Don't Look Back In Anger

We need to talk about Henry.

A full summer evening of pounding rock and roll at Atlanta's Masquerade Club in the early nineties sounded like heaven to most people, especially with a roster that included Helmet and Rollins Band among other earsplitting favorites.

I had made the mistake of attending this show solo since I had been in lone wolf mode after finding out my boyfriend did not enjoy the thrill of the rock concert the way I did, so I naively made my way to the front where others gathered in the sweltering outside space.

Soon enough, the combination of thundering music, torrential rains, unbridled testosterone, and a poorly constructed wall resulted in an out-of-control crowd and a wave of sopping wet humanity crashed through the wood barrier and snapped my tiny arm.

At first I was livid.

Why should an event like this necessitate a trip to the hospital?

How was I going to locate my boyfriend at whatever godforsaken local bar he had chosen to haunt that evening while en route to the emergency room?

Why was Henry Rollins still screaming and stomping around on stage in just his shorts while my once straight appendage hung in a limp grotesque manner at an angle indicating it might fall off?

Suddenly I was swept up by the largest, and in my opinion, most courageous concert security guy I've ever seen.

It was like he had all the lifting powers of Superman and the quiet heroism of Thor as he dragged myself and another clearly more injured person out of the pile up and out into open space.

He called an ambulance and splinted my arm while tending to the others who were laying out like dead bodies, waiting for the plague cart to pick them up and dispose of the corpses.

I was full of questions.

Could I leave my car in the lot overnight?

What would I do if I was at the hospital all alone?

How would I get home from medical treatment with only one good arm?

And most importantly, could he get an autograph and a concert t-shirt from Rollins Band?

He promised me that everything was going to be alright and said he'd try to get me a souvenir but my pleas were drowned out by the wailing sirens that were getting closer.

Finally, I waved good-bye through a team of concerned medical professionals who were hooking me up to all sorts of fun stuff as they checked my vitals and poked at my arm.

Henry, I never got my t-shirt.

It would have been especially helpful since the hospital staff cut my saturated too-tight clothes off of my body in a comical series of errors where they rushed me in and acted like my life was on the verge of being snuffed out.

The guy standing over me brandishing the large ER scissors seemed to really relish that part.

Later that evening, patched up and annoyed, I wandered home in an ill-fitting set of scrubs, my hair still pasted to the sides of my head with the shredded remains of my outfit in a Kroger bag.

Many years have passed and I've seen Henry a few times since, mostly during spoken word performances where after the show he always struck me as an incredibly decent guy.

Still, the memory of a rain-soaked bone-busting night twenty years ago is lodged firmly in my gray matter as I look at the empty space in my concert t-shirt drawer. So it is with high hopes that I will be taking a cab to the National Geographic building to see Henry on his birthday in the bleak wasteland of mid February.

What are the odds that the crowd will rise up in an out-of-control stage rush causing more snapped limbs and another chance at free clothing?

photo credit: Rolling Stone/ Keri Ann Laurito

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