Dear Parrot Heads: Concert etiquette and homework for old duffers

December 2017 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

carl-sampsonTwo events occurred nearly simultaneously this fall. They both got me to thinking.

The first was when I went to a Jimmy Buffett concert. I know, what a cliche. An old duffer (me) going to listen to an older duffer (Jimmy).

I was a bit wary of going at first, because most concerts don’t live up to the anticipation. I went to one a few years ago that was terrible. The singer, who shall remain nameless, acted as though she was bored with the whole thing and only talked about her kids, which made me bored, too.

I seriously considered asking for my money back, except my wife and I left the concert and ran across an Italian festival a few blocks away at Pioneer Square in Portland. The food was great and the music was ten times better than the concert we had left – and it was free. I forgot all about the crappy concert.

When I got to the Jimmy Buffet venue in Eugene two hours before kickoff, the area had been taken over by Parrot Heads. For those who don’t recognize the terminology, a P.H. (Parrot Head) is another word for O.D. (Old Duffer), except he, or she, is drunk and wearing a Hawaiian shirt.

Which is fine. If they’re like me, most O.D.’s have a lot to forget and no taste in fashion, so taking up the P.H. banner is A-OK.

I found most P.H.’s to be pretty harmless, but the folks who were next to me in the arena were, like a lot of O.D.’s, entitled. They stood up the whole show, so no one behind them could see the stage. All they saw was wave after wave of excess flesh undulating under a blue-and-yellow print shirt. I was hit three times by various unidentified body parts. Ugh.

I had assumed that sort of thoughtlessness was confined to Costco parking lots, where an O.D. will block a lane for ten minutes waiting for another O.D. to load his car and vacate the slot.

I guess Jimmy B couldn’t care less who was in the audience, as long as they had forked over the cash to get in and buy one of those $10 margaritas served in the lobby.

The other thing that happened this fall was also a rite of old age. I received an official “Medicare Guidebook” in the mail. At first I thought someone had messed up. I’m way too young for that sort of thing. But the booklet said I need to start doing my homework so I can sign up before I turn 65.

I waded through the booklet, which read like an IQ test. By the time I was done I felt as though Uncle Sam could take Parts A, B, C and D and shove them up his you-know-what.

Over the years, I have developed what I call a “B.S. Meter” to help me know when someone is trying to jerk me around. In this case, it was the federal government, which, it turns out, jerks around more people that anyone or anything else on the planet.

Medicare is one more example of how the feds can mess up the best of ideas – helping old duffers afford medical care.

I read through the booklet a couple of times, and one of my kids asked me what I was doing.

“I’m looking for a discount,” I told him.

“What sort of discount?” he asked.

“For Parrot Heads.”

Carl Sampson is an old duffer. He lives in Stayton.

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