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The Ticket

By Published: December 30, 2010
I do not blame the wives for the changing plans. They were not out to spoil anyone's fun. It's just that we men are not so good at knowing the family schedule. As I've heard many men say, "I just go where I am told." What interests me the most about this story of the ticket is the joy that the thought of going to this concert was bringing to these friends when each thought they were going to hear Preservation Hall. And who could blame them. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band will be 50 years old in 2011 and is one of the oldest jazz bands in the world. Playing over 150 concerts a year on the road, they have been an international jazz favorite. The band was at the end of a three-week tour that took them to South America, up to Alaska, and Ontario, Canada prior, to landing in Philadelphia for a sold out concert at the 950 seat concert venue at The University of Pennsylvania. It was going to be a glorious night of jazz by some of the finest traditional jazz musicians in the world. I understood their joy, and I felt their disappointment..

Now I began my search outside the college. My friend Don was always a good companion and quite spontaneous. We have often called him and his wife, Bonnie, moments before we were off to do something and they were often able to join us. But tonight, I did not even get past Bonnie.

"He's at the grocery store," she said, "and I know he has a job interview in New York tomorrow afternoon. I don't think he will be back. He would have loved to have joined you."

So now it was Dave's turn. Dave was a local business owner and he and I served on a board for a local non-profit. He and I met every month or so for breakfast at a local diner and we always enjoyed each other company. So I sent him an e-mail. "Hey Dave," I wrote, "do you have plans for tomorrow night? I might have a ticket for Preservation Hall at the Annenberg Center. I'm waiting to hear from someone and can let you know tomorrow morning."

An hour later, I received his reply: "Oh no!!! I would LLLLOOOOVVVEEE to go, BUT, I have a date (with Gail)! We're going to see/hear the Jersey Boys. Can't you get them to postpone to Sat.nite?? Thanks for the invite. I would have jumped at it. Let's try to do it if/when they come again."

Another letdown; but what became clear to me is that I now possessed the ticket to happiness. People lit up when I asked them to go, and for a moment, we were best friends. And I still had more opportunities to spread that joy. My wife suggested I call her brother Michael who lived in New Orleans for eight years. Once again, I could hear his surprise and joy through the phone. "That would be great!," he said. "I have not seen them in years. Thanks so much for thinking of me. I can probably just stay in town after work and meet you there. Let me call my wife and I'll call you back in a few minutes."

And, of course, five minutes later a call from a disappointed Michael: "Sorry. Plans. Maybe you should try Ron."

Ron is my wife's cousin. A great guy who works downtown and has been known to get me tickets to ball games. It's time I pay him back. We had a quick conversation mid-morning on Thursday. "Absolutely," he said, "that would be great. How about I meet you at 5:30 and we have dinner. I've always wanted to see Preservation Hall, so this is great. Call me later and we'll finalize plans."

Great, I found a pal to go with me. And now we'll have a nice downtown dinner to boot. I called Ron when I got home and he was still excited about the evening. "I'll take the subway and you can pick me up at 5:30 at 36th and Chestnut and we'll figure out where to eat," he enthused. "This will be great!"

"Solid," I replied.

Finally, I had found someone. The ticket found a home.

Or so I thought. Five minutes after I hung up, my wife approached me with the phone she had just answered. With a sad look on her face, she said, "It's Ron." He, too , had forgotten about long-made plans.

Now it is 9 pm on Thursday night. The concert was less than 24 hours away, and I still did not have anyone to go along with me. Marianne, sensing my desperation, gave me the names of a few females she would feel comfortable with me taking along. Betsy was the former owner of the café we used to frequent, and we have attended many jazz events with her. I sent her a message on Facebook at 9 pm, and an hour later I received the following:

"Hi Wade—thanks for thinking of me—I'd have LOVED to have gone but it's not my normal boring Friday tomorrow nite—well if things go as planned I should be in NYC tomorrow day and evening—and if they don't , it'll be because I'll be babysitting my friend's little guy cause his mom would be in the hospital having baby number 2!! Either way I couldn't be counted on—and darned cause I'd have loved to have seen them and met them too—cool—have fun—hope that you get some great company to go along! sure you will!"

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