The Definition of a Hot Mess

In my First Amendment class in college I distinctly remember reading a court case– Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964)– regarding the issue of obscenity and whether it was protected by the free speech clause. And Justice Potter Stewart, struggling to make sense of the definition of obscenity, said, “But I know it when I see it.” While his fellow justices were less than satisfied with his commentary, this quote took on new significance last night when I attended the Ingrid Michaelson concert at Terminal 5 (which, no, is not in an airport, but a music venue on the West Side).

The Beloved Roommate and I arrived fairly promptly and took our positions in eyeshot of the stage. We patted ourselves on the back for managing to track down such a wonderfully strategic location and basked in the glory of standing room only success. In the moment of said libations, enter HOT MESS, a trashed Long Island native who felt compelled to scream (over and over again) in the thickest accent possible, “Ingrid, get your ass on stage!”

Both the Beloved Roommate and I suspected this girl was bad news bears. But she really sealed the deal when she shoved her way in front of us, entirely obstructing our view of the stage. Aside for her absurdly loud intonation, she was also unapologetically selfish in demeanor. And any hint we offered her fell on deaf ears, or as we soon surmised, drunk ears.

That is to say she was the textbook definition of hot mess, which like obscenity is sometimes hard to articulate in words, but Moses, when you see it, you know it! And her antics only continued throughout the course of the night, with her attempting to sing along to every. single. song., hip shaking during Ingrid’s infamously slow ballads, and grinding during a song whose most notable lyric is, “I’d buy you Rogaine when you start losing all your hair.”

But perhaps the defining feature of her misbehavior was her complete oblivion to the reality of the situation– that everyone within 10 feet of her was judging her, and not in the Paula Abdul on American Idol sense. We were all Simon Cowells, and unabashedly so. Instead of reserving judgment, we all- at various intervals- expressed our disdain for her voice, dance, and tendency to fall over herself and onto nearby concert goers (myself included, on at least three separate occasions).

When the concert came to a delightful close, with Ingrid doing a remarkable cover of Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” the Beloved Roommate and I made a b-line for the exit. Of course the Hot Mess followed, this time singing Avril Lavigne and making me contemplate what would happen if I were to commit a crime while a member of New York law enforcement. Would I be given special treatment, or would I be dealt with more harshly for abusing my power? Without a weapon to wield, I determined to do something much more biting: devote an entire blog post to her absurdities.



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