I heard the crowd roar in the distance and if I tilted my head a certain way, I could see Wesley Schultz’s beard on the big screen. (I live in L.A. now, prepare yourself for a barrage of name drops).
A slight hiccup in my otherwise perfectly timed festival schedule now made me late to The Lumineers‘ set at BottleRock. I had already committed 50 minutes to standing in line for dinner and I was just 10 people away from the window. Sure, music festivals may seem like whimsical drug-laced fun, but if you’re serious about catching as many acts as your ears can physically handle without bleeding, then you haz needz to have a plan – and stick to it. Otherwise, you’ll end up hangry while listening to a local band that plays Billy Joel covers on kazoo.
It was the last day of the festival and up to that moment, everything had gone as planned…even better than expected. And now I just needed sustenance to get me through the final stretch, as I was going to need the extra carbs to dance and scream to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (It took everything not to mention all of them by name just now. Los Angeles in the house!)
Prior to The Lumineers taking the stage, Darren Criss (Glee, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the name that I just dropped) darted through my food line to head toward the main stage, along with a long conga line of concert goers, so when a flower-crowned young woman in a white dress said, “Excuse me,” I immediately took a step back to let her through.
Only she didn’t want through, she wanted in.
“She is very hungry,” she said pointing to a perfect 6-year-old blonde, blue-eyed girl.
“Me too” I said in that way you answer and look away when a stranger engages you in unwelcome small talk while trying to listen to Neyla Pekarek on cello.
Nonetheless she continued, “The line is like an hour long and she is very hungry. She is a child and can’t wait.”
Wait. What? This woman is serious. I looked at her in disbelief. I looked at the people in line around me in disbelief. After 50 minutes standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them, they were my new best friends, so it wasn’t weird. Steve, one of my new BFFs, said, “Wow, she’s using the kid card.” (Steve is probably not accurate, but I hadn’t dropped a name in a whole paragraph).
Clearly this woman, being incredibly attractive, like a French Jemima Kirke, was not expecting much of a push back, let alone such harsh judgement. So, she continued her ramble, “When you have a kid, they don’t understand to wait. And the line is very long.” She repeated, “The line is like an hour long.”
“I’m aware how long the line is because I’m in it,” my face transformed and my (h)anger was surely palpable. “Go ahead.” I let them in. She thanked me profusely, but I didn’t engage. I was in a silent internal rage. I couldn’t hear The Lumineers anymore. I could just hear my heartbeat and that terrible voice that lives inside of me saying all of the following things:
- She played you like a fool.
- You let her in because she’s hot, even though she’s wearing that ridiculous last-season-Coachella flower crown.
- That’s not even her kid.
- She is holding a beer. I wonder if she stood in line for it or used the kid to cut for it?
- If the kid was really hungry, she would’ve been crying.
- If the kid was really hungry, she would’ve asked to cut at the front of the line, not 10 deep.
- You could’ve said no.
That was the only part of my internal monologue that was true. I could’ve said no. But I didn’t. Because it’s not the kid’s fault that her parent (but most likely guardian) is an idiot. And what’s two more minutes of waiting versus a lifetime of that little girl’s face popping-up in my head every night before going to sleep with a dubbed over voice saying, “I’m hungry, so hungry.”
I calmed myself and resumed listening to the distant chants of Ho, Hey. It was fine. This wasn’t going to ruin my perfect weekend in Napa. I envisioned grabbing my grilled cheese, plopping down on my blanket and enjoying the rest of the show.
But when it was finally her turn at the window, she didn’t know what to order…so I fucking lost my mind again.