My finger was the size of an Italian sausage and had attained similar coloration- black, brown, purple and shiny blue. I had spent the previous day helping Bob wire a house and had hit my middle finger directly with a hammer. The skin was tight and I considered pricking a small hole through the fingernail as the area around it bulged like the time I insisted I could wear a cute C cup, and I wanted to try and relieve some of the pressure. Weeks later the fingernail would fall off, but I wasn’t getting such relief today.
It was freezing outside, a drab, wet December day in Gresham, 1978. Jerry had gotten us tickets to Queen the next day and I was out of my mind excited. These were the days of General Admission when everyone had equal opportunity to get crushed by the masses. I picked out a pair of mom’s highest heels as I knew I would need all of the height advantage I could get. We got on the first bus that headed into the city, I don’t know around 5am, made one transfer and got dropped off right at the Coliseum. A fairly large crowd was already gathered around the front gate, probably 50-60 people. Most of them looked liked they had camped out and were just waking up when we obediently claimed our position at the back of the line.
The party started off slowly with coffee, hot chocolate and donuts from the 7-11 down the street. A group of people would make a run while the others religiously held their places in line. Jerry also returned with chips and candy bars, which we would munch on throughout the day. As the day went on the line grew like a long snake around the building but we stayed secure and close to the front under the awning in our small tribe. The area reeked of pot and there were pods of music throughout the crowd. I remember people in sleeping bags playing cards and laughing. My huge purple finger became a source of amusement for many and I began getting stoned early that day to help me ignore the throbbing.
A small group of young punk girls, in their late teens, put Rocky Horror in the cassette player and proceeded to show us all how to do the Time Warp. I had never heard of this movie that had only been out for a few years but they were confident that it was the shit and we should all learn how to Time Warp. They spoke of people throwing toast and toilet paper and although I didn’t really understand, decided that I would ask mom to take me to see it. These cute girls took me under their wing, like a mascot, and taught me how to do the Time Warp. The party continued all day.
By the time the doors were getting ready to open, the line of people had circled around the Coliseum a number of times, with barriers separating each line, like Disneyland. Just before the doors opened, Jerry gave me clear instructions, run as fast I could toward the stage and then try and find him. I certainly was not used to running in high heels but I figured my speed would compensate for the wobbliness. Although I wouldn’t have the reference for years to come, it felt like an oversold show at the Gilman where everyone was pushing me toward the front as I tried to keep my head above the masses to breath. As we squeezed through the gate and Jerry handed the man our tickets, I saw him bolt. I tried to keep up but quickly lost him in the crowd. All instincts said, keep running, get away from the crowd and get to the stage. The stairs to the floor of the Coliseum were treacherous but I kept my balance and eventually made it to the floor. I saw Jerry standing on a pair of chairs about seven rows from the front. I quickly joined him, took a moment to catch my breath and celebrated that I was still alive. The party continued inside the venue; I caught a strong waft of sensimilla, saw a beach ball off in the distance and someone in the front row threw a loose deck of cards into the air. They were all queens.
Freddie Mercury was beautiful and I was in love. It was their Jazz tour, their first anthem album and it was right before he switched into full leather mode. Throughout the concert he wore a number of leotards with a studded leather jacket. I knew every song and sang loudly to each like a drunken pirate. He exhaled molecules that traveled the small space between us and I breathed him in. They entered my lungs and embedded themselves in my tissues and he lives in me today. Certain Queen songs evoke such strong emotions because they put me right back in this moment and I am once again a tween in love with this beautiful man with a beautiful voice. My throat swells and I sometimes close my eyes to better capture the memory. It was magical.
I don’t envy you the beatings and instability of your growing up years, but my God, Kelli—you *lived*. You were alive.
Awesome. The flipside of neglect is called freedom. I relished my freedom.