Putting the BFF in BuFFett

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The last time I went to Margaritaville was Jimmy Buffett’s concert circa summer 1995. Of course, attending with my dear friend and partner in crime, Liz, made it one of the elite memories spanning our 30 year friendship. And, thank we’ve had a lot of them! It’s so rare to have a friend that you can move forward in time with, experiencing new adventures together, or back in time, remembering the good ol’ days. They say you can’t relive the past…ya wanna bet?

Once again, Jimmy Buffett was riding his wave into Dallas on June 8th, 2019. The perfect way for Liz and I to celebrate our post 50th birthdays together. Would her yearly Dallas visit coincide with JB’s concert this year? Magically, June 8th was the exact date Liz was flying into town!

This fantastic, coincidental discovery landed on my radar around the beginning of May. Surely the concert was sold out… Surprisingly, it was not! Handicapped seating is usually a different story, since it is so limited. Surprisingly, they were available. I clicked on random seats and most were open. Just for kicks, I clicked on prime seats 1 and 2, section 102; center stage right. Basically, the best wheelchair seating Dos Equis Pavilion provides…also available! It felt like divine intervention leading me to those seats. The stars were aligning and a force greater than me was forcing my finger to press,” Buy Tickets.” So, I did.

My desire to attend overrode my hesitancy. There were a plethora of excuses not to go. I had to go. I needed to push myself. Challenging my body at a new level would be a crucial step in getting my life back. Plus, it had been way too long since I’ve had true fun with my bestie. If not now, when? Not even a zombie apocalypse could stop me. No matter how I was feeling on June 8th, I was going to be singing Margaritaville with a smile on my face. It was party time!

The night of the outdoor concert brought perfectly clear skies with the temperature hovering around 85 degrees. Liz knew something was up before arriving at the house, but couldn’t figure it out. The entire evening was under wraps, until she was greeted with a table of leis and the word ”concert” accidentally squeezed between my lips! She pointed at me and yelled, “Jimmy Buffett!!!” We were both pretty pumped!

After entering gate 8 at Fair Park, my sweet friend, trainer, and (that night) chauffeur, Bob, let us off in the rideshare parking lot on the west side of the concert hall. Like two kids being dropped off on the first day of school, it took a second to get our bearings. Tailgaters lounged everywhere. The only thing I knew for sure was that the tickets were only one way. Once you entered the concert pavilion, there was no returning. It was only 6:30, much too early for that! Armed with our Hawaiian gear, we traversed through a sea of tailgaters from the west to the east side. As we were taking in the sights, a woman, who had definitely been imbibing in a few, jumped in front of us, hands and legs sprawled, screaming,”YOU’VE BEEN LEI’ed!” We knew we were back into the swing of things!

As we made our way toward the east gate entrance, some attendants waved us over to the “Fast Pass” Lane. We hadn’t paid for this upgrade, but it was all coming back to me now. The power of two blondes, a wheelchair, and the ability to get free stuff. The Fast Lane led smack into the VIP T-Mobile lounge. Adorned in tiki, wicker sofas were spread out among three bars. We both ordered Modelo, an imported Mexican beer.

The bartender slammed two beer cans down, each one being about the size of my head. Oh my, I wasn’t prepared to do 24 ounce curls! Liz asked the bartender for a plastic cup, hoping to make things easier. Those plastic cups must have been made of gold since he muttered a response of, ”No.” So, Liz did what any best friend would do. She immediately chugged 12 of the 24 ounces, leaving me free to easily enjoy my first sip of summer. A true BFF!

Immensely enjoying ourselves in the T-Mobile lounge, we realized Jimmy had taken stage and that we had better high-tail it to our seats. Entering the pavilion was a total deja vu via 25 years ago. Scurrying to section 102, seats 1 and 2, we handed the attendant our tickets as we noticed another party occupying our seats. The attendant directed us to less prime, open seats, 7and 8. They were okay, just not as good as seats 1 and 2. No matter, I was having too much fun to cause a commotion. As soon as we settled in, other people were complaining that we were in their seats. A different attendant looked at our tickets, a friendly game of musical wheelchairs took place, and we ecstatically ended up in our proper seats, 1 and 2! Serendipity! It couldn’t get any better. Or could it?

Liz sat to my left. A metal railing, to my right, separated us from the VIP section. About twenty VIP’s were enjoying the luxury of a great view and an attentive waitress, serving them food and drinks. I didn’t think much of it. I was grateful to have reclaimed my seats. After about 30 minutes, the same waitress crossed the barrier and asked us if we wanted anything to eat or drink. We politely declined. The waitress was adamant in her reply when she said, “Look, this never happens. These two guys next to you said to buy you any concession you want. What would you like?” We ordered up, and quickly made friends with the Waidmann brothers, Greg and Scott. Kindred spirits, these parrotheads were true Jimmy Buffett fans emanating a cool beach soul vibe. Their twentieth JB concert, these out of towners knew every word to every song. We might have felt a little slackerish in comparison, but Liz and I enthusiastically sang along with them to the songs we knew, and more enthusiastically, faked the ones we didn’t. It was refreshing to meet such genuine men with generous spirits. Their enthusiastic presence catapulted the evening over the top!

In the end, we failed to relive the past. But, Liz would agree that this time, it was even better! Reminiscing about old times while simultaneously making new memories, it’s clear how God’s hand instrumentally orchestrated every aspect of the  evening – from the coinciding dates, to the perfect seats, to the Fast Lane/T-Mobile lounge, to the Waidmann brothers. This concert was a lot more than just a performance by Jimmy Buffet. It reminded me to be fearless. It reminded me to say, “Yes”, to opportunities, and the surprises that come with them. It makes me so grateful for friends like Liz, whose constant encouragement naturally makes me a better person. It reminds me to trust in what I cannot see, and that God is always working for my greater good. It reminds me to never settle for the path of least resistance, and to keep moving forward with strides of faith.

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