I am so short, you guys. So, so short.
Most of the time, I don’t really think that much about how short I am. It really only comes up (ha!) in a few fairly specific situations: adjusting the seat before driving an unfamiliar car; the purchasing of pants; having to employ extreme dancer posture to juuuuuust clear the height requirement for amusement park rides; and attending any kind of general admission event.
Considering that Patrick and I have spent most of the last week attending Riot Fest in Chicago, my shortness became a bit of a front and center (oh, I crack myself up!) issue. Consequently, all of the pictures of bands and performers you will see here were taken by Patrick. This is because my view, nine times out of ten, looked like this:
I’ve more or less accepted this. I’m not a “push to the front so I can see” kind of girl, except for in very special circumstances named “Cheap Trick” that will be discussed later. This is because I care mostly about hearing the music and being able to (moderately) fling myself around like a tool. It just sounds like more fun to me than preventing my nose from getting broken or trying to engage in reciprocal eyefucking with a random bassist in the hopes of getting the set list or a backstage laminate. I’m the girl those giant monitors were made for.
My petite sisters and I have issues beyond not being able to see very well at concerts – namely, often being treated like a childlike nursery school teacher who favors sweaters featuring the alphabet and various tiny animals in tea cups, if not an actual child. I can’t be the only short young woman in the world who grits her teeth every time she hears phrases like “adorable,” “cute,” or “so tiny…its like you have elf feet!” Some girls can rock that whole charming gamine thing. I am not one of them. My substantial thighs and perpetual case of Resting Bitch Face just will not allow it.
So I really have no choice other than to be hip. A little punk rock, a little vintage elegance. Not necessarily a pin up girl from hell, but maybe a pin up girl who occasionally eats hot sauces with names like “Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein’s Made in Hell Hot Sauce.” Sometimes, I pull it off. And I especially wanted to make sure I pulled it off on our Riot Fest trip to Chicago.
I grew up in a lot of places, but the bulk of my formative years were spent just outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I also spent several lucrative summers leading ghost tours of the historic Civil War town. Every summer, the area was inundated by out of state tourists. A lot of them were very pleasant folks out to enjoy an educational family vacation. However, there was an alarmingly large portion who seemed to spend most of their time blatantly ignoring “don’t walk” signals while simultaneously coming to abrupt stops in the middle of crowded sidewalks. They were inexplicably confused by the existence of roundabouts. They would ask bizarre questions like “What do you do with all the monuments in the winter?” and seem completely satisfied with my sarcastic reply of, “We have a big barn.” The big reenactment at the beginning of July meant that at least four families were going to hold me, and not the fact that they had failed to make a reservation, personally responsible for their inability to find a hotel room within a fifty mile radius of town. “Tourons” was a popular portmanteau among the locals. I saw so many (hilarious the first time you see one) “If It’s Tourist Season, Why Can’t We Shoot Them?” bumper stickers that for awhile I believed they were being handed out with borough parking permits. So, needless to say, I have a deep-rooted fear that someone is going to think I am tourist every time I leave town. I don’t relax until someone in my new location asks me for directions. It happened twice in Chicago, so…whew.
The first step in averting tourist dorkiness through a veneer of hipness was avoiding hotels altogether. Nothing screams “I’m not from around here!” more than walking out the front door of a Hampton Inn wearing comfortable walking shoes and eating a muffin leftover from your complimentary Continental breakfast. Hotels are also hella expensive. Enter AirBnb.
This service, if you’re not familiar, allows you to rent privately owned homes from regular citizens. We lucked into the granny flat of a town home in Wicker Park, a hip neighborhood populated mostly by young creative types who probably had trust funds that we, as non trust funded young creative types, could never in a million years afford to live in ourselves. Case in point: we got a text about halfway through our stay alerting us that someone would be coming by to change out the artwork. At our house, “changing out the artwork” mainly consists of sometimes remembering to turn the page on our “Scenic Views of Cape Town” wall calendar. The place was beautiful, it was within walking distance of all of the Riot Festivities, Uber drivers could find it in a matter of minutes, and, best of all, I could walk proudly out the front door without fear that someone would smell the “out of town” on me.
Our neighborhood, in addition to being home to beautiful young people who were inexplicably affording fabulous lifestyles via part time jobs at Urban Outfitters, also contained a number of great shops, restaurants, and bars – like The Blueline Lounge and Grill, where I sucked down grilled oysters and five dollar martinis, as well as chicken pot pie twice the size of my head, all while watching Gone With the Wind on a flatscreen TV above the bar. (They had the volume off, of course, but that didn’t matter because I had all the dialogue memorized. I demonstrated this to Patrick until he asked me to stop). Also, when we mentioned we’d just gotten off a plane from DC, our ridiculously chic waitress welcomed us back home, so I was able to relax right away.
We arrived in town two days before Riot Fest started, because we wanted a couple of days to check out some museums, and because we’d found out Dita von Teese was going to be performing in Chicago a day before the festival started. There was no way I was passing that up, as I seldom make a lifestyle decision without either asking myself “What would Dita do?” or “What would Debbie Harry do?” These ladies seldom steer me wrong, as I think is evidenced by my Dita/Debbie inspired hair and makeup, which I planned specially for the show:
Being a young person of today, I naturally Instagrammed this all up in Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. I was rewarded a couple of hours later when, standing outside the House of Blues waiting for the doors to open, I got a retweet from Dita herself! Hip cred +2! We celebrated by upgrading our second tier GA tickets to first tier tickets in the pit – as close to the stage as we could possibly get. We made friends with a cool couple about our age, and had a completely fabulous time for the first half.
At intermission, an incredibly drunk middle aged man who gave off a strong “hedge fund manager” vibe and his equally drunk Amazonian girlfriend, who bore a remarkable resemblance to guitarist John Sykes of Whitesnake fame, weaseled their way through the crowd in the pit and planted themselves right in front of me. My previously great view of the stage was suddenly obscured by a cloud of Rave encrusted 80s perm. Whitesnake Hair was not particularly steady on her four inch spike heels, and I was certainly not in the mood to have my foot impaled. Brief words were exchanged between Patrick and Hedge Fund Manager, which for some reason centered on Hedge Fund Manager’s apparently deep seated issues with his height, but fortunately crisis was adverted due to the fact that Hedge Fund Manager and Whitesnake Hair were far too occupied with groping each other to notice that I’d managed to maneuver around them, far out of foot impalement zone and with a great view of the stage. A quick trip to the merch table after the show procured me a bottle of Dita’s Rouge perfume, which is my new signature scent, and myriad compliments on my personal style.
I went to bed that night feeling elated and impossibly hip. So hip, you guys.
Until I discovered I was not.
But more on that later.