Phoenix, Arizona, summer 2002. It was 126°Fahrenheit and the hottest day of the year. I couldn’t help feeling that part of me was going to catch fire. I was part of a local crew setting up the outer lawn stage for the nights Aerosmith show. It was so hot that one crewmember had been assigned to ensure that we all consumed enough water and electrolyte pills to prevent us withering from dehydration. The water bearer carried a checklist that we would sign each time we drank our designated liter per hour. I remember thinking how strange it was that I could consume so much liquid and yet never feel the need to urinate. Exposed to this intensity of heat the water evaporates through your pores so efficiently that there’s nothing left for your kidney and bladder to process. The liquid dissipates so quickly that you don’t even realize you are sweating. Yet, in this utter lack of humidity there was one part of my body that never seemed to dry. I was actually beginning to walk bull legged from the chaffing below and decided to jettison my boxers into the nearest trashcan.
This would be the start of my downward spiral.
I had insider knowledge that after the band played “Mama Kin” they would move on to the outer stage. At that point I positioned myself in front of the stage right monitor so I could see Joe Perry’s fingers tearing up the fretboard. I was in guitar geek utopia when, midway through “Walk This Way”, I began to smell something burning. I looked around to discover the source. To my horror I realized that the guy next to me was holding a burning cigarette and had unwittingly set my shorts ablaze. I started to remove the flaming shorts but had to stop once I remembered that I had nothing on underneath. I really didn’t want to be the guy that got arrested for nudity at the Aerosmith concert. And so I did what any self-respecting Steven Tyler wannabe would do. I snatched the beer from my closest neighbor and sloshed it down my leg to extinguish the flames.
I will forever keep those shorts.