“Want to go see Jimmy Buffett tonight?”
This is what my sweet and well-meaning boyfriend asked me Tuesday morning. I thought he was joking. He wasn’t.
“I got four tickets and premium parking……FOR FREE!,” he said.
I replied with a simple and sad: “Do I have to?”
Now, I come from a little beach town where at least 90% of the residents would kill for this kind of experience. Me, not so much. I’m not going to say I have never hummed a few lines of “Margaritaville” while relaxing on the beach. Or enjoyed the well-known anthem, “Cheeseburgers in Paradise,” just once or twice throughout my life. But I did not know what I was in for.
We parked right next to the biggest truck in the parking lot and passed plenty of party bus tailgates on the way. These people really do go all out. Girls drunkenly stumbling in grass skirts in the middle of Raleigh, North Carolina and boys who slapped on floral Hawaiian shirts, chugged their Bud Lights, and called it a night. Seriously, I don’t think a few even made it to the lawn. Since the show was a free endeavor, we didn’t mind spending an unreasonable amount of money on one beer. I bought a Bud Lite Lime-a-Rita just so I could fit in. (And maybe get just tipsy enough to forget that I was missing bar trivia for this.)
I couldn’t hide my smarmy judging face. It was impossible to put it away. There were beach balls, straw hats, and plastered old folks as far as the eye could see. These people were excited as hell for their savior to come on stage. For $50 dollars a pop, these crazies give SO MUCH MONEY to a guy who was just smart enough to fill the right niche thirty some years ago. They all fell for his beach music/country/faux-steel-drum jams. This guy literally has a nationwide cult–The Parrotheads. And they are the happiest damn people in the world.
So here we were. My boyfriend was plastered. I was just doing okay. I honed in on Twitter so I could at least document the madness. I do say that I have to appreciate the enthusiasm though. I’m sure I would look just as crazy at a concert of my own liking. Actually, I probably looked just like them at Neutral Milk Hotel last February. We all have our obsessions, I suppose.
Halfway through my Lime-a-Rita, my observation skills really started to kick in. I soon realized that their form of “dancing” could easily be substituted for plain and simple drunk swaying. These folks turned it into an art form. And when that happy little Jimmy Buffett even jumped from excitement, they wooed like it was the second coming of Christ. And he was laying down all the hits. They knew every single word.
And did I mention that there was a spattering of surprisingly young fellows. Shirtless and blackout, they were partying with the old folks and fitting in just fine. Apparently this is an equal opportunity drunken beach music fest. I thought it was just for mid to late life crises.
My favorite song of the night (previously unknownst to me): “Too Drunk to Karaoke.”
“HOLY HELL, THIS IS A REAL THING,” I couldn’t help but exclaim to my dear drunken partner. This guy should try out advertising. He hits the nail on the head and somehow combines the segments of alcohol-lovers, potheads, old folks, rednecks, and yuppies all at the same damn time. I mean I saw this one kid just walking by with a full on bong out in the open. Not a bowl, a straight-up bong. I mean, I don’t even think I saw a bong out in the open at the festival grounds at Bonnaroo. Seriously. They kept that shit for the campground.
I didn’t get to stay the entire time: Thank God. We had the benefit of not paying for the ticket and therefore not caring about the value of being there all the way through. I think we ended on “Cheeseburgers in Paradise.” Until then, I thought only pimply 12-year olds and 40-year old men loved cheeseburgers that much. But now I know that this market belongs to Jimmy Buffett Parrotheads.
But you gotta give it to them, these Parrotheads know how to have a damn good time.
P.S: I SAW PAUL MCCARTNEY ONCE, YOU KNOW!