I have been to a great many concerts in my 24 years, but the Howard’s Dilemma show that I saw in assembly sophomore year of high school will forever top them all.
Close your eyes and picture this with me, please.
The lights in the assembly hall dim and then go out completely. The room is dark. Light scuffling can be heard on the stage, but other than the room is silent.
As the lights slowly come up to a foggy grey, one boy stands in the middle of the stage in front of a Yamaha synthesizer with his head bowed. He is wearing all black. He is a quiet boy, a year my senior. He never says anything in class or in the cafeteria. I know nothing about him.
He plays one shrill key on the synthesizer. He holds it down forever. He never takes his eyes off of his audience of 400 students and 40 Quaker teachers. Then he hits the next out of tune note, and says very slowly, “Hhhhowwwwward’s Dilemmmmma.”
Next, another boy who doesn’t even go to our school motors onstage, wearing a Scream mask and a black cloak. The synthesizer-playing boy hits a key and one of those crappy preprogrammed Techno beats blasts into the auditorium.
The cloaked boy moves very slowly and starts talking into a microphone. It actually sounds like he’s eating the microphone. “Howard’s. Howard’s. Howard’s. Dilemma.”
Then the show really began, with a song called “Elephant Man.”
My friends and me were so mesmerized that we bought 5 copies of the tapes they sold after the “show.” We memorized all the lyrics and pumped the songs out of our car windows in the summer. We listened to the tapes in my friend’s smoky room, drooling out of laughter. We were true fans.
Now you can be too. Howard’s. Dilemma.