Act I: The Mullet
The summer I was 14, I went to the first swim team practice only to see this cute, bemuscled tan boy about my age. This was only unusual because the town I grew up in was so small that I knew *everyone* unless they had just moved to town (he had). I thought this boy was cute and I liked his muscles and his tan and his ability to swim a mean butterfly (I didn’t like his mullet, but it was 1993 and I didn’t care THAT much). We began hanging out on a semi-regular basis, taking the bus to Healdsburg to go swimming at a different pool and see a movie at the movie theater (my town didn’t have one at the time) or renting movies and watching them at one anothers’ houses. I really liked this guy, though his maturity level left something to be desired. It was so weird; he was kind of stuck in the 80s, what with his mullet and his love of bands that had made it big in the 80s and were no longer big. I learned eventually that he had a much older brother to whom he looked up with great affection and emulated to some extent – so his taste in hair, clothing, and music pretty much stemmed from what his brother had liked in 1986. He was so intelligent and funny and cute and yet he just WOULDN’T kiss me (warning sign #1).I mean, what the hell? We hung out for months and held hands sometimes and that was all, and eventually I took matters into my own hands and kissed him sometime in November. Man, was he ever a big pussy.
Act II: The Gift
Despite his reluctance to do much with my physically, he got over it eventually and we did the typical young teenager things (all quite properly above the neck, of course, with more hand-holding and such). He still attended school in another town, so I only saw him sometimes in the evenings or on weekends. We saw movie after movie and, because we were only 14, had to rely on our parents for transportation if we were going anywhere out of town. Mullet boy began to talk about a surprise that he had for me, that I was going to just love. It was going to be my Christmas present and was something he had been planning for ages. I got a little excited – what the hell could he be so excited about giving me? I knew whatever it was had to be important to him. Christmas came, and with it my present: tickets to the Rush concert at the Cow Palace in January.
Now, I’d always been very honest with him about my opinions on his taste in music. I didn’t much like Rush, even though they had a new album out that he was so into, and I had told him so on more than one occasion. But since HE wanted to go to the concert, naturally I must want to go, right? And a part of me was just a little excited, since I’d never gone to a big concert before. Plans were enacted for his mom to go with us and, in so doing, chauffeur us down to the City. He was elated for weeks looking forward to this concert. I was torn; I wanted to go to a big concert, but did it HAVE to be Rush?
Act III: The Misery
The day of the concert, Mulletboy and his mom picked me up in her new little Dodge Neon and we headed south on Highway 101. Around the middle of Santa Rosa, the car started making noises. Bad noises. Then it began to sputter and jerk. Then it died just after his mom pulled over to the side of the freeway.
Sucky, right? Yes. But this guy – his reaction was utterly childish and ridiculous. He screamed. He cried (he literally cried tears of rage), he stomped his feet, he got out of the car and punched it. Damn. I knew right then that my relationship with this guy, no matter what the outcome of the concertgoing experience, was doomed. I would never want to spend much time with a guy who acted like a 3-year-old when things didn’t go his way (I had a perfect example of why not at home). So his mom calls his stepdad; stepdad comes with another car; we drop off stepdad and drive on our merry way once more in a crappy old uncomfortable 2-door of some sort.
We get to the concert. It is enormous, and overwhelming. There is pot smoke and cigarette smoke and mullets everywhere, men of many ages in that white t-shirt or black t-shirt and torn basic jeans and white or black sneakers. Some were wearing the flannel shirt, such coture. The opening band was actually pretty fun (The Melvins), though I wasn’t at all familiar with their music and our seats were pretty terrible in terms of what we could see and it was all way too loud and kind of scary. Then Rush came on.
Oh, my god. It was awful. There was a terribly cheesy light show, and they played songs that I knew and hated, and they played songs that I knew and didn’t care about one way or the other, and they played songs that I’d never heard and never needed to hear again. I got a migraine headache from all the noise and crowd and lights and smoke and there was nowhere I could go; I couldn’t get away from it, and my boyfriend and his mom were obliviously dancing terribly to the terrible horrible music that I hated hated hated.
Finally, it was over. It was late and I never stayed up that late (I was only 14, for Jeebus’ sake) and I felt like crap what with the migraine and all, and we finally got to our car and dealt with the traffic getting out of the parking lot and drove back to Cloverdale. My boyfriend insisted that he take the passenger seat, despite my headache and assorted misery (lovely boy, that, really) so I huddled in a mass on the floor of the rear with my head on my hands resting on the seat, brain feeling like I had Shaken Baby Syndrome, staving off tears of pain and horror with sheer will. After 3 or 4 eons had passed, we turned into my driveway and I stumbled into the house without a word.
Epilogue: In which I dump a guy in true teenage passive aggressive girl fashion
A few weeks later, my Valentine’s Day present (early) was a trip to the Santa Rosa Symphony, which was OK, but also kind of lame, and then I went to my camp’s midwinter long weekend over President’s Day and totally hooked up with this other guy, and then I came home and I didn’t ever call Mulletboy again. He called me a few times, and I grew more distant and made excuses, and finally he stopped calling. I still feel kind of bad about it, but I was 14 and just didn’t want to deal, so I didn’t.
We exchanged a few letters over the next couple of years and he told me that he had gotten into the whole Rocky Horror crowd, transvestism and all, which kind of didn’t surprise me. I ran into him at a video store a few years later, hand in hand with College Boyfriend. He hadn’t grown at all; was still about 5’2 or 5’3 and still had the mullet. It was a weird conversation.
So that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I absolutely hate Rush with an undying passion, and will change the radio station if I hear it, and if Hulk wants to torture me he just has to sing a bit of the chorus of “Tom Sawyer” and I will run screaming from the room. Sure, it’s irrational, but I have good reason.