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Carol Perkins: Straight talk

George Stait said his farewell to Kentucky fans at the Yum Center, Friday, March 7, 2014. George Strait. . . How wonderful would it be to have a career doing what you loved for thirty years and fans still enjoying it as much at the end as in the beginning. We should all be so blessed. - CAROL PERKINS.
Next previous column: Carol Perkins comments on the Oscars Posted March 16, 2014

By Carol Perkins

Let's talk a little Straight Talk. George Strait, that is. At the Yum Center last Friday night, to a record breaking crowd, George Strait said farewell to his Kentucky fans with Vince Gill as his "warm up act."

Four of us bought our tickets in September, but even getting them that early we ended up in section 311, row U. That is in spitting distance of the top back wall. The air was dense.

When I stepped on the first of two landings, I laid my head as far back on my neck as I could to look for our section, and then took a deep breath. "You can't make it," my negative self warned.

The other three led the way, one step at a time, while white knuckling the handrail. To have an open hand to hang onto the rail, I stuck my salty pretzel from the concession stand into my purse and clasped the iron rail, laboriously pulling myself up trying not to spill my drink. When the huffing and puffing began, I slid into the nearest open seat and motioned for the girls to keep going without me.

After another attempt, I fell into my seat and found my breath and my pretzel. The arena began to fill and the lights dimmed for Vince. He sang about an hour, and I waited as long as I could before concluding that there was no way to avoid going back down those steps to the bathroom. "Told you that you shouldn't have drunk that drink," Miss Negative smirked. The row of people near me stood so I could get out and then I headed down the mountain.

Step by step in the darkened arena, I put a death grip on the railing and took my time descending, knowing the crowd was watching. I reached the end of the railing thinking I had come to the end of the first landing, but there were steps without a railing so my feet went out from under me and I took the position of a mummy holding on for dear life. I heard the hushed sounds around me, but bound back up as if nothing had happened.

I thought about staying in the bathroom until the lights came on, but didn't want to miss the rest of Vince, so I began my climb. Instead of going back to my seat, however, I took an empty one and stayed there until the person to whom it belonged showed up, so then I went up a few more and found another empty seat where I remained until intermission. My friends were worried, but not enough to make the trip down to find me.

George sang for almost three hours and I'm sure he was great, but the acoustics were so bad at the top that we could not understand a word of the songs or his conversation. I occasionally leaned over and said to my friend, "What did he say?" She didn't know either.

When he walked off the stage for the final time, a wave of sadness swept over me. I knew I would miss making plans with my friends to go to his concerts as we had done for years and years. I would miss his trademark yellow shirt, Wrangler jeans, and black hat. I would also miss his swagger, the tip of his hat to the crowd in thanks, and his smile. The music will go on, but there is something special about concerts.

As I thought about his career I concluded that most stars begin to fade and play in smaller venues and record songs that are never quite like their earlier hits, but that has not happened to George Strait. How wonderful would it be to have a career doing what you loved for thirty years and fans still enjoying it as much at the end as in the beginning. We should all be so blessed. - Carol Perkins

This story was posted on 2014-03-16 12:50:31
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