It was 1972.    I was 16 and I loved outlaw country music.  My vinyl collection boasted music by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson.  Not many of my high school peers shared my taste in music, but my best friend, Dusty, who I’d known since we were 11, was as crazy about it as me, which is just one of the reasons we were best friends. 

The day we learned Kris Kristofferson was going to be in concert, we begged our parents for permission to go, collected our saved up our allowance and babysitting money to buy the tickets and waited impatiently for THE night to arrive. 

The concert venue was downtown and I was nervous about driving in unknown territory.  Dusty assured me that with her riding shotgun, we’d be fine.  That night we climbed into my 1966 VW Bug and traversed the puzzle of one-way streets to the concert hall.

We sat on the edge of our seats in the balcony and dramatically sighed, when, at last, Kris Kristofferson sauntered on stage, dressed in a pale blue wrinkled shirt, sleeves rolled up, faded jeans, worn boots and his guitar slung over his shoulder.  We were in ‘teenage-girl-with-a-crush-heaven’ when he began singing.  We knew every word to every song and were disappointed when he left the stage after his final song.  We hoped we could score an autograph and pushed our way out of the venue to the street and around the corner, hoping for even a glimpse of our beloved star. 

We giggled and looked around, surprised that we were the only two waiting outside the side door.  We stood in the glow of a streetlight, otherwise draped in darkness.  Suddenly, the door opened and three men emerged, each carrying a guitar case, laughing and mid-conversation.  They stopped abruptly when they saw us. 

Even in the dim light, we immediately recognized Kris Kristofferson.  He smiled at us and I felt my knees shaking and I suddenly couldn’t even remember my name.  I could not believe I was standing next to Kris Kristofferson.  He was so close to us, I could smell him.  He smelled like whiskey.

Dusty and I were so star-struck that we could hardly find the words to speak, but I remember finally gushing about how much I loved the concert, and then asked for an autograph.  He scratched his head and drawled, “Well, this is the first time anyone asked me for my autograph.  I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.”   I was in disbelief but dug into my purse and pulled out a scrap of paper—which happened to be the receipt from the concert ticket purchase. He took it from me, our fingers touching briefly (I was never washing that hand again), signed his name (I was staring at his face) and handed it back to me. I could not stop smiling and giggling.

Then, he grinned again and queried, “Do you girls want to party?  We’re going to a party.” 

I remember freezing in place, blushing and then panic hit me.  I stammered and muttered something about our curfew and thanked him for the autograph.  We raced back to the Bug, slid in, slammed and simultaneously locked the doors.  My hands were still shaking as I turned the key in the ignition and drove away.  Neither one of us had said a word.  I was still waiting for my heartbeat to slow down.  Dusty, in her usual style, and too loud voice, blurted out, “THAT was crazy!”  I laughed hysterically and we both started singing ‘Me and Bobby Mc Gee’.

I’ve never been to another Kris Kristofferson concert but I still have his autograph on that faded receipt and wonder if it really was the first one he’d ever signed.


Tonia Hurst said...

Beth, love it. So vivid and well written. Felt like I was right there with you.

Shrink Mom said...

When no one else was at the side door, I just figured you were at the wrong door. Incredible that you met him! Fun story to read.