April 5, 2009

Ticket to Ride

On this rainy Sunday afternoon Husband and I attended a concert. What is better than live orchestral music? I am always excited to hear the orchestra tune up – all the different sounds seeking their own level. Cacophony at first – and then at baton up --seamless magic!

We picked up our tickets at Will Call where the clerk handed me three pieces of paper, and reminded me that one of them was the receipt. I was reminded that three times in our lives together Husband and I have been “challenged” by admission to an event.

Ten years ago we were going to see a Barry Manilow concert. (I know, I am quite ashamed to admit it, but give me a break, I was a teenager in the 1970s.) I purchased advance tickets and shoved them into my suitcase of a purse. Son still needed a sitter. Before we left him with the babysitter, I kept the two tickets and handed the sitter the receipt which had the venue name, time, and seat numbers in case she needed us.

Except I accidentally gave the babysitter one of the tickets, and kept the receipt and another ticket. Again – and I really don’t understand this now – our intent was for Husband and me to see Barry Manilow together, with each other. I did not intend for Husband to go to the concert with the Babysitter, nor me without Husband. When we arrived, I recklessly grabbed the two pieces of paper out of my luggage and ran them under the nose of the snooty docent. Without two real tickets, she pulled us aside. After some serious sweet-talking, the docent took us to the stadium office to discuss our situation. Eventually we went up to our seats by a circuitous route. Barry is now older, and so am I, and that Weekend in New England jazz just wasn’t there for me and Barry anymore.

About 17 years ago we went to opening day at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Who thinks sitting outside and watching baseball in April is a good idea? (Well, Husband does.) The south side of Chicago was about twenty degrees and windy that day, and we went to Woolworths for sock caps and cheap blankets.

Husband and I held tightly to our own Opening Day tickets and went through the front gate. By the time we were ready to enter the stands, Husband had lost his ticket. Between the front gate and the entrance to the bleachers. About forty yards. He lost his ticket! More sweet-talking, and soon we were eating peanuts and looking like thugs in our dime-store sock caps and blankets. That day we saw Bo Jackson hit a home run on his first at-bat in two years, well worth the cold and the lost ticket.

But these two incidents pale in comparison to our deepest, darkest moments of shame. Early in our marriage we were visiting the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Security – even in the early 1980s – was tight and in order to tour the compound visitors had to be ticketed and travel on shuttle buses to see the Vehicle Assembly Building and the various launch pads. We purchased our tickets and boarded the first in a line of about six identical multi-colored transporters.

After the first stop, we were told to reboard the same bus. But we couldn’t remember which one was ours. So we just picked one. We sat down about half way back and soon the bus was very crowded. The bus driver got on the PA system and, in that mumbled kind of way that bus mics have, “There are two extra passengers on this bus. Will those individuals who are on the wrong bus please disembark immediately?”

Naturally we were so horrified we didn’t say a word and looked around innocently as if to find the guilty culprits.

The bus driver was getting agitated.

The extremely pregnant woman who was standing in front of the bus with her mean-looking husband wasn’t looking too thrilled, either.

We thought she might deliver any minute. But did we identify ourselves and leave? Hell no. We just sat there like smiling lumps.

Soon the tour of America’s Space Coast was over and we hastily made our way to the car, fully expecting as we passed a newspaper box to see our story on the cover of the Orlando Sentinel. Headline in Second Coming type size: “Portly young couple takes seats from very pregnant woman.” Quoth the raven.