The Wolfpack Files

My Life in My Words

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fourteen Years Later...

Let me tell you about my Saturday. In order for you to truly understand the importance of this weekend, please take a moment to hearken back to my I Am a Marxist post. It's OK; I'll wait, take your time and read it carefully.

Shortly after reading (or possibly re-reading) that post a few weeks ago, my friend Monica decided to look up Richard Marx's tour schedule. And there it was. He was going to be performing (on his birthday no less) at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. I immediately said, 'let's go!' How perfect could it have been? It was on a Saturday, it was in Connecticut, and it was at a casino. Oh, and did I mention, it was free?! It's like the stars aligned for me. Monica said she'd go, and we then set out to find others who would go along for the adventure. Suffice to say, there aren't a ton of Richard Marx fans in my circle of friends, but the idea of a weekend road trip appealed to a few, so myself, Monica, Dan and Kerri piled in a car from New York and drove out to Connecticut on Saturday morning.

First up was the drive to my parents' house. Saturday was supposed to be rainy to start with, but we had pretty good weather, so that was a good start. The trip we had estimated was going to take two hours, but actually took only about 90 minutes. Another good start. We got to my parents place and had some lunch and sadly found out one friend from Boston wasn't going to make it. But our spirits refused to darken. We piled into my car to make the drive to the casino and listened to my very danceable Mohegan Mix CD I made especially for the trip. We got to the casino in about an hour where we met up with Shuchi and Prakash, who had driven into the area the night before. It was now around 2pm. The concert in the Wolf's Den wasn't going to start until around 8pm. People would start getting seated around 6:30pm, so we had some time. There wasn't a line or anything yet, so we all felt we could gamble, do some shopping and maybe get something to eat before we got seated.

Not all of us are real gamblers, but a couple of us are. I ended up at a three-card poker table. I pulled out $100 to start with and quickly was down to my final $45. And that's when the day really picked up, because with my last hand, I got dealt a 2, 3 and 4 of clubs. That's right, a straight flush. On a $45 bet, a straight flush pays off... $600! Whoo hoo! I seriously was giggling like schoolgirl when I saw my cards. I had been there for all of maybe 30 minutes and I was up $545. I played a few more hands, but I'm not an idiot. I know when to quit and I was determined to walk out of that casino with a ton of cash. Of course as I said, I had only been there about 30 minutes. So if I wasn't going to gamble any more, and we couldn't be seated until 6:30pm, what was I going to do? At this point all six of us had split up, so first we had to find the group. As it turned out, this is where I got a stroke of luck. Well, my second stroke of luck after my straight flush. Hehehehe. Anyway, Kerri and Shuchi had been wandering around as well and noticed a line starting to form and decided to stand in it. This turned out to be a brilliant decision because that line grew and grew and grew as the hours went on. All told, we stood in line for about three to three and a half hours waiting to be seated. But it wasn't all that bad. We took turns (most of us anyway) and once I got there I never left.

During all of this, they had been doing a sound check with the keyboardist singing some of Richard's songs. The great thing about the Wolf's Den is that it is in the middle of the entire old part of the casino, so you could be sitting at a table far away playing poker and still hear everything. They finished the sound test at one point and there was quiet (relative quiet I should say, we were in a casino after all) for a while. Then they came back out to do some more testing and I saw a few people in line ahead of me start waving towards the stage. I looked up, and there he was. Richard Marx, on stage. It was all very surreal to me. I mean, there he was! Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I don't have some sort of man-crush on him, but c'mon... Fourteen years! When was the last time you waited fourteen years for something and didn't feel excited? There were still a couple of hours before the actual concert started, but he was on stage, singing and I could see him.

At 6:30pm the gates didn't open. Richard was still on stage, which was kind of odd because you'd think he'd have gone backstage to prepare. Then word came which truly scared me. There was something wrong with the sound equipment and there would be a delay. I can honestly say that I thought 'you have got to be kidding me!' I was completely certain that they would cancel the concert. I mean, OK, the sound checks had sounded reasonable to me, but what do I know. Maybe Richard is one of those perfectionists that wouldn't take the stage unless everything was, well, perfect. I didn't say anything to anyone, but I was fairly certain that if the concert was cancelled, I was going to go bet $400 on number 13 and either win $14,000 or shoot myself.

Maybe 15 minutes later however, the gates opened and slowly but surely they were letting people in. The way the seating was set up was, there was the stage, then seats/tables on the floor in front of the stage and then around that and up a level were more seats. I really wanted to sit on the upper portion but along the rail so that we were closer to eye level and didn't have anyone in front of us. And this is where the friends who got in line saved us. We got seats almost exactly where I had hoped to be. Had we waited until later to get into line, we would have been shoved farther back on the upper level and had to look through people to see what was happening. So now we still had another hour before the show started. Kerri and I went and got something to eat and we got back about 10 minutes before showtime. And then, he walked out on stage.

I can't even begin to tell you what I was feeling. I had been telling my missing the concert story since it happened. All through college, law school and the rest of my life, if you're a friend of mine eventually you'll hear the story. At the time, it was a very sad experience, but as my life went on it became my go-to story to get people to laugh (and feel sorry for me. Well, not too sorry since to most people missing a Richard Marx concert would be a good thing.) But here it was, 14 years and three weeks to the day I screwed up the date of the original show, and I was FINALLY seeing Richard Marx live and in person. And it was free. And, as you can see from the picture on the left (click on it for a bigger version) I wasn't that far from him. I couldn't have been more than 10 yards away from him. It was, as I said earlier, completely surreal. And here's the best part: he put on a great show! He hit a lot of his classics, played a few songs I had never heard before, and was pretty funny throughout. At no point was I bored or felt like I had maybe built this all up over the last decade and a half. The entire show was just amazing. Thanks to Kerri and her camera, not only did I get a few pictures, I managed to get videos. Pictures are great, but for an experience like this, they don't tell the whole story. I had waited for a long, long time to see this concert and it was over in just under two hours. If all I had was a few pictures, it would have been nice, but having videos? It's like being there. And for you, my loyal readership, I have uploaded the videos for your enjoyment:

Angelia (:49)
Right Here Waiting (2:30)
Should've Known Better (1:38)

So let's recap, shall we? Fourteen years ago I had missed a concert. It turned out to be a very important moment in my life because it taught me that I should check and double check everything, and it helped turn me into the storyteller I fancy myself to be today. On Saturday, I, along with a bunch of friends, took a road trip to a casino in my home state where I won (when all was said and done, and taking into account paying for food, drinks and whatnot) $410. And at that casino there was a free concert by Richard Marx, the person I had missed fourteen years earlier. All things considered, Saturday, September 16, 2006 will go down as one of the great nights of my life. Before I go, I'd like to thank everyone that was a part of this weekend. Without you, it wouldn't have been nearly as fun and entertaining. And thank you Richard Marx, for making it all worth the wait.


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