Damn that Chris Carraba

I felt like a pedophile. And the lead singer for Dashboard Confessional was to blame. He was the tattooed Tarzan swinging on the heartstrings of many a high school Jane, yet I was the one who had to deal with the repercussions.

Namely, being stuck in the swarm of half-naked high schoolers bused in from suburbia last Thursday. The City Market was lousy with Johnson County jezebels. But the crowd wasn’t just Lolitas from Lenexa in their homemade “I [heart] Chris” shirts. Both genders waited eagerly to see the Get Up Kids, Thrice and (sigh) Dashboard Confessional.

Aside from the guy with the ponytail and the Cannibal Corpse shirt, it looked like a giant casting call for a Midwestern spin-off of The O.C. (The J.C. ?) had amassed in front of the Steamboat Arabia to listen to the newest trend in emotional rock: boys who do cry.

Nearly as many young men were lining up to buy (eyebrow flutter) Dashboard Confessional shirts as there were young ladies. I figured they were just blissfully unaware of the ass-kicking they would receive in the cafeteria the next day from Butch Armstrong, football hero, for displaying a love of sissy-boy music.

At least there were cars. You know, guy stuff. This was, after all, the Honda Civic tour, and under the Honda tent was a Civic that had been hideously decorated by (swoon) Dashboard Confessional. A bird was emblazoned on the hood; inside, the headrest had been embroidered with “DC.” Apparently, Carraba didn’t have enough time to decorate it with My Little Pony stickers.

Thrice was the first to rev the crowd’s motor, alternating between soul-baring sweet and gut-wrenching sour. If the band were an ’80s movie, it would have been Heathers. Meanwhile, the Get Up Kids were more The Breakfast Club, endearing without Thrice’s whole kill-your-best-friend-with-a-cup-of-Drano kind of skewed.

The crowd took some time to warm up to the Kids, but it wasn’t long before the audience was crowd-surfing to “Campfire Kansas,” singing along to “Mass Pike” and chucking shoes and training bras at the stage during “I’ll Catch You.”

But it was all just foreplay. When the lights went up, Carraba was standing alone onstage, crooning, Now is your moment to shine. That’s when I realized that Mr. Heartache/throb is one tiny dude. Elfin, you might say. Not unlike a heavenly water nymph delivering a transcendent recitation in A Midsummer Night’s Dream … uh … I mean if you’re into that sort of thing.

After hundreds of squeals and a few declarations of “You fucking rock!” the Water Nymph peered out at the tittering masses and apparently caught a glimpse of the Hawaiian shaved-ice stand as he said, “Thank you, guys. I feel like I’m at a carnival. I need some cotton candy.”

Dude, did Chris Carraba just call me a carnie?

Whatever. By now, a corn-fed linebacker was serenading his girlfriend in the line of port-a-potties near the stage.

I begged you not to go/I begged you, I pleaded, Butch Armstrong cooed. Claimed you as my only hope/And watched the floor as you retreated.

Apparently, Butch’s solo wasn’t a shameless ploy for ass. Because after the object of his affection had disappeared into the Johnny-on-the-Spot and was safely out of hearing range, the guy didn’t straighten up, roll his eyes, snort and give one of his buddies an I’m-going-to-get-laid-tonight high five. No, he sang louder after his girlfriend was gone.

These people were fucking crazy. I needed to leave before I started menstruating. Or lactating. Or masturbating. But I would dutifully listen to one more song. Then another. And another.

I began to settle in. The crowd melted around me. And then I heard it.

A distinct voice rising above the ululating of the swaying cast of The J.C. as the band broke into “Rapid Hope Loss.”

You called to say you wanted out/Well, I can’t say I blame you now.

Hold on … I know that voice.

Sometimes you’ve got to fold before you’re found out.

Somebody from work maybe, or perhaps my tanning salon. Whoever it was, he was busted.

Well, thanks for waiting this long to show yourself/’Cause now that I can see you, I don’t think you’re worth a second glance.

Aha! I knew I knew that voice. Er … wait a second.

So much for all the promises you made, they served you well/And now you’re gone and they’re wasted on me.

Yep. It was me.

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