i’ve never understood when people leave the game. i mean-i stayed for the worst loss in grizzlies‘ history to the indiana pacers-yup, it was like our own personal reggie miller three-point contest. up close and personal. but leaving has never been an option for me.
as i stood outside the acc tonight with this cough as the rain started to fall-the shots of people leaving the bankers life fieldhouse were in sharp contrast to those of us gathered outside an empty arena, happy as our team came up with the decisive road win. (note to mlse–the spurs let their fans inside to watch the game on the big screen-but we’ll get there).
i was just talking about how i made the choice to see prince the last time-the acc schedule that week was prince back to back and watch the throne back to back. i really should’ve seen both shows, but financially, i had to make a choice.
i was there the first night. the hours of encore night. the night that i judged people for leaving because they said it was “too much”. really?! are you the one the fuck on the stage at 50+ years old playing his heart out? what the fuck are you tired from doing?! sitting there and witnessing music history? get your life, b. that was the night i said, “it’s not over until i hear ‘adore'”. and then he played it.
but every night was an hour of encores for prince. that was his formula. he played and played and then he went to a club and played some damn more. he was so generous. so spontaneous. so playful. so cocky. so. so. so. so.
it’s been so long that people forget. that his first album was not purple rain. that he was not always a media darling. that he stood up to his record label. that he lost a child, and that child’s heartbeat is on the emancipation album. that that album was probably two discs too long. that he started music on the internet. that he was mad at ginuwine for covering his song, but introduced tlc as his “favourite group”. that he played more instruments than most people can name. that he took one look at your expectations of race/gender/class/sexuality and smirked his loudest smirk at it. then he turned on his six inch heels (that brought him to 5’7) and sashayed away. that he did whatever he wanted to, and he inspired all of us to do that to. he inspires us.
i went through a phase where i believed that prince was my mother. they share a birthday, and since i never knew her, he was the perfect substitute. the closest i got to her came in my last year of university, and it was also the year that i was home visiting and found out on the dance floor that prince was coming to town for what i will forever refer to as the “one night stand” tour. i went to ticketmaster that tuesday for the show that was happening on the friday, and that was the beginning of me always buying tickets in person (more than a decade later, i still do this). i dropped $150 on a ticket, which was more than i had (shit, i just spent $65 on my formation ticket two months ago), but he played the orpheum, the small venue where i graduated high school-so not only was in row 13, i technically shared a stage with the purple one. because maceo parker made a surprise appearance at that show, i expected him to show up when maceo played his annual show at legends’. he did not, but i got corey parker‘s attention that night because i was wearing my symbol necklace and scream-singing “baby knows”. i also got an unexpected $1300 tax return that year. coincidence? never.
not leaving the game is a way of showing your appreciation for how hard it was to get in. that getting there is a big deal. that you are there on purpose, and that you are choosing to take a stand. up 30 or down 30-you choose to be present. you’re there for your team. you’ve been there. for when they were so bad that you could roll up on game day and get a ticket for $20. for all those home openers they lost in a row (i’m sure at least one to the pacers). for that triple-overtime loss to the utah jazz that so wasn’t worth it. for that triple-overtime loss to the thunder that so was. for all the times we waxed the floor with the clippers (including rudy gay‘s first game that first year they were on a tear and we beat them by 25). when phife dawg performed the halftime show last year. so it’s extra special now, when we are the best team we’ve ever been and we are having the best season we’ve ever had.
prince would never leave the game. there’s video of him riding back into the staples’ center on his bike, just in case someone was still there. i’m listening to his last encores of his last concert right now. because he expected us to be there. because he’s worth it. because we are.
as the phallic symbols of every major metropolis fittingly glow purple, i have moved into the new day still in disbelief. i know i’m not alone.
sometimes it snows in april.
this time, it purple rained.
may we make you proud, and may your smirk hold us accountable for the rest of our days.
mister rogers nelson, thank you.