It was the summer of love, 1969, and the Woodstock music festival was taking place in Sullivan County, New York. Little did we know that it would become the premier rock festival of all time, still celebrated today.
I was on summer break from college, and I was working on a golf course in nearby Orange County, New York . All of my friends were going to Woodstock, but I could not go. I would not tell anybody the reason why, because it was too personal. I was suffering from ulcerative colitis, a disease which made it impossible to be far away from a restroom. And I was pretty sure that Woodstock did not have easily accessible bathrooms. So, miserably, I stayed home while all my pals attended the festival.
While watching the Woodstock coverage on TV, I noticed that there was a lot of rain, a lot of mud, a tremendous number of people, and few bathrooms. I quickly realized that my intestinal tract could never have survived two days in the jungle. I felt that I had made a good choice.
After a couple of days, my friends returned home. Without exception, they complained bitterly about everything to do with the festival. Too cold, too wet, too crowded, and from where they were situated, no one could hear the music. I felt pretty happy about hearing this.
Over time, I spoke to other people who had gone to Woodstock. Invariably, they all felt the same way. In particular, the rain and the mud stood out amongst the complaints of those who attended the festival. No one said they had a great time.
But as the years passed, the historic magnitude of Woodstock grew. It became the signature event of the 1960’s, both nationally and globally. And as time passed, those who had attended Woodstock were now singing a different tune.
The same people who were bitching about the rain and the mud were now praising the festival, saying it was the best experience of their lives. The music, which previously they could not even hear, now, under the influence of drugs, moved them in unimaginable ways.
When I confronted them and accused them of being liars and phonies, they insisted that I had not heard them correctly. There was no more talk of rain or mud, no more talk of not being able to hear the music. Everything was rainbows and unicorns. Even previously undisclosed sexual encounters with women now surfaced.
I guess if I had attended the event of a lifetime, I would have done the same thing they did.
So today, if another rock festival pops up, I am going. My intestinal problems have miraculously healed. I will gladly plop my 64 year old body onto a blanket in a meadow and sway to the music. I even might put up with a bit of rain.
And when I come home, I assure you that you will not hear stories about rain and mud. You will, however, hear stories about great music and beautiful women. Whether it is true, you will have to decide.