In the summer of 2007, I was all set to see my first-ever Morrissey show at Madison Square Garden with my first serious boyfriend, Adam. I bought tickets months in advance and marked off the days until the show like a prisoner waiting for freedom, except I don’t know of any jails whose walls are adorned with Matt Groening’s Life in Hell calendars. Devastatingly, the morning that we were set to go, Morrissey canceled the show due to a mysterious throat issue. I know it sounds melodramatic, but I straight-up took to my bed and wept (in what some might say was the manner of a true Morrissey acolyte).
This crushing loss would be more than redressed when Morrissey announced not one, but FIVE successive shows at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom that October. Adam and I immediately dropped $200 each, which was one and a half paychecks from the local library where we both worked, to secure passes for all five nights.
We skipped school and took a bus into the city each day at six AM in order to beat the lines for the general-admission performances. If you think this sounds extreme, you’re not wrong, but it turns out that many others had the same idea—we were in good company each day of the stint. There was a wacky sort of camaraderie that sprung from being introduced to others who shared my passion and joined us in line every morning. There was an Irish family whose patriarch was a shoddy Moz impersonator, by which I mean, he would wear full-on denim outfits (note: this is not a Morrissey thing, or, really, an anyone thing as far as I know) with a thin pompadour and think he looked identical. He had a coltish daughter who, like me, was 16. The one person who managed to beat me to the line every morning was a tough, hulking Latino guy who had a portrait of Moz that stretched over his whole back with the words “VIVA MORRISSEY” in romantic cursive underneath. I became particularly close with one guy, Darren, who catalogued each set list meticulously online after each show and mumbled obscure tour facts through his screwy teeth. I have fond memories of reading aloud with my queued-up compatriots from an English class assignment, Stephen Crane’s Maggie, A Girl of the Streets. I had to finish it that week, so everyone took turns reading segments to one another. One true thing about Morrissey fans is that they love taking stabs at being literary, which worked out well for me here.
About half an hour before the doors opened, the new friendships would temporarily dissolve and people would start jostling each other roughly, clamoring for the best position. Each night, through strategic hip-checks and zig-zagging, I got a front-row spot. Morrissey brought out a competitive streak in me I hadn’t seen before. It extended to each encore, when the people in the front row would hop the rails and try to give Morrissey a hug or a kiss on the cheek. Although it was an ordeal to get up there, once you were, Morrissey would wave to his bodyguard to communicate which people he wanted immediately removed and which were OK to approach him before they were ejected back into the crowd. I held my man’s hand for a moment on the second night, and it felt like the ultimate validation. As Adam and I left the venue, me in happy tears, I picked up a baby-blue T-shirt with a castle emblem on it above the text “Morrissey Boys Club,” which I wore in the same genderfucking spirit of Morrissey himself, who often wore buttons proclaiming the importance of women and lesbian rights during his own teendom. God, no wonder he was my favorite.