What I’m about to tell you is going to seem unreal. Most of you won’t believe it. Most of you won’t care. However, for the six of us that took part in it, it will be an experience that we’ll never forget.
Since it was a roller coaster of a ride let’s see if I can write this as if we’re on a roller coaster!
Our plan is to meet at my folk’s house at 3:30 for the Boyz II Men, En Vogue, Salt-n-Pepa concert at the Tulalip Casino Amphitheatre. By 3:50, we’ve all arrived and at a little past 4 pm, we’re on the road. This will be our first ride up the roller coaster. We’re all excited. We’re blasting the “Concert Mix”. We’re having a great time before the roller coaster begins to dip.
The minivan sputters before shutting off. I tell my Mom that the van died. She thinks I’m messing with her. I pull over on the side of the highway. We’re all confused. I ask Brother No. 1 to take a look since he is the one Johnson boy that can work his way through an engine. We attempt to start it but have no luck. Mom contacts Dad. He’ll come out and see what the issue is. We don’t have time to “figure it out”. I’m insured with Nationwide and have the PLUS Roadside Assistance, meaning I pay $20 for 6 months for two vehicles for towing (up to 100 miles), flat repair, lockouts and more. Yes, I’m plugging my company! I’m an insurance agent darnit!
My plan is for us to take my Mom’s Yukon and for my Dad, Maddux and Koby to take the tow truck and my minivan back to my folk’s house. Brother No. 1 suggests us trying it one more time. I finally breakdown (no pun intended) and allow him. Brother No. 2 turns the key, Brother No. 1 pushes the throttle and the van starts just as Dad pulls in behind us. We decide to pull off the next ramp and switch vehicles. It’s now 5:20 and we’re back on the road!
We make a few Boyz II Men references like:
We’re so clever!
We’re excited! We’re back! We’re making great time! Our goal was for an early dinner at Applebee’s before heading to the concert. Well we’re going to have to push it (no Salt-N-Pepa reference intended) but it’s 5:40 and the concert doesn’t start until 7pm.
The roller coaster begins its descent up again!
We have a fun dinner and finish with 15 minutes until concert time.
And then the roller coaster makes a steep decline!
As I walk towards the car, I reach into my pocket for the tickets. I make a nervous reference about hoping I snagged the tickets. I look in the Yukon and they are nowhere to be found. We tear the SUV apart like raccoons attacking a trash (sorry, first thing I could think of). Mom calls Dad and asks him to check the van for the tickets. He calls back. Not there! Brother No. 2 quizzes the Applebee’s gal. Not there, though he’s suspicious.
Dad asks me if I’m messing with my Mom. Geez … am I really the Boy Who Cried Wolf? I’m not messing with her! Seriously!
I start to feel sick. I don’t know if I should cry or scream. Back in the day (say, like 1994) I haven’t been so good at keeping my composure. After back-to-back worst-case scenarios I think I’m doing pretty great other than feeling like a knife is digging into my chest!
We’ve looked over and under the Yukon. I think back … I remember them being on the center console of the minivan. I remember joking to Brother No. 2 that it’d suck if we left them in the van. I remember grabbing them and putting them in my left pocket. I remember putting them in the center console of the Yukon, as I don’t like things in the front pockets of my “tight” jeans. But now I’m losing it! Was I getting my center consoles mixed up? Did I put them in my pocket after leaving my office and not the van? Could they have some how gotten stuck on my cell phone when I pulled it out to call the tow truck back and tell them we didn’t need them?
Mom remembers me saying I didn’t like putting things in my front pocket. My sister-in-law, who was sitting directly behind the center console, says she remembers seeing them on the console of the Yukon. I feel like I’m being Gaslite. Is that even a word? I’m getting it from Gaslight.
We decide that we’ll go to the concert and see if we can reprint our tickets. My buddy Dan, who works for the Casino texts and asks where I am. I break the disheartening news. By now, our heads hang low. We’re dejected, confused, frustrated. Luckily the other five have been supportive of me though I know deep down inside they wanted to take me to the Wal-Mart parking lot and run me over a few times with the Yukon.
We walk up to the ticket line and a gal behind us tells us that they can reprint the tickets – a glimpse of hope? – if you have the card you used. I paid cold hard cash! Lesson learned!
I explain to the lady behind the desk what happened and she does a polite, “You’re F**ked!” impersonation of the Marathon rent-a-car employee on “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” (Thanks Lis for the reference)
Our heads are now dragging. We weigh our options. We can a) drive back to Snohomish and the side of the road to find the tickets; b) sit on the grassy knoll in the parking lot of the outlet mall listening to the concert and then after the concert at least go dancing in the nightclub with our would-be fellow concertgoers or c) find something completely different to do that would get our minds off of what just happened, like hard drugs.
As I walk to the Yukon I say a silent prayer, “Dear God … I love your humor, honestly I do but can you please have them sitting on the front seat of the car?”
They aren’t there!
We decide to drive back to Snohomish and look for the tickets. I was so confused! I know I took them! I know I put them in here! We talked about the crazy journey just to get here.
The van breaks down for the first time EVER! As Brother No. 2 said, “Kevin doesn’t do this.” I don’t just lose tickets! There’s a reason I kept them all together for two months! I felt horrible! I felt dejected!
And then Mom, in only a way Mom can do, says pointing her right index finger to the sky, “You know…there is one place they may have fallen. Sometimes thing fall in this crack on the console.”
This crack she refers to is about ½ an inch long. The chances of something like an envelope full of concert tickets sliding off the console, bouncing off the lid of the cup holder and then sliding down into this crack is … well, let’s just say I wouldn’t play those odds.
We all pause … a deathly quiet before the storm.
Shaking, dreaming, hoping, praying I pull the cup holders out and peek underneath the console. The faithful five sat in silence like Oscar nominees waiting and hoping to hear their name pulled out of the envelope.
There, glowing like a ray of light shining upon them was the envelope.
I snagged them and then began to scream like my Dad in our Johnson Family Lake Powell inner tube video.
The Yukon erupted!
“We found the tickets! We found the tickets! We found the flippin’ tickets!” I repeated that about 10-15 times using words that a Christian fella like myself should not use! (Though I also said “Oh my God! Oh my God! Thank YOU! Thank YOU!”)
If we could’ve we would’ve hugged each other and danced in circles, instead we had to settle for hi-fives. Tears streamed from Mother’s eyes as she got off one exit and headed back onto the Interstate.
Elated we jumped out of the Yukon! A jogger walked by – wait that doesn’t really make her a jogger does it? – and I told her, “We found our tickets!” She didn’t care. I didn’t care that she didn’t care.
I texted Dan to let him know. We turned the corner toward the concert and the line that was halfway through the parking lot was now gone. We had missed 20 minutes of Salt-n-Pepa’s set but we got there before they started playing their hits! It was, dare I say, perfect timing!
Still overcome with emotion I noticed a sign that said $25 for VIP passes to meet Boyz II Men. Twenty-five dollars! I’m down. We threw our money down. I mumble-jumbled to the dude about our situation, turned and saw Dan and gave him a big hug. Awkward? Maybe but he understands my love for the Boyz and had been following our “adventure” via text messages.
After bumping some people from our seats – nice try folks! – we settled in to the concert.
Boyz II Men singing “A Song for Mama”, which caused more tears from Mom as she was able to sway to one of her favorite tunes with her three boys alongside her.
Pictured above: Me and My Mama pre-Boyz II Men! The concert was my birthday present to my Mom!
The utter joy on all of our faces as we sang and danced to each song. I was impressed with how well Brother No. 2 remembered the lyrics, though we did spend a few years lip-syncing songs like “4 Seasons of Loneliness”.
Two girls in front of us were surprised with how well we knew the Boyz’s catalog that after I called out the name of one of the CDs that me and about 76 other people bought she declared, “OK … you win! I can’t compete with you. You’re their No. 1 fan.” In which I leaned in and admitted, “I’m going to let you into my world and cross a line. I actually bought a Boyz II Men bear when they came out.” Afterwards the girls thanked us all for making their concert experience fun. Even when we don’t mean to we’re making others have fun! It’s the Johnson way!
After the concert, we waited in line to meet the Boyz. This might sound silly but it’s always been on my “99 Things to Do Before I Die”. To meet Boyz II Men. Now I had the chance what was I going to say?
What did I say? Well first, I hugged all three of them. Wayna said, “My man!” as we did a little hug/handshake combo. I told them about my “99 Things” they seemed disinterested and I took my picture. Meanwhile Mom had to thank them for singing her song and that we are her three boys. Brother No. 2 stood in front of Mom and Shawn (Stockman) said, “Hey, you’re blocking Mama. Get Mama in here.” We took our group picture and I turned to Shawn and said, “Thank you for the memories.” Crap! I wanted to say, “Thank you for making the soundtrack of my life.” Ahh…like he remembers what I said today anyway.
Once again, we were elated! We had our autographed Boyz II Men lanyards and our pictures of Boyz II Men and us! By the way, they’re as nice as they seem!
We headed to the dance club at the Tulalip Casino. The uptight lady up front checked our IDs as Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It” played from inside. Brother No. 2 was first and … DENIED! His ID had expired on his birthday four days prior. Didn’t matter that he was 21 plus 10 she wasn’t going to let him in. We made a few attempts at letting her loosen up but she wasn’t going to. We grumbled and groaned before we realized it didn’t matter. We were all exhausted from the emotions we had been through: Excitement to be headed to the concert. Frustration as we sat on the side of the road. Relief as we headed to dinner. Disappointment and confusion as we couldn’t find the tickets before joy beyond any explanation of words after finding the tickets. Getting autographs, to talk to the Boyz, to get pictures with the Boyz, it was all just icing on the cake.
Now, you’re asking me what’s the big deal about Boyz II Men. Why do I love some group like this? And the answer is love. Like Wanya (Morris) said during the concert. Their music brings people together. No matter what age, sex, color or whatever you are, the music is about the one feeling that we ALL share and that’s love. We all experience love of some sort and they just happen to be really good at singing about it.
There’s a verse in 1 Corinthians 13 that pretty much sums up our night. Verse 13 says, “There are three things that endure – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.”
We had faith. We had hope but most of all we had love!
I made the comment to my brother today as we both agreed that yesterday was one of the better night’s we’ve ever experienced. I don’t think it would’ve been as epic if we didn’t experience the emotion that we experienced yesterday. If it would’ve gone perfect, we would’ve focused more on the dance club rejection. If we would’ve listened on the grassy knoll and followed that with a dance club rejection then … I don’t even want to think about it. It’s safe to say my summer may have been ruined. The only thing I really looked forward to when the family is gone and … but instead, it actually was perfect.
Told you all you wouldn’t understand!