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Get in line

January 14th, 2008

Credit where credit is due — my editor Katie Dolac made a pretty good point when we were deciding how to cover last week’s appearance by Hannah Montana costar Mitchel Musso. The real story wasn’t Musso — the real story was all the people who stood in line for hours to meet the star.

That’s a story I can get behind. I’ve stood on my share  of lines to meet people or to do things that others might think was pretty dumb. And, as I’m sure many of the 3,000 plus who came out to meet Musso learned, the real fun isn’t the couple seconds with a disinterested celebrity — it’s the fun getting there. This is going to read super-cheesy, but it’s true: the real fun is the memories you’ll make with your friends in line.

Don’t believe me? Here’s part of an e-mail I got from a reader after the event:

“I honestly went just for fun with mi amigos to see what it was going to be like,” writes Lauren Stuzreim, 17, who lives near Springfield. She didn’t get to meet Musso, but was involved in the melee, trying to snap pictures as he left.

“We had way more fun joking and sneaking around and sitting on furniture than anyone else,” says Stuzreim. “It’s the thought that counts, not the MUSSO.”

So, in that spirit, for every Hannah Montana fan out there, and everyone else who just went along for the ride, here’s a list of my top-five favorite lines. Not the events (some were terrible), but the lines.

5.) 1999 HFStival ticket line, Wheaton Maryland, spring 1999. Certainly not as exciting as camping out for tickets the previous year, for the 1999 concert my friends sat in lawn chairs all night with about 100 other people at a lesser-known Ticketmaster outlet in a Spanish record store. We knew we’d get the tickets, so we spent the whole night reminiscing about high school and looking forward to our various colleges. I also took it upon myself to write my friend Jamie’s valedictory address. He only used a sentence of what I wrote, but it was a good way to pass the night.

4.) “X2: X-Men United,” The Uptown Theater, Washington, D.C., May 2002. I was finishing up my senior year at the University of Maryland. My friends and I were all pretty anxious — anxious about graduating, anxious about finding jobs, and, for me, anxious about moving to Missouri for graduate school. I’ve stood in line outside the Uptown Theater countless times before and after X2, but this stands out in my mind as one of the best, because of the timing of the thing — so close to graduation. I got there first, of course, to get to the front of the line. Over the next few hours, my friends trickled in, to hang out and enjoy a spring morning in D.C., to take up a whole row of seats, watch the X-Men and above all, not worry about graduation.

3.) Ben Folds, Brockport University, Upstate New York, Oct. 2005. I’ve made it a point to get there early for more than a few Folds concerts, in order to get prime real estate on the floor. This one was particularly special, because the fine folks at Brockport had an eating contest to get into the concert early (I think it was Brockport — I went to a Folds concert with the same friend in Upstate New York about 6 months later, and after 15 Folds shows, they kind of run together). My friend Andrea, always up for anything, volunteered — and pounded 15 Vienna sausages faster than two other girls. Other fans had to eat items such as pigs’ feet and Play-Doh. Only problem? The student activities people didn’t clear it with security — so all these college students ate disgusting junk for nothing. A riot almost broke out, with security threatening not to allow these students in. Andrea didn’t care — she just wanted to win a contest.

2.) “Star Wars Episode 1,” The Uptown Theater, Washington, D.C., May 1999. I’ll never forget the thrill as I pushed the gray school doors open, escaping into sunlight and freedom. The only time I ever skipped school was to line up for “Star Wars.” The movie was terrible, but for those who remember the hype in the months leading up to the movie, it was practically a second coming for nerds. My friend Jamie, our high school’s valedictorian, got permission from our principal to skip school for a week, to hang out on Connecticut Avenue and sit in a Darth Maul chair, watching other geeks fight with toy lightsabers and play Star Wars trivia. I was only there for a few hours, but it was certainly more fun to watch than the movie — and my teachers didn’t even notice I was gone.

1.) 1998 HFStival ticket line, various Maryland suburban Ticketmaster outlets, spring 1998. As far as monster rock concerts went, 10 years ago, this was the hottest ticket in town. RFK would sell out in a matter of hours — and if you didn’t camp out for tickets, you were S-O-L. Junior year my parents finally let me camp out for tickets with two of my good friends. It was a night of chasing rumors to “secret” ticket outlets, avoiding cops, being harassed by scalpers and a general sense of competitiveness and camaraderie with every other teenager after the same Holy Grail. The show sold out as my friends and I stood on a long line in the rain, snaking around Lake Forest Mall. We chased one final rumor to Mail Boxes Etc. to a pile of unsold tickets — before collapsing exhausted and happy into our beds.

Staff writer Josh Eiserike can be reached at 703-878-8072 or jeiserike@potomacnews.com.

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