In a way, it was my first time visiting Boston. I had gone there on a fieldtrip in the fourth grade to see The Boston Aquarium. My memory of the college city was zilch though - too much time past.
When AJ and I were nearing the Copley Plaza exit, off of the Mass Pike, the looming lights from the modest skyrises were towering us like a massive Christmas tree lit just before dusk.
“Wow - I could live here.” AJ said in awe.
“Me, too,” I mumbled, biting my lip absently. City life was definitely for me. I hated living in a town that only existed to the people living in it.
AJ’s mother’s ‘79 beat-up Pontiac Grand Prix choked a suspicious rattle when he turned left onto State Street. We eyed each other with dread, listening to the threatening rumble.
“Don’t worry, this car is a tank. It’s never let me down.”
I knocked on the wooden paneling that framed the radio for good luck, hoping that irrational notion would congeal the car into a mobile state. AJ smirked at my superstitious ploy to keep us from becoming stranded in the unfamiliar city.
Focusing his attention back on the road, however, my gaze remained on AJ. He was largely self-assured for someone his age. Not only did he finagle his mother’s car, drive us to Boston from Shelby - which was an hour and fifty minute drive – he did this without getting lost or crashing the car.
My little daredevil’s driving was impressive too, considering he had only legally been on the road for six months. His experience was much more extensive it seemed, stemming from the fact that his mother had a fear of driving. She had him escort her around since fifteen, regardless of his license-less status.
AJ turned left onto Tremont Street. We were heading into Boston’s theatre district.
And then, the traffic became a standstill. We left two and a half hours early to avoid a dead lock, but there it was: Cars were lined up to get into a parking garage that charged twenty dollars for three hours of parking.
“What a rip-off.” I grumbled.
“At this point,” AJ groaned. “I’ll pay anything to get out of this friggin’ car.”
We were about ten cars deep, moving at a snail’s pace. Groups of people were crowding the street adding to the delay. Almost every person sported an Aerosmith concert T from the band’s previous tours.
After waiting a staggering twenty minutes in the vehicle line up, we finally snatched up a spot on the third level.
The forecasted rain held off. But the sky was heavy with ominous clouds.
AJ and I seemed to be the only ones not wearing pictures of the band on their chest. I chose jeans and a fitted button-down sweater. My hair was tied back in a high ponytail with bangs teased to the side. AJ was wearing his usual signature defiant look – black jeans and t-shirt, sheathed by a charcoal denim jacket. His tousled hair was parted down the middle, completing the mysterious persona.
Turning down Hamilton Place with the rest of the fleeting crowd, the two of us held hands walking behind a trio of scantly clad girls in their early twenties. AJ’s curious eyes hazed over their mini-skirt wrapped, slutty bodies. He then diverted quickly to the theatre before us. I made nothing of his goggling. Instead, I took notice of the looming, old-world building at the foot of this dead-end street.
The sky was darkening, passing twilight. It was just about seven o’clock and the evenings were losing light fast, especially after November hit.
The Orpheum Theatre had ornate artwork chiseled throughout the exterior of the white stone. Small floodlights cascaded the historic building. The architecture resembled that of a combination miniature fairytale castle and cathedral. AJ told me on the drive that the theatre was built in the 1800’s as a music hall.
The outside looked aged, in desperate need of renovations - the paint was dull with spider cracks and chips. The Promenade comprised of broken and buckled concrete.
Above the doors was a large modern-day bulletin-board, back-dropping the black magnetic lettering that revealed the evening’s headliner. That night it read - Aerosmith Nov 7. A simple announcement that was very effective. The personal images that surrounded the notorious rockers from Boston, was enough to conjure all the excitement one needed for that show.
Strolling down the confines of the street, I pulled out my 1970’s instamatic camera that once belonged to my mother - having seen better days I snapped a shot of the theatre and its sign with the relic.
There were three lines of fans waiting to get inside. The doors were still closed. The show wasn’t set to start until eight o’clock.
AJ and I found a spot in the center line and faced each other. I admired his perfect complexion in silence, while he took one of my hands and caressed the surface with his thumb.
“You look really nice tonight, by the way.” AJ was sincere. His eyes darted from my hand to my eyes then back to my hand.
When his hazel gaze rest on me, his face swooned with the elucidation of bedroom eyes – half slit with an ever so slight beckoning smile.
Whether it was premeditated couldn’t be determined by my threatened chastity. He’d given me that seductive look before, stirring up risky emotions.
“Thanks.” My attention diverted back to his. I felt a blush coming on. “Stop it.”
“What?” AJ chuckled with full awareness of exactly what I meant.
“Is it me, or those prostitute-looking chics that initiated that naughty look you just gave me?” I laughed immediately after my compulsory remark.
“What look?” His boyish smile flashed away from me. “Awesome - the doors are finally opening.”
I turned to face the source of his diversion.
The doors to the theatre were in fact breaking their seals. The dividers between me and Steve Tyler were parting ways. Soon I would be in the same building as him. This surreal notion was daunting.
I felt nervous.
My chest was tightening.
Walking closer to the threshold, my legs took on the heaviness of potato sacks – dragging me along. It was like walking in dwarf speed.
The interior of the theatre was equally impressive and just as tattered as the outside. Marble, murals, and intricate carvings along the walls were enough to make me gasp.
“It’s awesome, huh?” AJ whispered in my ear.
I craned my head back to admire the lavish ceiling. The noisy crowd was snuffed out by my bound sense of awe. There was nothing remotely close to this kind of caliber in a ten mile radius of Shelby.
We were ushered up the stairwell by an employee of the theatre then directed to the confines of our balcony seats. The close quarters of the scuffed and stained, red fabric seats posed a slightly uncomfortable atmosphere amongst so many strangers. The crammed setting made me feel claustrophobic.
Fortunately, our seats were in the front row of the balcony section. There were no human obstructions in front of us, only human distractions beside us. I turned in my seat as much as was physically possible within the narrow space, diverting my attention from the annoying female neighbor to my left.
“Are you shitting yourself yet?” AJ yelled over the amplified chatter.
Looking down at the steadily filling seats of the mezzanine and floor sections below, I instantly took heed to the bizarre contrast between the casual rock attire traipsing the Aerosmith fans, with the majestic domed ceiling and marble rotunda that gazed protectively upon the gold archway framing the stage.
The clash of ages was hilariously ironic.
My patience was weaning. I repeatedly eyed my watch. There were only minutes left for Steve Tyler and Joe Perry to exalt me with their presence.
When I heard that the rumor of Joe Perry returning to the band was true, I nearly pissed myself with excitement.
AJ noticed me twitching in my seat over the impending show.
“Relax,” he muffled a laugh. “They’ll be out soon enough. Then I won’t know you for the rest of the night.”
“What do you mean?” I teased.
“Please - you know exactly what I mean. Once your boyfriend appears I’ll be just a memory.” AJ offered a playful rolling of the eyes.
Just then, as if choreographed with the self-destruction of my patience, the curtain to the stage traipsed open and the audience lights dimmed.
The crowd instantly got to their feet and went mad - me and AJ included.
The dark stage gradually flooded with neon pink, blue, and yellow spot lights directed at the stage floor. Within seconds the band ran out charging, each taking their place with haste, jumping immediately into “Sweet Emotion.”
Joe Perry began with the distorted wining sounds of his voice box, purging goose bumps from my skin.
The rumbling of the base flooded the auditorium, and Steve Tyler stood before his trademark, scarf-traipsed microphone.
Without a second thought, or any sense that it was coming, a high pitched scream burst from my throat. I was star-struck. And I had crappy seats.
The exotic, full-lipped rocker - who visited my dreams for more than one spicy romp - was really fucking there, less than a hundred yards from me. Breathing the same air. Under the same elaborate roof.
AJ was right - he no longer existed after the band rushed the stage.
When Aerosmith brought to an end their first song my voice was already horse. I snuck a glance at AJ who was equally dazzled by the lead singer.
“We’re back!” Steve Tyler roared at the audience through his enormous smile. “We got a treat for ya tonight. You are all gonna be in our new video, “Let the Music do the Talking.”
The crowd went bizerk.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – a video?
Jumping hysterically I clutched at AJ’s arm to emphasize my excitement. There would be no way he could hear me, even if I tried to scream over the insanity of the theatre.
My lust filled eyes were locked on that beautiful piece of meat on the stage, who was decked out in a hot-pink and black-striped two-piece spandex ensemble. Steve’s delicious chest was exposed, continuing past his navel.
I didn’t care if AJ saw me drool. There was no shame in me.
The intoxication of Steve Tyler’s energized body, screaming voice, and provocative moves caused me to wobble over the railing in front of me on more than one occasion. AJ was quick to stop me from falling.
The deafening sounds of screaming girls were booming from every inch of the theatre. And I was one of those obnoxious fans.
Amidst all the chaos and insanity, my mind wandered briefly during Joe Perry’s guitar solo. The deep desire of becoming a singer materialized full throttle. My envious stare at the legendary singer, as he leaned against a speaker to admire his guitarist’s talent, only made me want to be him.
It was my first live show, and the intoxication that the audience generated must have created the most intense high for the band.
I wanted to feel that high. I wanted to fertilize the air for my fans.
My daydream had been redirected to Steve Tyler as his attention returned to the microphone. I stood captivated – completely immobile. The lust that I had for him conflicted with my wish to be him. I considered the convoluted symmetry: Imagining myself on stage, gripping the microphone, pouring my soul out to the crowd, all while I fed off of their life force. They loved me. Worshipped me. I gave them my music, and they gave me their devotion in return. To be loved but revered from a distance was the ideal relationship. Steve Tyler was living my dream. It wasn’t lust that actually drew me to him. Rather the desperation of knowing in my heart that what the singer represented on that stage was more than just jealousy or even a vain fantasy. That intense emotion was instead the unequivocal longing to live the life of music - the dream to possess that power of captivating people with my voice.
That night in the Orpheum was an unprecedented epiphany for me. There was no doubt in what I wanted to become.
AJ noticed the stoic direction that my face had taken.
“You okay?” he shouted from his seat. “You look catatonic.”
Realizing that I had in fact tripped into a trance with thoughts of my rock ‘n roll make-believe, I quickly turned to him. Feeling silly that he noticed, I leaned over to kiss him.
Aerosmith continued to sing their new stuff as well as their classics. The night was complete when the band rocked out my favorite song of theirs, “Last Child.”
By the time the finale came my voice was shot. Adrenalin spent.
It was singlehandedly the most impacting moment of my life - in so many underlying ways.