked a hobo, you’d tell everyone it was Jamie Kennedy in disguise.”
“No, I’m serious. Like I said it was like 15 years ago and he was really big like 25, 30 years ago, so when I met him it really wasn’t a big deal to meet him. Like if Boy George walked into this tent right now…. Sure, it would be cool, but would it really be something you’d wanna broadcast on the local morning show?”
“OK, I’m hooked… tell me the story. How did the Amazing Sarah meet the Country Music Superstar at the Shit Hole Campground? You’d better be convincing…”
“Well, basically he was opening the Thursday night show. I remember watching him at like six or something. He played his old hits, some new stuff that wasn’t that impressive, and I think he actually did a cover of a Mellencamp song if you can believe that. But the point is, later in the night I ran into him by one of the beer vendors. I didn’t really know what to do because I was such a huge fan before and it didn’t seem like I should mention it since he was opening a fairground show on a Thursday. So I just told him I liked the show.”
“Did he talk to you?”
“Actually yes. He was normal. It was just a girl at a campground talking to a guy at a campground. None of that teenage idol shit. And then after we talked a minute he came back to my campsite.”
Now I have to interject at this point and explain that I am repeating a conversation that I overheard. I was listening from afar so to speak and I was a bit intoxicated, so chances are the conversation did not go exactly as I am portraying here, but I just want you to get the gist.
Apparently after Mr. Big Shot Music Star went back to the tent with Sarah, there were some “goings on”. Women are always willing to drop the pants for a famous guy I guess.
“Oh my god, Sarah… he came back to the campsite? Did you…..?”
“It wasn’t like that. You see, I was star-struck when I first talked to him, but after a while it was just like talking to a regular guy. And remember, I met him at a beer vendor and he smelled like a brewery… after Eric, you know how I felt about that sort of thing at the time. But anyway, he came back to the campsite, but not alone.”
“Sarah, just stop now. I do not want to hear some bullshit story about you, him, and all fifteen of his road crew tearing up the campground naked with strawberry jelly.”
“No, no…. he brought his guitar. And the thing is, he didn’t have it with him when we met. He went back to wherever his guitar was to pick it up, and THEN he came to the campsite. But it wasn’t his regular guitar, he said it used to be his father’s and he just kinda hauls it around cuz it’s sentimental.”
Bitches. Seems like a heartwarming story to me.
“Sarah, you are such a liar. I don’t believe a word of it. You have probably never even to been one of his concerts.”
“Look, it doesn’t matter, I just need you to listen to this story. You don’t have to believe me, you just have to hear me. You know how after Eric I was all messed up back then. You know about the suicide attempts, you know about the depression. This night, meeting him, it all happened right in the middle of all that…. It’s actually why ‘all that’ ended. He came back to my campsite and he didn’t do anything. He didn’t try anything. He just sat there, by the fire, and he played that guitar. He sang some of his earlier songs and some of the songs he said his dad wrote. And that’s all, we just sat around a fire and he played some songs and we just shot the shit.”
“Sure, Sarah, I believe you. I believe you ‘hung out’ and ‘shot the shit’ with an icon. I believe you ‘kicked it’ with a legend. Are you really going to lie to your friends all your life?”
“Don’t you get it? This ‘icon’, this ‘legend’ had the time to hang out with me. He sat and talked with me. He didn’t play that guitar for a sold-out audience of thousands. He played it for me. And at that time, at that time after Eric when I couldn’t stand to live anymore, that ‘icon’ changed my life. He was the normal man that I needed in a world of uncertainty. You know what he said to me?”
“Sarah, did you tell him about Eric?”
“What did he say?”
“He said sometimes, sometimes when you truly know how life is, that’s when you need to step back and ask yourself if you truly want life to be that way; and sometimes things happen for a reason. And he said it in that gravelly, southern, country music way that he has…. But it doesn’t matter what he said. All that matters is that he said something, anything. I needed that, I needed that very much. I think he saved my life.”
I can’t tell you how that particular story ends. I don’t know what happened to Sarah and her friend. I left their campsite after I heard what Sarah said. It seemed to be a very personal story, and I didn’t feel right eavesdropping on it. I just walked away, no cigarette, back to my own run-down camper. I sat there, outside my camper by the fire and thought about what I had heard Sarah say. “Sometimes, things happen for a reason.”
I didn’t really have a lot planned for that evening, so I picked up my father’s guitar and played some of the songs I remembered playing so many years ago.