Deadly Ever After

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

Tonight We Rock Hartford

Tonight’s brew:  Starbuckian Goodness that cannot be touched until the wee hours of the morning when Kristen hits the road for work.  Yes, I have to be up at 3:30 in the morning.  And you thought show business was glamorous.

Kristen: One of my beta readers for IMMORTAL DILEMMA remarked that she was surprised that Callie could get in over her head so fast.  She is eighteen and trying to navigate her way through Las Vegas and the rock and roll scene with very little guidance.  I moved to Las Vegas when I was in my late twenties and found myself in over my head!  So here our real life account how fast things can get out of hand when two teenagers hit the road to see a show.

When I get an idea in my head, there is no telling me no.  Especially when I was a teenager.  I was always the social coordinator.  If someone came up with what they thought were valid, concrete reasons against whatever I was campaigning for, I would always figure out away around them.  I’d scrounge for change.  I’d let people say they were staying at my house to get them out for the night.  I’d figure out rides for dozens of people.  I’d always worm my way in.  Back then, there was no such thing as this internet machine that tells us everything instantly, so I used to have to go hound my friendly neighborhood Ticketmaster outlet for details on when my favorite bands were coming.  They’d give me all the information for all the shows in New England.  Bad move, friendly neighborhood Ticketmaster outlet.  Even back then, distance was never an obstacle for me. Too many times there was a map laid out on the floor of the apartment, Julie and I poring over it, determining where our next path of destruction would take us.  It may help in explaining why I’ve already worked in seven states this year.  So anyway, when I found out Metallica was playing in Hartford, it was mandatory for Julie and I to attend.

I managed to secure my mom’s car for the overnight trip, as long as I dropped her off for work in the morning, which happened to be at our high school, a place we didn’t think it was necessary to grace with our presence that day.  This was to happen often, for reasons like watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and sunbathing.  My mother reluctantly agreed, albeit really quickly, and told us, “Fine, just pick up your Memere and bring her back with you.”  Deal.  Julie’s parents thought this was such a good idea they financed the trip.  (side note:  thanks, Julie’s parents, who did not have a pot to piss in.)  They even got us a hotel room in what we thought was the nicest hotel in the city, which we hoped the band was also staying in.  We were golden.  Julie’s sister, Marie, also always full of ideas, both good and bad, was attempting to drive big rigs at the time (not one detail in this story is made up, not even this one), so she helped us map out the most direct route to Connecticut.  Our bags were packed with our best concert finery and our bottle of Captain Morgan tucked securely inside and we were ready to hit the road.  (How we secured said bottle is not relevant.)

Our mapping process did not include locating gas stations, a detail that I am not sure would even have been possible back then.  Though we did roll into a gas station on fumes, literally, the trip went without incident besides.  Until we arrived at the Sheraton Hartford.   We headed to the desk with all the confidence of Ferris, Cameron and Sloane getting a table at Chez Quis.  We might as well told them we were also Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago, because the front desk said no can do to your reservation, little girls.  Somehow, Julie’s mother had got a new credit card in the meantime and the number the hotel had on file was no bueno.  We had to dig for change and find a pay phone to call her long distance to let her know about the problem.  She then called the new number into the hotel and it was game back on.  However, the hotel changed our room one more time, putting us in a room with no plumbing, so then we were changed once again.

There was a mall that connected the hotel to the arena, which we thought was the coolest thing we’d ever seen, so of course we went shopping.  We set off an alarm in one store looking at music magazines.  We needed a mixer for the Captain, so we stopped at the liquor store (yes, there was a liquor store in the mall) and got some pineapple juice.   The clerk proclaimed up “healthy metalheads” and seemed a bit disappointed when we enlightened him on its real purpose.

Our new room was on a floor full of concert goers, so we joined in the pregame festivities.  We had nothing to mix our drinks with so we used our fingers.  Of course, being obvious high school students, we were a bit popular with some of our new neighbors, but of course being much more naive than we would have ever owned up to being, we thought nothing of it.  We prettied ourselves up between cocktails and headed to the show.

Of course, the show was awesome.  Our friendly local Ticketmaster outlet did not do us wrong, we had great seats.  These were the good old days, when the crappiest thing Metallica had released was the Black album, so all the songs they played were epic.

On the way back to the hotel, we either went the wrong way or forgot something we needed, or who knows, but we had to convince security to let us back into the hotel.  The party continued on our floor on a smaller scale.  We were intercepted by the guys we had found before, one of which loved my striped tights, and he kept asking me if I was safe, like an umpire.

Julie and I ordered a pizza and began plotting how we were going to go party with the band.  They had to be in this hotel, right?  Apparently, we guessed wrong, and everyone including the pizza guy told us they would be staying at the JP Morgan. Our new friends had other ideas for us that night for partying, and things were about to get out of hand, quickly.  All 5’1″ of Julie, who they never took as a black belt in karate, kicked them out all in the knick of time.  After we recovered from nearly being violated, we headed out on foot to find the JP Morgan.

A few blocks later we arrived.  Confidently, we headed right for the elevator.  We were so excited that we’d made it and in a matter of mere minutes, we were going to be partying with Metallica.  Julie started jumping up and down.

Note to all readers:  NEVER jump up and down in an elevator.

The elevator sensed panic and trauma and refused to budge.  The doors wouldn’t open, it wouldn’t go up, it wouldn’t go down.  There was another elevator, so no one thought that much of it since there was no inconvenience.  We had no cell phones, so we tried the emergency phone in the elevator, to which we were greeted with “If there’s a fire, fuck it.”  The elevator was located just off the lobby and the clerk couldn’t hear us yelling for help right away.  When they finally realized something was wrong, maintenance was unable to get the doors open and they had to call in an emergency repair person from Massachusetts.  We were in there for hours.  The hotel staff felt terrible for us, and tried to get us food and drink when we were finally free, but we just wanted to get the hell out of there.

They asked us if we were guests of the hotel, which we weren’t, but being young and scared we said we were and gave them room 301.  They comped that room, once we learned we were allegedly staying with someone named Michael Fawcett.  We found this hysterical since we went to high school with a Mike Fawcett.  The hotel must have thought we were hookers.  We apologize, Michael Fawcett, for the confusion we caused, as well as the possible damage to your reputation up to and including your marriage if it went that far…but we do hope you were pleasantly surprised to find out your no doubt uber expensive room was free.

We told the JP Morgan folks we needed air, and we hot footed it back to the Sheraton, where we called it a night.

The next morning, we packed up before headed to pick up Memere, and discovered our party guests the night before had been after more than a roll in the sack.  We were horrified to discover we were missing a tour program and some money.  How could this happen?  We thought we had everything so under control.

Our hotel room included continental breakfast, so armed with our tickets, we headed to the swanky restaurant and ordered everything on the menu that appealed to us.  Why not, it was free, right?!  At the end of the meal, we handed in our tickets and the waitstaff was horrified to have to explain the difference between a continental breakfast and the fifty dollar feast we’d racked up.  We sweetly explained to them that all our money had been stolen the night before and we had no way to pay for this breakfast besides these meaningless coupons.  They actually let us go.

I’m not sure we are ever allowed back at the Sheraton Hartford.

Memere was looking forward to our arrival, and had prepared an appropriately absurdly oversized grandma style lunch spread for us.  We were still stuffed from our breakfast, but Memere was a pretty awesome cook, so we did our best to show our appreciation for her efforts.  Julie was pleased to see she’d cut up a candy bar and had it in the refrigerator for us later.  As we ate and recounted the G rated version of our evening, Memere flipped through our one remaining tour program.  She called the band “Metal-eeeka.” On every page, she expressed her appreciation for James Hetfield.  “Now he is handsome….that’s my kind of guy.” (Note…today would have been Memere’s 99th birthday.)

We cleaned up from lunch, got Memere’s belongings in the Cavalier, and with a responsible adult riding shotgun (and Julie sleeping in the back seat), we made it home without any other incident.

Follow Kristen on Twitter!  @KristenStrassel

Read the synopsis of IMMORTAL DILEMMA  here.

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