I almost always prefer the anticipation leading up to an event more than the event itself.
Last weekend, for example, I went to that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert rally in D.C. They’re both funny, it was an interesting concept and I had nothing better to do. Plus, I heard Oprah was going to be there.
Getting into the city and parking was easier than expected. Walking over to the Mall, we were excited and curious about what was actually going to happen at the rally. We started texting our friends who were already there and discussing the quickest way to get to them.
After thirty minutes, I was pushing my way through a sea of people, all inexplicably walking in different directions, trying to figure out where the stage was even located. Everyone’s signs were a lot less funny than they thought they were, there was no cell phone reception and I’m still not sure where I was in relation to the stage.
A thought that seems to pop into my head more and more often manifested itself once again: I’ve made a huge mistake.
Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident.
This happens most often with concerts. I see that an artist I like is touring, convince some friends to come along, look forward to it for weeks, and then stand in the crowd for hours listening to openers I have no interest in and being surrounded by sweaty strangers until the headliner plays their set.
The music is usually great and seeing it performed live is something I’m continuously able to convince myself is a necessary experience, but there’s always a part of me wondering why I’m not at home sleeping or hanging out with friends.
I have the Internet. Why do I need to be awkwardly avoiding physical contact with strangers while listening to music I could easily download?
The more I look forward to something, the less fun I end up having; the higher the expectations, the bigger the let down.
It’s probably because I’m so optimistic.
Or maybe I’m just stupid.
I keep convincing myself to participate in these things because, against all odds, I expect them to be better than the last time.
Obviously if I wasn’t enjoying myself on some level, I’d have stopped going to concerts a while ago. However, I always like the idea of going, and the memory of having been, a lot better than I actually like being there.
I don’t think I will ever stop going back, though. What’s that expression; you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take? I don’t know. I quit playing basketball in high school, but that still seems like a good way to look at things.
Hell, even after my underwhelming Bonnaroo experience a few years ago, I’m still open to going again (if they can book bands that don’t suck), and I’m totally going to Burning Man next summer, even though it will likely be significantly more terrible than Bonnaroo could ever hope to be.
The ideas of these things are so appealing that I forget about how much work goes into making them fun.
I equate planning and effort with a good time, when, in reality, the harder I have to try to have fun, the less enjoyable it becomes. Even if I had an okay time, the pay-off was never worth the effort I exerted.
Fun just shouldn’t require work.
The best times I’ve ever had were the unexpected ones. I love having plans and going out with my friends, but it’s consistently been the nights when there was nothing actually going on that have stuck with me.
Sure, the giant party with a funny theme that everyone gets super into can provide great pictures, but it’s the night that starts off with 11 people bored, drinking in someone’s living room and ends the next morning with trying to figure out who s— in your housemate’s bedroom that remains with you way longer than a Facebook album ever could.