This is a tale of raw stupidity, and it all starts with desertion.
With that, I’ll get right into it.
Because I’m a Bruce Springsteen cultist, I decided recently to leave the sweet bosom of New Hampshire for one day only and hit the Jersey Shore.
Out of that fever and a well-developed hunch-meter hatched over 25-years, I rallied a buddy from Manchester and my brother for an all-out road trip to Asbury Park, New Jersey to find The Boss.
I’m forty now and should be embarrassed that I still track the 60-year old songwriter with such abandonment, but not Dr J.
To me, Spingsteen’s as iconic as they come, right there with Sear Sucker suits, cigar smoke and Daniel Webster.
I really don’t know how I’d answer if someone offered me an hour of face-time with either Bruce or Jesus. I’d likely extend my hand to the bearded savior and say, “Well, I really hope I get to see you again someday. You and Nana that is.”
First thing I thought as we curved around the Jersey shoreline near Deal was, “What’s up with Hampton Beach? Can’t even find a spot to rinse the sand off my feet there.”
When we reached Asbury Park the atmosphere on the boardwalk only solidified to my intuitiveness. My decision to abandon the Granite State for one day was the right decision, damn it! The Wild Rover will be there tomorrow, as will my wife, children and work. He will not.
The night was falling into place. Alejandro Escovedo, a terrific rocker from Austin, Texas, was on stage at the Stone Pony, the Sistine Chapel of rock clubs. Escovedo alone is worth the five-hour trek to see play. He’s just too slick to explain.
He and Mr. Bruce, who lives just up the road in Rumson, collaborated recently on a few songs, and my gut said Bruce would show up at the club this night, late, almost at closing, and rip a few gems with his buddy Alejandro.
The night progressed. More VO’s and beer and something red. Lots of hopeful chatter about possibility and chance.
In-and-out we went with the doorman’s consent. His body langue was allowing the heathens to freely come and go. Just show the wristband when you come back in. Simple stuff.
Oh, Escovedo was killing it. We were maybe 20 feet from the small stage inside the Pony. The energy was swallowing us up. Everyone feeling what I was feeling.
Escovedo plays a couple more song. It’s late in the evening now, but not that late. My buddy and me decide to step outside for some “fresh air.” One last time. Then let God take over.
I shout to my pal, “Finish up. I can smell him. He’s here.”
We tap out, turn around, wrists up, respecting the law.
A new face appears before us, something much bigger, thicker than the former doorman. “No one’s coming in,” the monster says to us.
“But I got the wristband,” I say.
“Doors are closed.”
Somewhere a father drops an easy homerun ball in front of his son. A bride faints at the alter. A heart stops beating.
I cry and plead, bribing the doorman with my Hyundai.
No chance he says.
Inside, the club begins to swell. I’m blown backwards by the reverberations coming from inside.
Bruce is now onstage.
I begged onto the beast, “I came all the way down from New Hampshire! Please!”
Half-hour later, around the time Bruce and Alejandro were tearing into “Beast of Burden,” I’m face down in my pillow at the hotel, dejected as if I just got a DWI. I prayed to be mind-swept. I tried to shower. Nothing worked.
It was an unfathomable brain fart, worthy of a thousand lashings and a weekend of being water boarded.
But I suppose, that’s what I get for leaving New Hampshire.
Never do that again.
Rob Azevedo is a columnist from New Hampshire. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org