Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Day The Music Died

“Nooooo!” I screamed at Lady Gaga. “You’re going to get us killed.” I think I hurt her feelings because she gave me that you hurt my feelings look and ran off crying, into the darkness. Then I heard the distinctive crack of a 30.06. If only she had worn the orange boa.

It all started with the Lady Gaga concert at the Dothan Civic Center. As an Entertainment Consultant I was asked to escort the Lady to Cowboys after the concert for an appearance on the Cowboys Country Music Showcase taping to be aired at a later date on WDHN.

At the concert, I was seated with Dothan Mayor Mike Schmitz who was a big fan of the Lady. He sang along with all her hits, even getting up to do a little soft shoe during Edge of Glory. He has talent; if Dancing Dave ever dies, Schmitz would be a good replacement. North side Kmart would benefit from his presence.

She said good night and left the stage, but the fans wanted more. Schmitz threw his glasses down and began pulling at his hair while screaming, “Born-This-Way, Born-This-Way!” I had heard enough of this noise they called music and made my way backstage, hoping Born This Way would be the one and only encore.

At a side curtain I watched as the stage hands prepared the set for the final song. Something touched my leg and I kicked it away. I was fascinated by engineering of the set pieces as they fit together and the speed of the roadies. I felt something tugging at my pant leg and looked down to see a tiny version of Lady Gaga looking up at me. “You’re in the way,” she said.

I knelt down beside her. “Aren’t you the cutest little thing,” I said while pinching her cheek. “But you shouldn’t be out here in your undies. Where are your parents?”

“It’s my costume asshole. I’m a backup dancer for Born This Way. We all are.” It was then I noticed there were fifteen or twenty more of them, all looking exactly the same. “And I’m probably older than you.”

“My bad.”

“I saw you in the front row. Who is that guy that was sitting behind you?” She asked.

“That’s Jim Cook, local Lifestyle columnist.”

“He’s dreamy. Is he a little person too?”

“I suppose you could say he is challenged in that regard.”

“Hook a girl up. Everybody on the tour bus is going to some local bar tonight.”

“I’ll see what I can do. What’s your name?” I asked.

“Tina. Gotta go, song’s about to start.”

From the side stage I watched the last song and dance routine. Schmitz was going crazy dancing in the front row. During the dancer’s routine I lost track of the miniature Gaga interested in Cook; they all looked exactly alike. After the song the real Lady Gaga said good night, exited the stage and started to run by me. I grabbed her arm and she gave me a look like I wasn’t supposed to touch her. “Excuse me ma’am, but I am your escort for the evening,” I said.

“I have to change clothes. Meet me at the tour bus. What are you driving?” she asked as she was whisked away.

“A yellow Veloster, compliments of Dothan Hyundai.” But I don’t think she heard the last part.

I ran into Jim Cook on the way to the car. “Jim, one of those midget backup dancers has the hots for you.”

“Really, which one?” He asked.

“I don’t remember, Tanya or something. She’ll be at Cowboys.”

“Everyone in Dothan will be at Cowboys,” Jim said with a large smile on his face.

I pulled the Veloster next to the tour bus and went to find Lady Gaga. I had to pull her away from the paparazzi, if you call Dothan Magazine’s photographer taking pictures of the same old people paparazzi. She was wearing a hideous red outfit that put the Red Hat Society ladies to shame. Her hat could double as a large patio table. “That hat will not fit in the car,” I told her.

“Fine!” she exclaimed, “but I will have to change my entire outfit.”

“No, we don’t have time for that. Just put it on the bus. The bus is going to the same place.”

“But the hat matches my slacks.”

“The outfit looks fine without the hat.” Not really.

“If I can’t wear the hat I have to find another wig.”

“Your hair looks fine.” It didn’t, it actually made me squint my eyes.

“It doesn’t, I can tell by the way you are looking at it.”

“Just run a brush through it and let’s go,” I pleaded.

“No, I have to change outfits,” she said as she stormed back onto the bus. A short while later she came out in an asymmetrical dress with flashing orange LED lights and a bright orange feather boa.

“We’re just going to Cowboys you know. There’s no need to get all dressed up.”

“You hate it.”

“I didn’t say that, but you may be a little overdressed. Really now, this is a country bar, just a nice shirt and some jeans, maybe a pair of cowboy boots. I’m sure you have some boots in there.”

“Honey, there’s no such thing as overdressed.”

“Great, wonderful, let’s go,” I said as I held the door for her. Soon enough we were speeding down 231.

“What’s your name sugar?” she asked.

“Thomas, you can call me Notconcerned.” I answered tersely.

“You can call me Lady.”

“Nice to meet you Lady.” I paused for a second, then sang “of the morn-ing”

She joined in, “Love shines, in your eyes.”

“Sparkling,” came from the back seat and I almost lost control of the car. Jim stuck his head through the front seats. “Hey man, sorry to stow away but I met Tanya and she’s great.”

Tanya, a miniature version of Lady Gaga, stuck her head through too.

“Ooh girl, no you didn’t” Lady said, “Tina had her eyes on him.”

“Looks like she came up short,” Tanya said.

I giggled. “Am I the only one who finds that funny?” No one answered. “I guess not. We’re here.” I stopped by the front door. “Everybody out, we’re late, let’s go.”

“Wait, I have to change clothes,” Lady protested.

“You just did that. We don’t have time, just go sing one song and then you can change for the interview.” She didn’t like the idea but agreed.

I held the back door open as everyone from the tour bus along with our car filed in. Surprisingly, her whole entourage fit on the stage: Lady Gaga, several midget backup dancers and a bunch of muscular dancer guys wearing only very small short pants and Mardi Gras masks. Well, most of them were muscular, there was this one guy a little older. Lady grabbed the microphone and screamed “How’s everybody in Dothan tonight ?” and a hush fell over the crowd. She made common mistake of pronouncing it Dah-than instead of Doe-than.

“Git on outa here,” someone yelled from the crowd.

Lady Gaga, bless her heart, struck a pose with her bright orange boa, not really a Vogue pose, although the patent restricting Voguing had long since passed and she was free to do it, but chose not to out of respect for the Madonna. Instead her pose was that of an artist, an artist whose real name was no longer used due to her fame, whether it is by a loved one or the throngs of fans, an artist who longed to be a real person once again and called by their own name. She raised the microphone to her mouth and whispered, “Well it was all, that I could do, to keep from crying” and the bar erupted in a joyful noise. The music began playing, dancers commenced dancing and all was right with the world. As she continued singing a tear welled up in my eye, for I knew I was witnessing the greatest musical artist the world had ever known. Not even Dr. Hook got this kind of reaction from the Cowboys faithful.

Being the artist she was, she knew exactly what the audience needed to hear and she gave it to them, with the flair, style and fabulousness that only a Nebraskan can give. Who knew Nebraska was the center of the artistic universe. Soon, the song was taken over by the crowd, “and I’ll hang around as long as you will let me, let me, let me, let me, let me.”

I walked up to the stage and extended my hand. She took it and stepped down from the stage as the crowd continued to sing. Then I noticed a scuffle on the stage. Tina and Tanya had gotten into a shoving match, which turned into a full brawl. Soon all of the midgets were fighting amongst themselves. It was a miniature free for all and the crowd loved it even more.

Jim Cook tried to get onstage to break up the fight and get to either Tina or Tanya, but the male dancers kept him away. All but one of the dancers. The one who was not as young and muscular as the others, it didn’t matter as he was still rocking the Daisy Dukes. He continued to dance, whether it was dedication to his craft or the music simply moving his soul, he danced and he danced. But it was not the choreographed dance the others had been doing. It was a soft shoe, as only the Mayor could do. Some people wish for their dreams to come true, others make their dreams come true.

I smiled and said to her, “They’re going to be talking about this night for a long time.”

“Mind if I change before the interview?” she asked.

“As you wish my dear, you are the best,” I said as I escorted her to the tour bus. While I waited outside I understood what all the hoopla was all about. I finally realized the raw emotion music can convey to even the most hardened easy listening, light rock fan like myself. I could still hear the music playing inside the bar. I noticed a few people in the parking lot when I began to spin around and wiggle my arms, but I didn’t care. I was compelled to dance. I was so excited to be alive.

I heard the tour bus door open and I turned to face her. She exited the bus wearing a brown fur hoodie. My happiness turned to terror as I saw her casually reach back and pulled the hood up over her head. The hood had antlers. Of all the crazy outfits she had been known to wear, none of them ever put her in danger as did impersonating a deer in South Alabama. She smiled as she skipped gleefully over toward me, all I could think about was the hundreds of drunken rednecks close by whose ultimate joy in life was getting a big buck and I screamed, “Nooooo!”

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