“The best I ever saw? Well, that’s an easy one.”
“Okay, what is it?”
“Well, I was at Woodstock.”
“All right. End of discussion. You win. There’s no way I can beat that.”
“You can try.”
“The best I got is I did see the Beatles at Shea Stadium. I thought that would have been the topper but you got me beat fair and square.”
“You dudes left me in the dirt,” another guy said. “I was gonna say I saw Janis at the Fillmore. I thought that was pretty cool.”
“It is. I saw her with the Who and Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival.”
“No way. I saw Hendrix with the Allman Brothers.”
Standing in the will call line, listening to these guys one-up each other with their gig credentials, I was quickly put in my place. I hadn’t attended any of those concerts. And though my rock-and-roll chops were decent, I knew I was out of my league. That wasn’t surprising given where I was, but it still made me feel like someone’s younger brother.
“I saw the Allman Brothers in ’70 or ’71 at the Whisky a Go Go.”
“Whoa. That’s heavy. The Whisky. I saw the Doors there years ago.”
“Wow. The Doors. Very trippy. I saw them in Asbury Park. My good friend broke up with his girlfriend and I got to go with him. They blew my mind.”
“I saw them at the Avalon Ballroom. I’d never seen anyone like Morrison before. I almost lost my girlfriend that night.”
I could understand that. Jim Morrison had been a captivating performer.
I wanted to join the conversation but the closest dot I could connect was having seen Bruce Springsteen at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Before I could get up the nerve to speak, they’d moved on to other acts and venues.
I’ll take music acts and venues for $20, Alex, I thought about saying, but wasn’t sure that was the best entry either. Truth was, I was a bit of an outsider here. While I was looking forward to the weekend of music, I wasn’t really here to listen to it. I had another purpose. A client wanted me to help him out if he got into difficulties—a purpose that was both familiar and unfamiliar to me. I’m a shrink after all, and my job is to help people navigate the difficulties they encounter. I see clients in my office, their home, or anywhere they want. When my client asked me if I’d come to the festival and help him out, it took me a couple of nanoseconds to say, Sure. If I could go to the festival and get paid, why not?
We never fully know what we’re getting into until we get into it. But we usually have a good sense of what to expect. I assumed my client might find himself in some conflicts and want me to facilitate. He might need me to keep an eye on his substance intake. Or he might want to speak with me about life as he was living it.
Some of that happened.