Sunday, August 30, 2009

A summer story


Because my last post was a little too sobering for my tastes, I'd like to take a step in a more emotional direction. A friend of mine and I have been talking a lot about manliness lately, mainly because we were roommates in college, and now, we're no longer in college and expected to have "grown up". So, whatever that means, it means. So, as I've been thinking a lot about what manliness is in everyday situations, I'm forced to search my own life and "put away childish things" in this search for existence, fulfillment, and direction in the post-college years. Anyway, after reading an article about whether manliness is becoming more emasculated, which included great (albeit slightly archaic) raw descriptions of manliness, I realized that there was a great story of manliness that I haven't really shared in a general atmosphere. So, here it is: a story of manliness.

Virginia and I have been very good friends since our senior year of high school. Upon graduation, the question that (nearly) every high school friendship comes to was brought to light: How do we spend time around one another despite the fact that we go to different colleges? The summer after high school, she came up with a great idea: concerts! We had always had very similar tastes in music and needed excuses to drive halfway across a state to hang out. So, Virginia and I began going to concerts on a regular basis. She would choose one, I would choose one. Sometimes other people would join us, but, for the most part, it was just a great time that she and I would momentarily get to see one another and talk candidly before having to have most of a state separate us once again.

First, a few general things about the concerts that we'd been to: 1) There is no concept of personal space (if the band is good or if you want to get close) 2) Never assume that any given person is not roaring drunk 3) There is always crowd surfing (if the band is good). So combining 1) and 2), I knew that if a guy recognized that Virginia was good looking, he would have no qualms about trying to rub himself all against her in a strange drunk (attempt at a) mating ritual. So, the easiest way to combat this in a crowd would be just to cock-block him literally. However, this is difficult if you have more than one girl in the group; nearly impossible if the crowd gets a little crazier than normal (crowd surfing and/or mosh pit formation).

So, early June, Virginia told me about a concert she wanted to attend. I immediately said yes, and responded with "HECK YES!" when I finally listened to some of their music on their MySpace page. A mutual friend of ours (also pretty) decided that she would come as well.

When we got there, I realized that it was going to get crazy. We arrived a little after the first set started, and I noticed two things: I've never been in a more crowded venue and the distribution of the ages was split half and half between late twenties and teenagers (not at all a peaceful mix). Anyway, we made our way onto the back of the main floor, which wasn't so bad. We had enough room to move around and talk to one another, but everyone was constantly walking around me, so I was constantly paranoid of someone taking a swipe at my wallet. So, as the night dragged on, we moved through the crowd, closer and closer to the stage. Thankfully, there had been little craziness up until that point, just a few people crowd surfing.

Once the main band got up on stage, people went ape-sh**. People were -thrown-, not surfed, around the crowd. A 10-15ft mosh pit appeared behind me whenever any song with a heavy beat began.

To combat the first, I had to catch people flying at us (the girls were beside me), pushing them either from whence they came, or towards the stage so that a person with security could escort them to a more safe location. At one point, a person literally hit us so hard that I had to bend over to avoid falling.

To combat the second, I decided to use a non-traditional technique. Usually, you just push the people in the mosh pit, which, unfortunately, only fuels their fever to mosh, and, more often than not, grows the mosh pit instead of keeping it at bay. So, I decided that I would avoid their upper bodies, and just create a barrier for their midsections. Basically, I put my butt in the mosh pit, and it worked fantastically! No one hit my head or anything, and it started to decrease the frantic nature of the pit.

Anyway, during one really good song, the mosh pit wasn't a problem, so I was able to look around at people (since I couldn't see the stage too well). I noticed that there was just one person getting crowd surfed at the moment on my left. She went up and came back down, went -farther- up, came down, and didn't come back up.

I couldn't hear anything. The floors were concrete. A small hole had appeared in the crowd. Not big enough to accommodate a mosh pit, not small enough to be nothing. I immediately tore my way through the crowd. Everybody on the edge of the circle was just looking down. I looked back momentarily and noticed that Christina, my friend who is also a volunteer medic, was right behind me. I quickly grabbed the girl and tossed her into a fireman's carry. Moving through the crowd was much easier than it would have been if I didn't have a girl on my shoulder. Most of the way to the door, security was finally there. I looked at the poor girl's forehead: a small bump. We walked her outside. My mind raced while Christina determined that she had a mild concussion, but thankfully there was no blood. I looked back at the girl's forehead; the small lump had become something that would still be around for at least a week. It made me cringe. She was hurt, but she was safe.

Once we made our way back to where we had come from, the mosh pits started up again. However, the girls beside us thought it was funny to push others around until they got themselves pushed into the pit. A quick look of desperation and an outstretched arm later, I pulled them to safety. In all, I think I had to pull girls out of the pit six or seven times.

Did I know any of these girls? None other than the ones that I effectively protected.
Did that matter? No.
Did I act without forethought? Absolutely.
Was it the manliest part of my summer? Heck yes.

I find it interesting that those girls didn't reach out to their friends or even try to pick themselves out of the mess that they had gotten into: they reached out for a person they thought could save them in their time of need, their time of desperation. They reached out for a man, and I guess they got one.