Just like Heaven (part I: the TicketMaster® trials)

I recently celebrated my birthday (33rd, if you must know). I’m happy to report that this one qualified as “best birthday evah!”

Part of the story behind it involves not getting tickets to the Cure concert when they were in town. The first I heard of their tour was last year, when the Washington Post Express newspaper advertised that they would be playing in September. Should I go? I asked myself. Nah. I had seen them in concert as a lively teen, in the heyday of my Cure love, so it wasn’t such a huge deal. Every day I saw the ad for the tickets, I convinced myself it wasn’t worth the trouble of going. That would mean getting a babysitter and getting off work in time to make the show and so on. Life was considerably more complicated when you were an adult. You have to plan everything and that’s not fun. Sometimes planning ends up being such a hassle that you don’t even make the effort. As a teen, there was no question whether I’d go or not. I got the tickets, lived the days up to the show in anticipation of the event, and then went, screamed, danced, sweated and returned home with ringing ears and a grinning mouth.

One morning, I opened the paper and saw that the show had been canceled. Good thing I didn’t bother with tickets, I thought, while also wondering what happened. Then, a few months later, there was a new ad. The show was set for May 9th in Virginia. “Tickets from September date will be honored!” said a blurb. This was a new opportunity that stuck to the back of my mind. I didn’t buy their last album and I hated “Bloodflowers,” I thought, why would I possibly go? Also, who would go with me? My husband? Not a fan. In fact no one else I knew was a fan and the thought of going alone sounded kind of, well, not fun.

As the May date drew nearer, I tried to think of solutions. Even though I had talked myself out of buying a ticket, I wanted to go. I have over 200 Cure songs on my ipod. I had most of their albums, even the early ones, back when Robert Smith sang the words clearly and it sounded like they were playing inside of someone’s basement. I had bought some of these albums multiple times, first on cassette, then CD and then, when new, digitally remastered versions came out on itunes, I bought those too. I was a true fan. Even if I didn’t buy the last album, I thought, I had every right to go to the show.

Early in the week, I threw out the bait.

“Would you want to go to a concert with me?” I asked my husband.

"Sure...who's playing?”

“The Cure?”

The face he made told me the answer was no. This was no surprise; we've already established that he wasn’t, isn't and probably will never be, a fan. He disliked any music that involved whining (anything sung by Ginuwine is an exception), wailing or too much treble and not enough bass. He likes rock and loves Lenny Kravitz, but once you stray from the upbeat, he walks away.

“Never mind,” I said. To be fair, I didn’t tell him they were playing at the end of the week and that I was not asking a theoretical question. Only after the local show date came and went did he realize my question had been real.

“Why didn’t you tell me you wanted to go?”

“You said you didn’t want to go. Why would I subject you to that if you don’t want to go?”

“I would’ve gone if you asked.”

“I did ask. And you said no.”

Everyone who emphasizes the importance of communication in a relationship should also add that the communication should be direct. In other words, don’t be like me.

I went online and checked out the remaining tour dates. There was a show on my birthday in New York. It was a four hour drive, but we could make a trip out of it, dropping the dog and the kid off at my mom’s on the way. It could happen.

“There’s a show in New York…on my birthday.” I called to my husband, who was working in the loft.

“Hm,” came the disinterested response.

“Never mind.”

Another month passed and the thought of the concert stayed in the back of my mind. You don’t even know their new stuff, I told myself. The first concert I went to was, well, okay. I was right up front and there was no seating. It was a hot summer day in San Jose and by the time the opening act finally finished, much of the crowd smelled like beer and sweat. Then, when the Cure hit the stage, there was a crushing push from behind as everyone rushed forward. I savored my spot up front, just a few feet away from the beloved Mr. Smith, but after awhile I grew claustrophobic, so I retreated to the bleachers and watched the rest of the show from the sidelines. What if this was a repeat of the show from the Wish tour? If it was, then I was too old for that shit.

I changed my mind after reading a message posted by a person on a message board (Naturallycurly.com, if you must know). The message was along the lines of, “I went to the best concert. I got to see the Cure and…”

Well, you get the point. If that was all it took to convince me to go, then the truth is, I wanted to go all along, since nearly a year earlier, when I first saw the ad in the newspaper displaying the ill-fated September dates.

My birthday was coming up, and my husband asked if I wanted his parents to meet us for dinner. That was nice, and they are always very giving and good about celebrating special occasions, but we did that every year. With a sigh, I said, “Sure” and thought, "not really."

The next day I finally admitted I wanted to go to the show in New York. Getting tickets would be easier than it had been when I was a wee lass of 16 years. Instead of cutting morning classes to go over the hill to Tower Records to buy tickets, they were a mouse click away on Ticketmaster. As long as you could decipher the warped looking words, the site would process your request and find available seats.

With just over five days until showtime, the site kicked back tickets for seats on the floor level. That would have been okay, except they were way in the back.

“Those look kind of crappy.” My husband said.

"Damn it, I should have bought them sooner," I lamented.

We tried again. This time around there was nothing available and I panicked. “But we just had those seats!” I said. What had initially been perceived as “crappy” was now ideal. I could’ve worked with those, I thought as I typed in the warped words and refreshed the Ticketmaster® site. Then, there they were again. I exhaled.

“Let’s see if I can find something too,” my husband said as he opened his laptop.

“Hurry up, they only hold these for a minute and a half. Then these tickets get released to the public.” I said, reading the words from the screen. The seconds ticked by. Ticketmaster® bases its business on first come first serve. If you stand there too long trying to decide whether you want fries with that, they will skip you and take the next guy’s order.

The session times out and I go into a panic. I felt like pounding my head on the keyboard and shouting “I’ll never get it!” like Don Music from Sesame Street. “Calm down.” My husband replies, “I have them on mine.” Sure enough, the same tickets that had disappeared from my screen are now available on his. He passes his computer to me and I hurry to grab my wallet from my bag so I can buy the tickets. I’m shaking as I check and double check the credit card number for typos. The ticket options are a blur. You can have them mailed to you, or you can pick them up, or you can print them in the comfort of your own home. I neglect to see which option my husband has chosen. 45 seconds remain and I enter the order.

Seconds later, the confirmation screen pops up, informing me I have two tickets and slightly more credit card debt. I breathe easy at last.

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