Concert Tales or The Time I Almost Slapped a T-Shirt Vendor

Ray LaMontagne Poster

Click to enlarge

Despite the poster on the left, this is not another fawning all over Ray LaMontagne post. But he is coming to town on Friday and it reminded me of last time he came to town and I almost had to get ugly with a t-shirt vendor.

Let’s get into the Way-Back Machine….It was June 2011 and Ray was performing at Pritzker Pavilion on Chicago’s lakefront. Area residents are familiar with these words being at the end of every weather report, “cooler by the lake,” which it generally is every single day. But for these two days in June there was some weird weather pattern that actually made it hotter by the lakefront. In our suburban enclave it was approximately 734 degrees and by Lake Michigan it was slightly cooler then the surface of the sun. One thing people traveling to Millenium Park and Pritzker Pavilion should know, you are much more likely to find shade from a building then a tree. For a mulit-million dollar park, you would think they would have added some more shade trees. Anyway, it was freaky hot, sunny, and people were a little short tempered and on edge. After finding our seats (which were so close that I am sure Ray wondered why the amazon lady in the white tank top and green skirt kept alternately crying and making goo-goo eyes throughout the whole show), we decided to hit the merchandise tent.

Here’s where things started to go awry.

I walked up and said, “Hi!” to the man working the counter in my bright, sunny Beth kind of way. At this point, I had nothing against him and was my normal cheery self. He was about 50-55 years old and didn’t seem as excited for the concert as I was. I asked if I could please see a certain shirt in a ladies XL. He puts down a t-shirt that was so big that would do in a pinch if I ran out of queen sized bedsheets. Our conversation went like this:

Me: This is a ladies XL?

Him: No. This is men’s 2X.

Me: Um..okay. Can I please see this in a ladies XL?

Exhibit #1 I was going to include a shot of me wearing it and showing it fits perfectly fine. But it lead to an awkward conversation involving my husband asking why I was taking photos of my chest. I found out, “It’s for my blog” is not an acceptable answer.

Him: (looking me up and down, heavy sigh, wheels visibly turning as he slowly picks his words) We’re….out.

I found it a little hard to believe that the completely-empty-of-customers-merchandise tent had a chubby girl stampede minutes after gate opening and they had managed to clean out ALL the ladies XL tees.

Me: Okay….what about the yellow one?

Him: (heavy sigh #2 as he gives me another head to toe) They are very small. 

I swear it came out in slow motion and warped-sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher. It was one of those moments where you think, “No, they couldn’t have possibly said what I think I heard, because that would be the rudest thing ever and who is that much of a jerk?”

Me: Excuse me?

Him: They are very small.

Oh hell no.

Okay, I am a tall girl- 5’11” on a good day and back in the middle of 2011, I was 45ish pounds heavier. Granted, it’s physically impossible for me to be a petite little waif, but I’ve never been fat lady at the circus big either. Plus, we live in the midwest. Seeing an overweight person is not exactly like spotting Bigfoot in the wild. We’re everywhere. Trust me. The Illinois state bird is cheese fries for a reason.


Illinois state flag showing our state bird in action.

This is where the urge to slap rose. I wanted to yell in his face, “Whether this stupid thing fits or not in none of your concern! Your check is the same either way! So button your shirt cause you’re freaking everyone out!” (oh yeah, did I fail to mention he was wearing a short sleeve button down shirt wide open with no undershirt? It was hot, but come on! ) But I didn’t. Instead I decided that shirt could have been an infants XL and I was going to buy it.

Me: (through gritted teeth) Ladies XL, please.

Him: (heavy sigh #3 as he turns around to fish out what was, apparently, the last yellow ladies XL that The Great Chunky Ray LaMontagne Fan Stampede of ’11 didn’t claim)

He slapped it down on the table and spread it out.

Him: See? It’s really small.

What I wanted to say was, “Thank you, but  I already heard you say you were an ass the first time.” But, once again, I didn’t.

Me: (holding it up, smiling the biggest smile and using an incredibly happy tone) IT’S PERFECT!!! Thank you so much for your help!!

I find when you really want to annoy people who are trying to upset you, being incredibly positive and refusing to give in to whatever their problem is, seems to do the trick. I paid and went back to our seats. My husband didn’t hear a word of it because the opening act had already started and he was watching them a few feet away.

Wednesday they announced that Ray has strep and has to reschedule a couple of shows, but should be better for Friday night in Chicago. Let’s hope he feelss better soon. And if he doesn’t, maybe he should take a walk down to the mech table and have a very close, very cough laden, conversation with a certain t-shirt vendor….


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