Last year, I wrote about all the fights I’ve been coerced into during my lifetime. Many times, I’ve stopped short of having a full, physical confrontation. One of those encounters happened 30 years ago, after a Cheap Trick concert, of all things.
My friend Paul and I took our girlfriends to see the band at Westbury Music Fair in August 1991. Concerts at the venue are held in the round, while the stage slowly revolves. There is no smoking allowed inside the building. But during the opening act, a girl sitting behind Paul was sneaking drags from a cigarette she was hiding under her seat.
Due to asthma, the smoke burned Paul’s throat and made his eyes water. During the intermissions between band performances, he asked if anyone needed something. I loudly said, “We could use a soda.”
Paul used that request as a pretense to tell an usher. The girl was warned to put out her cigarette or be ejected. She scowled, but did as instructed (since the lights were on and the staffer was standing right there).
During the performance, Paul realized the girl was still smoking. He turned and scowled at her. She ignored him, so he turned and gave her a raspberry (seen but unheard due to the volume of the band).
After Cheap Trick finished their set, we saw multiple cigarette butts under the girl’s seat. Getting caught had motivated her to break the rules repeatedly, using her purse and a plastic beer cup to mask the cigarettes. Like a current-day “Karen,” she was aggravated at being inconvenienced while disobeying the venue’s rules against smoking.
As we stood up and assessed the best way to exit the building, the girl looked at Paul and said “I’ll bet you’re the one who wanted to get me kicked out.”
Paul replied, “You tried to get yourself kicked out by smoking when it’s against the rules.”
As people moved around us to reach the exits, two muscle-headed guys who weren’t with the girl and her friend lumbered down the aisle, walking against the crowd towards us. They either sensed a confrontation, saw an opportunity to pick up these women, or both.
One of them asked, “These guys giving you any trouble?”