The theater never starts on time. The tickets may say the show starts at 8pm, but the curtain always takes a bit longer to ascend. When I see a show I pick up my tickets at 8, get in my seat by 8:05, and I’m watching the show by 8:10. I’ve done this dozens of times, it works for me. However, a curious chain of events lead me to realize the shocking possibilities of picking up tickets early. It started with a rainy evening and an exceptionally late date. It ended with champagne and decadent desserts in a room full of world-class performers and eclectic, rich, old people.
I had been waiting in the rain for nearly 15 minutes when I finally received a text message from my date, the man whose tardy arrival was making my feet soggy. Instead of the “hey I’m here!” I was expecting, my date informed me that he was at least another 15 minutes away. “So sorry! :)” Squashing the urge to grab the next man to walk past me, shake him by the shoulders, and scream “WHY DOES YOUR GENDER SUCK!??”, I pondered what to do with the quarter-hour. “I know!” I thought to myself, “I can use this time to pick up the tickets! I’ve never picked them up early before, it will at least be a new experience. When he finally gets here we can grab dinner and won’t have to get back until 8:05!” I patted myself on the back. “Brilliant plan.”
The lobby area of the famous concert hall is warm and inviting, a stark contrast to the cold and wet on the opposite side of the glass doors. I fold my umbrella and felt a blast of the central heating. Ahhh. My body begins to relax from its former huddled-under-umbrella pose. This was an even better idea than I originally realized.
As I am a full hour early, no one else is picking up tickets. I waltz up to the box office window. “Hello!” I smile at the teller, my mood improving as steadily as the warmth in my hands, “I’m picking up tickets under ‘New York Cliché’, please.” The man behind the glass takes the ‘C’ envelopes and shuffles through them. “Can you repeat the name please?” “Cliché?” I reply, my up-word inflection betraying a lack of confidence. What if I got the wrong day! What if Lenny forgot to reserve tickets? I start to worry. He shuffles through them again. This time he pulls out an envelope. Phew. “Here you are,” he says, handing them to me, “8 o’clock curtain, the house should be open in about 20 minutes, and you’re invited to a champagne reception after. Enjoy the concert.”
Champagne reception? Lenny didn’t say anything about a reception. But sure enough, tucked in the envelope, next to the tickets, is an invitation to a champagne reception, following the concert, with the conductor and performers. Wow! Apparently Lenny is an even better connection than I realized! Tickets in hand, I wait for my date inside the lobby. It’s an incredible improvement to my previous waiting-place. This along with the prospect of dinner AND a concert AND champagne and I’m almost in a good mood when my date finally arrives (total tardy time: exactly 30 minutes late). We have just enough time to grab a quick dinner. He leads me to a funny speak-easy-esque burger joint, hidden away in the lobby of a hotel where you would never find it unless your date knew exactly where to look (and he did).
We return to the venue at exactly 8pm and hustle to find our seats. Our tickets are for the lower mezzanine which turns out to be all box seating. Each box has its own area for coats and an attendant. Oh my, it is fancy. My date laments he feels under dressed. He thought a blazer would be enough, he regrets wearing jeans. I, on the other hand, feel perfectly dressed in a lovely $6-amazing-thrift-store-find dress. “This is the fanciest date I’ve ever been on,” he whispers in my ear. Yes, and I’m not sure you deserve it, I think. Guess I haven’t forgiven him for making me wait in the rain!
There is confusion when we arrive in our box. Apparently people are already seated in our seats…The ushers don’t know what to make of it. They apologize profusely and kindly ask us to wait. A well dressed woman introduces herself to us and says there’s been a “SNAFU”, duplicated tickets or something of the sort. She apologizes and tells us that there are extra seats in the conductor’s box. Would we mind terribly sitting there? My date and I look at each other in disbelief. No, no, we wouldn’t mind at all.
That is how I found myself watching an orchestra performing the works of Beethoven, Mozart, and Hayden, from the conductor’s box. The music was incredible, the sound unbelievable, the experience surreal. Even my date’s repeated dozing off couldn’t put a damper on the evening. I rather enjoyed the opportunity to slap him awake (yep, definitely haven’t forgiven him.)
After the performance, we followed the crowd to the champagne reception. It appears everyone seated in the lower mezz was invited. As we wait in line for champagne, marveling at the performance we’ve just seen, and the bizarre situation with the ticket, I check my phone for the first time in hours. There’s a text from Lenny: “The tickets are under my name” sent at 7:36 PM. That’s when it all starts coming together. The box office gave me tickets for someone else named “Cliché”! A “Cliché” who is important enough to be invited to private champagne receptions! We’re not supposed to be here! This is what happens when you pick up tickets early!
Needless to say, we didn’t leave. The people watching was too good- how do the best instrumentalists in the world take their coffee? How do old rich ladies manage to pull off gold sequined berets with magenta slacks? How can that gentleman really be wearing a full-on pirate-esque eyepatch? We spent the rest of the evening sipping champagne, eating an assortment of desserts (raspberry tarts, puddings in ceramic cups with silver spoons), and being 30 years younger everyone (and at least 30 times poorer).
If my date had been really into me, he never would have been 30 minutes late. If my date hadn’t been 30 minutes late, I never would have picked up the tickets an hour early. If I hadn’t picked up the tickets early, I never would have picked up the other “Cliché’s” tickets by mistake. If I hadn’t picked up the other “Cliché’s” tickets, I never would have had an incredible concert from the conductor’s box nor been granted access to the as-fancy-as-it-was-exclusive champagne reception. Everything happens for a reason!
What else did I learn? Always pick up your tickets early and if he is 30 minutes late, he’s not worth your time.