My day at Rocklahoma (at 14 years old)

September 1980 – Rocklahoma

I really wanted to go to this thing.  And… a boy had asked me  to go. I have to tell you, that was a long time ago.  I don’t remember anything else about this boy other than, I really liked him at the time, and he agreed to take me to see Van Halen at Rocklahoma!

My best friend Angie also had a date for the event and the plan was to hopefully meet up there. We had spent many hours fantasizing about it and talking about it.

Rocklahoma was going to feature Van Halen, Pat Benetar, Sammy Haggar, and last but not least, the Doobie Brothers. It was epic I tell you! Oh yeah it was to be held on the football field of OU stadium.

One day about two weeks before the event,  I am dancing around in my bedroom to the radio. It was probably something like “ rock the boat”. That comes to mind as one of my favorite disco era songs. Anyway, as I am dancing around I get a call and I find out I no longer have a date to the concert.

I don’t really remember his excuse  I’m pretty sure it mostly had to do with the blond new girl Fawn who lived a couple of blocks away. I was very sad and disappointed, but I wasn’t surprised. Life had righted itself, because that was not the thing that an uncool girl like me got to do.

I was moping around later that day in my front yard when Ronny stopped by. He had a huge crush on me. Ronny was in the minority as I was shy, insecure, and terrified of pretty much everything. I wasn’t one of those girls who had bunches of guys chasing after her.

My parents were very smothering and overprotective so we didn’t get out much without them.

My Mother went to work when I was 14 and that allowed me more freedom.

Ronny was not popular with the girls at all.  He was 17, very nice boy. At the same time, I remember him to be always dirty and greasy looking.  He had a very  bad case of acne… and I was just not interested in him in any way other than friendship.  He hung out at my house a lot though, mostly with my Dad in the front yard.  In hindsight I see he put in a lot of time trying to get my attention and I never really saw it back then. And I think now that he was always dirty and greasy because he got to my house as soon as he could after work to try to spend time with me.  I thought he really liked my Dad!

Anyway he noticed something was wrong and I told him I wasn’t going now.  He told me he would be happy to take me. Oh man that was so tempting, but I didn’t want to go on a date with him because I had no interest in him that way. So I tell him, I am willing to go with him (this poor kid putting up with that kind of appreciation, I feel bad now but hey, may as well be honest about it right?) provided he agrees it is only as friends .I can still see the excitement in his eyes when I think back. I found out some time later he spent the entire weekend plus every night working for his Dad to earn those tickets.

Fast forward to the day of the concert… I couldn’t believe it, there was Ronny waiting for me in his Dads work truck. He wasn’t dirty or greasy that day and seemed excited about the concert as well.

We lived in Oklahoma City and if memory serves me right it was probably about a half hour or so from Norman, where the OU stadium is located.

I felt very excited, and very cool.  I was wearing my “Disco Sucks” shirt, which also had my name on the back. It was black and very cool.  I was trying very hard to be cool that day. I was so excited and I didn’t want to let anything ruin it.  So I would remain a closet disco lover.

We got to the stadium, parked and worked our way through the crowd.  I was amazed at how many people where there. I don’t know how many honestly but I knew my chances of running into Angie were slim.  We didn’t have cell phones back then, back in the “old days”.

The set up was mostly on the football field, although there were some bleachers as well.  People were setting up chairs and laying out blankets. What a great idea! I wish I had thought of that! It was warm, sunny, and people were relaxed and looking forward to a good day.

Ronny and I, both uncool kids feeling very cool that day, were both looking around for someone we knew. Very quickly I heard my name from the bleachers. It was someone I knew from around school, but didn’t really know. I guess we all wanted witnesses to the fact we were there. I told Ronny I was going to go say hi.  He didn’t go with me but where I was going was only about 30 foot away. I went over and said my hellos, but since this wasn’t really a friend we quickly ran out of things to say. I left the bleachers and returned to where I thought I had last seen Ronny.  He was no where in sight.

Suddenly I’m not the newly cool kid at a rock concert.  Instead I’m a nervous kid in a  sea of strangers, alone.

Of the millions of faces around me, none where Ronny and none were familiar.  I felt like this is where I had left him only two minutes ago. I was hesitant to leave the area and felt sure he was looking for me as well.

I don’t know how long I stood there. I didn’t know what to do. I was going to have to call my Mom for a ride.  She did NOT like driving on the highway and would have no choice. She was going to be so pissed off. I would be told I was too immature to date and the dating age would revert back to 16. That had been the age I would be allowed to date for as long as I can remember.

Things changed at home once my baby brother was born. I don’t want to call him an accident, so instead I will call him their surprise. I turned 14 when he was 4 months old.

My parents got very focused on the new baby and they lightened up on us, my other brothers and me. I was allowed to date at 14, only upon my parents approval for any date.

I hear a female voice call my name and I turn around.  There is a pretty blond lady, one that I’m sure I’ve never seen before, calling my name and waving me over toward the blanket she and a kid, 13 years old I found out shortly after, had laid out.

She asked me what was going on, so I explained my predicament. Sammy Hagar came on the stage during this conversation.  She said I should hang out with them for a few minutes and wait for Ronny to find me. I didn’t feel so lost sitting with them and I was very thankful. Turns out wearing my disco sucks with my name on the back was a good idea!

I was still feeling pretty uptight and nervous about my situation.  The blond lady, Tammy, explained that this was her first outing with her new step son.  She wanted him to find her cool and she thought this would be a good place to start.  But they didn’t seem to know how to talk to each other. They both ended up talking to me a lot and through that they talked to each other. We were having a really good time and I liked them both.  Everyone including us were on our feet dancing to the music.  It was a great concert!

Tammy was so thankful for how things were going.  She had a cooler and she had made me a sandwich at some point as well as giving me a  soda (or pop, depending on who is reading this). She had been drinking apple juice out of a gallon jug in the cooler.  Tammy handed me a red plastic cup and told me to try it. Turns out it was some kind of wine. I was very new to alcohol but she saw me as cool and I wasn’t about to blow that. She said that if I continued to hang out with them until I found my friends she would share the drink with me. I knew without a doubt I should not be doing that, but it was the beginning of freedom I wasn’t used to and I ended up sharing her drink with her.  I didn’t drink that much but I was totally loosened up and feeling wonderful, exactly the way I thought you were supposed to at a concert. I was having a blast!

After Sammy left the stage I went to the restroom.  On the way back I heard a male voice call my name.  I looked over and saw an “uncool” kid. He never expected me to stop and go over to him because he thought I was a cool kid, he didn’t realize I was an uncool kid in disguise.

So like a dork, happy from a couple glasses of wine I go right over to his blanket thinking he must know me, again forgetting about my name on my shirt.

He kind of shrugs and holds up a lit joint. I have smoked pot probably two times before this point, and drank alcohol once. I figured since I was now in the cool zone, I couldn’t turn this chance down.  I took one hit, then another. It didn’t take much, very good stuff.  Then  I headed back to find my new friends.  Of course the paranoia kicked in, what if I can’t find them. I’m drunk, stoned, alone in a new town…. oh shit!

Then I saw her.  Relief showing in her eyes when she saw I didn’t ditch them. Relief in my eyes that they didn’t disappear like Ronny.

I rejoined my friends as Pat Benetar brought the stage alive.  She was awesome, amazing. We danced and sang and everyone in the audience did the same.

Damn… Mom is going to be so pissed. Ronny, where are you?

A had another of her drinks. Yummy stuff! I could drink it every day!

The energy in the place was palpable. I could feel it and I know everyone else could too… Unless..it’s just me trippin because I had too many of her drinks… do you think I’m trippin? Jeez I hope not..Can you feel it? Man I wish I hadn’t had that last glass!

Then they make the announcement… the one I had dreamed about for a month… Van Halen…on stage and I am here. I get to see them live. I have to tell you, I was star struck because I thought were the most awesome sexy guys alive. Anyway, they come on the stage and I decide I may as well enjoy this, come what may.. so this 13 year old kid starts kind of pushing me closer to the stage on nudge at a time. I look over my shoulder at Tammy but she is sitting on the blanket sipping her drink with a silly smile on her face. When she sees me she waves us forward urging us to try to get closer to the stage. Off we go, one nudge at a time. We get as close as we are going to and enjoy the show. The 13 year old keeps his hands on my waist the entire time as he stands behind me.so he doesn’t lose me in the crowd I suppose…

I am relaxed and it feels good to have his hands on my waist. I don’t want to turn around in this crowd and be surrounded by strangers. As they play their last song, the energy in the crowd still extremely high, I glance over and looking over at me at the exact same time… was my best friend Angie! What a relief, I just can’t express how alone I felt, even though I had Tammy and the kid. She is so happy to see me and gives me a big hug. She had lost track of her boyfriend also. She didn’t care because he was being an asshole as usual.  It was doomed to end and she knew he wouldn’t spend any time being concerned for her well being so she may as well enjoy the show. That’s what she was doing when we found each other.

We decided quickly we needed to try to find Ronny so we would have a ride home.

We were walking around and I heard my name.  It was a couple of wasted looking….but cool to a couple of 14 year olds who were obviously too young to be where they were and make good decisions. He was waving a beer at us trying to get us to come over, and the Doobie Brothers just took the stage.  Angie and I were both having fun and hating that it would end soon after just having found each other. In the end we went over and accepted the beers.

We sat around listening to the great music, but their energy wasn’t at the level of the other musicians and they shouldn’t have been saved for last.  These guys were making moves on us.  They said this party was dying and we should head over to their place for a few.  He said he would make sure we had a ride later.. We said that was a great idea and even though these guys were completely full of themselves, we saw them through our innocent eyes as cool. And they liked us..

They got their stuff packed up and grabbed the coolers and off they went. Angie and I were hot on their heels.  They were in a hurry and never even bothered to look back to see if we were following.  It felt very obvious it was nothing to them if we wanted to go with them or not. My buzzed self suddenly felt very offended about that and just stopped.  Angie stopped with me and watched them disappear in the crowd in about 3 seconds.

It wasn’t that she was annoyed with me, but she felt like I just messed up our ride home. I don’t think those guys would have cared what happened to us.  Anyway, out of no where, there is Ronny, red faced and not talking much.  He thought I had intentionally ditched him right after we got there. I swear I had no intention of doing that but I see why he thought that.  I explained he had disappeared but he said he stayed right where I left him for a long time.  He didn’t believe me.  I didn’t blame him. He sure did know how to kill a good buzz…

Even though the Doobie Brothers had only been on for a short time Ronny said he was leaving and if I wanted a ride I better come now.  He agreed to give Angie a ride home as well.

When he pulled up to my house, I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to tell him I’m sorry and try to explain again, or give him a kiss… in the end I thanked him and got out.

He still stopped by occassionally to visit my Dad when he was playing his banjo outside. Hey, maybe he really did like my Dad!

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