I'll kick things off with a 1980's flashback.
I'd just completed basic and AIT training at Ft. Leonardwood, Missouri several weeks earlier, arrived at my first duty station (Fort Benning, GA) around November. A guy who'd gone through training with me (Otto) was also assigned to the same unit, same platoon. So we're pretty good friends at this point, and we decided to be roommates in the barracks. Otto was a true roughneck... he was from Iron River, Michigan, and I'm guessing that when he left his hometown - the local alcohol sales literally dried up to nothing. The boy sure loved his beer...
But he had something that I didn't have at the time, besides a serious drinking problem. He had a ride. A new Ford pickup, to be exact. On the weekends, wherever he went - I went. Talk about some interesting times! I almost got arrested on a weekend pass down in Destin, FL, because of him basically. But that's another story.
Suffice to say - Otto never let an opportunity to get shitfaced pass him by.
So one weekend we learn that Ted Nugent and Kiss were coming to the Columbus Auditorium. We got tickets, and our entire squad (8-10 guys) decided they wanted to go too. Okay, cool.
Otto sneaks in TWO 6-packs of beer in his overcoat, starts drinking no sooner than we get to our seats. I tell him, "Yo, dude... I don't see anyone else drinking in here. I would at least go buy a fountain soda, go to the bathroom and pour it out, put the beer in it and keep it somewhat out of sight and mind." He tells me, "France, you worry too goddamned much. Enjoy the f**king concert and let me worry about me."
Nugent had opened for Kiss, and his very last song for the evening - Dog Eat Dog - was when it happened. Two uniformed cops swept in, one on each arm, and told him he was under arrest. "WTF! How am I under arrest? Take your goddamned hands off of me!" he said. The older cop said to him, "Son, we have laws here. One of those laws prohibits open container in public, section 4, code 2 (or whatever it was)." So the next thing you know - he's being cuffed, in front of fifteen thousand people, and being escorted out of the stadium. Our seats were damned near front row - everyone is seeing the ruckus, Ted Nugent has this bewildered look on his face as he's watching it go down and trying to continue to belt out the lyrics... "Kamikaze from the 100th floor, swan-dive to the street, he couldn't handle this madness...."
I just stood there dumbfounded, but took a moment no less to appreciate the perfect timing of the lyrics.
The rest of the guys yelled over to me, "Hey, you tried to warn him. He was asking for it." Sorry, but despite that being true - we don't leave a guy hanging like this, I said. One guy yelled back, "tough shit - I'm finishing the concert." The rest of the rat bastards nodded in agreement with him.
Despite his epic stupidity, Otto did do one thing right... he anticipated that he wasn't going to be physically capable of driving home that night, gave me his keys as soon as we walked into the stadium. I left to go bail my buddy out of jail, missing the rest of the show.
So I find an ATM, take out the last $150 that I had to my name, praying that it would be enough. I go to the local jail, they haven't even processed him yet. So I talk to the cop on duty at the station, explained why I was there, and he tells me to have a seat and wait. An hour later, the cop yells over at me - go down the stairs, make a left. You can pick up your buddy there. You'll also have to pay the processing costs, total is $145. He'll have to pay the fine he gets in the mail or else he'll be visiting us again in a few weeks."
So I go down to the holding room, he's sitting in a chair and he's bawling his eyes out. He was still drunk... and he's one of those guys who cries when he gets drunk. "France, I'm so sorry about this. I caused you guys to miss the concert, ruined the evening for everyone, etc." I said to him, "Otto - there ain't no guys. It's just me. The rest of 'em decided they weren't leaving the concert. And to be honest - the thought crossed my mind as well, dumbass. Grab your shit and let's get out of here before they change their minds."
On the way out he went from crying to livid... "You mean to tell me the rest of those muther f**kers never even thought about coming to get me?" I said, "Yeah, that's what I'm telling you. But you know - we tried to tell you. You'd be wise to try to not make anymore waves until the shit clears from this. You're not out of the woods, not by a long shot. The cop on duty told me that they're required to call the commanding officer, so I suspect these douchebag buddies of yours are the least of your worries right now."
So Monday morning rolls around... we're up early for PT, standing out in formation at 5:55 and waiting for Sergeant Bankston, our platoon sergeant. He finally shows up, and he doesn't look none too happy.
"So I hear we had some fun this weekend, boys... lots of fun from the sounds of it. How was that concert, Otto? Did you enjoy yourself? Oh, that's right... you didn't get to see much of it did you." So he then starts screaming about how everyone in the platoon now is a bunch of fuckups, can't obey the law, can't control their drinking, etc. And then he says, "And to make matters worse - only one of you mother f**kers cared enough about your buddy to go get him out of jail. France - you're dismissed. You have the day off, go do whatever."
I wasted no time falling out of formation and made a beeline back up to my room. I slept til noon that day. LOL...
The rest of the boys from the squad, including Otto... they ended up getting extra duty for two weeks, which meant they had to work late every evening, long after the final roll call formation at 1700 hours. Otto would eventually get busted in rank, and spent an additional two weeks scrubbing toilets and mopping floors after hours.
That was my first-ever concert I ever went to, and it sure as hell was memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.
My buddy Otto - two years later he would get a DUI, and he would be discharged out of the military because of his drinking problem. My wife (who I would meet at Fort Benning and would marry 18 months later, which is a story all to itself because she was an officer and I was enlisted, which back then was a major no-no) became our platoon leader several months after that incident, and she was actually the officer who processed his general discharge from the military.
Haven't seen him since 1990, but we send Christmas cards to each other every year. By the sounds of things - he ain't changed a bit.
I think back on those days quite a bit. It was a different life, for sure.