To whom it may concern:
Last Saturday evening, we arrive at Tipply Hall. The closest on-street parking is half a mile away, and there is no shuttle. Carla doesn’t feel like walking that far, so I pay an inflated $15 to park on the Mafia-controlled lot next door.
We enter the auditorium well before show time, feeling fairly groovy, and find two guys in our assigned seats. I explain to them that they are in our seats, and show them our ticket stubs. The larger of them, who functions as their spokesman, says there’s someone in their seats, too, and everyone is just sitting where they want. Carla and I doubt this, but find empty seats two rows behind us that are nearly as good as the ones I paid $100 apiece for. We go ahead and sit.
A party of two sidles their way along our row, stops at us and looks closely at their ticket stubs. They explain that Carla and I seem to be in their seats. I say there’s someone in ours, too, and they sidle back out. I feel shifty.
The party of two comes back in a few minutes accompanied by an usher, who sidles over to me and asks to see my ticket stubs. I show them, and the usher explains that Carla and I are in the wrong seats. I explain that someone is in ours and point to the seats two rows in front of us, where the two guys are. The usher confidently predicts that she will straighten the matter out and asks us to get up and wait in the aisle. We do so, requiring several couples in our row to stand up or pull their legs in so that we may squeeze by them, as they have had to do repeatedly on account of us. I wonder if these couples are enjoying the workout as much as I am.
Carla and I, standing in the aisle, watch as the usher requests to see the ticket stubs of the two guys in our seats. They show them, and the usher explains that the seats they are sitting in are not theirs. The guy I talked to, the spokesman, now gets very loud. He says he knows these are not their seats, but someone is in the seats that are theirs, and they aren’t moving until their seats are empty and available for them. The usher sighs, very loudly. Carla and I look at each other, shrug our shoulders, and go on waiting in the aisle.
The usher leaves the two guys where they are and disappears for a long time. Carla and I remain in the aisle. When the usher returns, she goes to the correct seats of the two guys who are in our seats, which—as I suspected—are much further from the stage than the ones they now occupy, even farther away than the ones they drove Carla and me to, and persuades the couple in them to give them up. This couple, looking crafty, vanishes, no doubt to poach elsewhere.
The usher returns to the two guys in our seats and tells them their seats are available. They get up, the moral outrage visible on their faces, and pass Carla and me as they slog down the aisle to the row where they should have been all along. If the spokesman guy didn’t tower over me by two feet, I might have said something to him. As Carla and I claim our rightful seats, an announcement comes over the PA that the show is delayed until everyone checks their ticket stubs to be sure they are in their correct seats.
The show begins 20 minutes late. Before the headliner, an opening act who neither Carla nor I have heard of comes out. I’d forgotten there was going to be an opening act. I hate this one from the first note, and so does Carla.
Carla and I decide to go out to the lobby during the horrible opening act and get some drinks. We wait in line at the bar and after a lengthy passage of time pay $5 for a tiny beer for me and $7 for a minuscule white wine for Carla. We are allowed to take these into the auditorium but finish them in the lobby, where we are somewhat out of earshot of the opening act. I could use a refill, but refuse to cough up another $5.
Carla says she wants to get a concert T-shirt, so we get in the line for merchandise. The shirts show a picture of the headliners at their peak, 20 years ago, and cost $35. I don’t have enough money for a shirt, and I ask Carla if I can wear hers sometime. She says she doesn’t see why not. I explain that I’m kidding and she sort of smiles.
We go back in the auditorium and find two young guys, both wearing their hair tinted on top and earrings, in our seats. They are grinning and pumping their fists in the air to a mediocre tune of the opening act who are still going strong. After Carla and I disturb half the people in our row to get to the young men, I challenge their presence in our seats. They ignore me as if I occupied another dimension. Carla and I retreat to the aisle, again requiring people to stand up or pull their legs in so that we can squeeze by them.
I leave Carla standing in the aisle and march to the rear of the auditorium to look for the usher so that she can deal with the two young guys who are now in our seats. I search everywhere, fail to find her or any other usher, and at last return to our seats, where I find Carla in one and mine vacant, and see the two young guys in seats even closer to the stage, still grinning and pumping their fists, their hair and earrings flashing. I sit beside Carla and try to look forward to the headliners, who are due on stage any minute now.
The dreadful opening act, after receiving meager applause, takes an encore. It lasts seven minutes and 29 seconds, by my watch.
Intermission. Carla and I get up to use the restrooms. I have to stand in two inches of toilet overflow, but at least have nearly immediate access to a urinal. Carla has to wait in a long line. I pace outside the ladies’ room as I wait for her, humming a song by the headliners, from whom I have yet to hear a note tonight.
We return to our seats and sit down. At that moment the fabulous headliners come out, and immediately everyone around us springs to their feet so that Carla and I have to stand right back up to see the stage. It’s difficult to see anything up there, though, because all the people in front of us are jumping two feet in the air. As for hearing anything but the crowd screaming, forget it.
Twenty minutes into the set, people have calmed down enough to sit again and are sort of quiet. I begin to enjoy myself just as the drunk guy on my right in the row behind me starts to belt out the once popular song the headliners are doing. He can really bellow. I hear mostly him, and the act hardy at all, and I turn and glare at him. He sees me and, infuriated, shouts out an improbable sexual demand. This I ignore. Then the guy pipes down, at least until a tune comes along that he finds irresistible, but even so he never again matches his original volume.
Two women right behind Carla begin gossiping nonstop, and I turn and request them to please be quiet so we can hear the show. I receive a response of rolled eyes from one, and the other ignores me as if I were asking for money. They continue to talk, but less loudly.
The drunk guy on my right in the row behind me spills beer on my head once, twice, and then three times as he boogies down while standing in front of his seat, marking tempo with the X-large brew in his hand. I turn and deliver upward my by now practiced glare, only to have his more sober male friend, standing beside him, look down and apologize for him. The friend says the guy sloshing beer on me doesn’t have any sense. I say I know, but I wish he would drink his beer and be done. I thank the friend for his concern.
The headliners are pretty good, but stop playing after an hour so that, as the lead singer says, they “can leave in time to get to their Detroit show.” I wonder why the Detroit show seems more important to them than their show here. I figure the band wasn’t on stage much longer than the opening act.
In the parking lot, two guys in an SUV moon us. I can tell Carla is embarrassed, or at least is mentally filing this under “Bad Experiences.” I act casual about it but get no invitation to come in when I drop Carla off. She’s tired, she says. She takes her T-shirt, which smells of beer, and I get a kiss-lite.
And that is why Carla and I have happily agreed to a personal boycott of all upcoming concerts. (Actually I haven’t asked Carla about it yet; I know she wants to see Paul McCartney next month, but I’ll do what I can to talk her out of it.)
Spoofs & Satire
The tickets cost too much, the band didn’t play long enough, somebody keeps stealing my seat, and the drunk guy is annoying me and my girlfriend. A letter to whoever is in charge.
To whom it may concern: