Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Margaritaville AAR

It would have been nice if I had wasted the last three days in Margaritaville. But alas, I have mostly just been avoiding writing.

We did go to the Jimmy Buffett concert on Saturday night. It was an eye-opening experience. I figured we would show up early and find a nice patch of lawn to hang out on. By my thinking 45 minutes pre-show would be plenty early. With that in mind, Jack and I enjoyed a rather quick drive through the countryside, enjoying the beauty of this state. We had no trouble finding the venue, but as we pulled up the parking lot was overflowing. I have never witnessed such a sea of cars parked in a somewhat organized fashion. It was like a used car lot on steroids, lots and lots of steroids.

As we pulled in we had a good 50 minutes before the show started. By the time we were directed to our parking spot we had 30 minutes to showtime. It took us 15 minutes to walk to the venue gates. But what a walk it was. We enter another universe. Grass skirts, coconut bras, flower shirts, abound. And those were just the men. Bikini tops, leis, and drinks with umbrellas. As we walked I was very self-conscious as to my chosen attire: blue jeans and a red short sleeve blouse, and um, hiking shoes and socks. While I did see a few other people with jeans that went all the way to the ground like mine, we were definitely few and far between. Jack smartly wore shorts. (I don't do shorts.) I bet I was the only person wearing socks, though.

We swam through the crowds and cleared the gate with about five minutes to go before show time. Now we had to climb about 100 steps to reach the grass. Good thing I have been walking the doggies all over the grounds in C-ville and up the 87 steps to Jack's school. After passing the biggest whiner in America ("OMG! These steps are killer! Where is the escalator?!?" the whiner exclaimed repeatedly to his 10-year-old obese daughter who was managing up the steps quite well), we arrived at the top and now a sea of people. The lawn area was filled. And any hope of the possibility of a chair rental quickly left the pavilion. We ventured off to the side to find a restroom only to see that they were located at the bottom of another set of stairs.

And so down we went. Pottied, I turned my attention to the merchandise. All along this journey in C-ville, we have collected souvenirs of the places we've visited. And this Jimmy Buffett experience was no different. I was kinda hoping they would have beach towels, which first of all would fit in perfect with the theme of Jimmy Buffett, but it would also be perfect for me to use by the pool while I am here and would be much more likely to get used in the future than a t-shirt. We were in luck and it was $5 cheaper than any t-shirt. Now we had something to sit on. So back up the steps we went.

While I was standing in line for the towel trying to assure Jack that the coconut-bra'd, grass-skirted drunk guy standing behind me was in fact NOT hitting on me, Mr. Buffett and the Coral Reefers took the stage.

We found a scrap of grass big enough for the two of us off to the side so we could make a quick escape if needed. And we settled in for a bit more of people watching with fun music. Especially since we couldn't see the stage or the huge HUGE screens because everyone was standing, dancing, smoking, drinking, and otherwise cavorting, and we were sitting and watching.

It didn't take too long to really start to focus on the marketing of this all. As we made our way through the parking lot, we passed at least two dozen stretch limos and more luxury SUVs and cars than I recall seeing at a BMW sale lot. Then as I sat looking at a mostly middle-aged, cigar-smoking crowd that probably work as lawyers and accountants in DC during the week, I though about how the simple idea of escaping the day-to-day duldrums was an insane money maker. This wasn't just a concert. It is a whole life style. But one that for the most of us, we can only fully experience when a concert is within reach, and be reminded of any time we turn on our iPod. This Jimmy Buffett, an average musical talent, is a marketing genius! (Now I just need to get me some of that marketing talent.)

After about an hour and a half of observing the marketing marvel, we decided to head out. (We did not know how long the concert was likely to go and definitely did not want to sit in the traffic of the lot for an hour getting out and then driving for 90 minutes.) As we walked down the steps and back toward the parking lot, I overheard a woman telling her date that the evening wasn't just about going to the concert; it was mostly about the tailgating. And that made incredible sense. I bet some of these people had been there all day long drinking and frolicking.

So that was my first Jimmy Buffett experience. And it was fun. But I imagine the real fun would be to come with some parrotheads and make it a day of laughing and pretending we lived in Margaritaville filled with coconut bras and grass skirts and little umbrellas in our drinks. And definitely without socks.