Saturday, September 08, 2007

Pleasure Triumps Over Tribulation

I'll likely be spending another weekend out of town with friends soon. We usually have a rollicking good time laughing at the most ridiculous events. For example, one weekend we had a bit of a ticket crisis for a concert we were to attend that night. The tickets were not where my friend expected them to be in her incoming mail basket. She had looked for them earlier, but couldn't find them. After I arrived, while we were chatting, she resumed her ticket search. She unsuccessfully leafed through the contents of that basket a second time, reporting, "Here's the envelope -- but there are no tickets inside." She wondered, "Do you suppose they never sent the tickets?" I volunteered I thought I recalled her telling me in a phone conversation she had received them.

She carefully looked through opened letters just one more time, "Ah!" she held up tickets, "Here they are! Oh, wait a minute, these are tickets for plays we're going to this fall." She paused, "Do you suppose when these tickets came, I mistakenly thought they were the concert tickets?" She hastiliy added, "Oh, I don't think I would have done that -- on the other hand..." Having found an envelope in which she thought the tickets had come, my friend was confident she would readily find them just mixed in with some other letters and papers she could look through later, so we relaxed to talk some more.

Her husband shortly joined us, having earlier turned on the grill in preparation for the casual relaxed unhurried dinner we planned before we left. My friend made another quick, but unsuccessful check for the tickets, as she reported, "I'm sure I remember seeing them when they arrived in the mail weeks ago." She was quite exasperated by now, and decided to elicit her husband's magical ticket locating powers. He took on this challenging task with the self-assurance of someone who knew one of his primary reasons for being in life was to solve problems -- especially his wife's. He confidently initiated the ticket search as the grill continued heating while he looked through the in-basket's contents.

Shortly, he said, "What time is it now?" When he was told, he became even more concentrated on his searching efforts. He began sifting through the same papers, looking in those envelopes again, in a slightly more frantic mode, accompanied by an escalating rapid sequence of hand movements and sorting, sprinkled with, "Should we keep this?," or "Why are we keeping this?" and later, "Can't we throw this away?" Then, "No, we better keep this." Across the room his wife said, "I'll check this junk drawer, just in case, though I'm sure I wouldn't have put them here." But no tickets there. "Well, there is one other drawer that's a possibility, though I really don't think they're there." And, they weren't!

One of them suggested the tickets had probably slipped down behind the cabinet where the in-basket resided. After all, they both agreed, the basket was pretty full and they really did need to take care of all those papers. The basket didn't look that full to me, and didn't even seem to be spilling out over the top, but it was fairly deep. In order to access the area behind the cabinet, he removed a couple wine bottles from a shelf and set them on the table. We laughingly discussed that perhaps we should just open the wine and forget about the tickets, when examination revealed no tickets or even any papers had fallen out of the in-basket to slip down behind the cabinet.

Voices began to assume a slightly tense anxious quality when another time check revealed we should have started eating dinner earlier and were now behind schedule. A rush to the grill; soon salmon, hastily prepared salad, corn on the cob, and other food ultimately made it to the table. The previously intended lengthy relaxed dinner hour became one of "eat as fast as you can so we can get out of here." I proved to be the slowest of all at this task and the next thing I knew my plate was removed from in front of me the split second my fork raised the last bite a fraction of an inch off the plate's surface.

We marveled at this newly created genteel social custom of table clearing, and my host laughingly wondered if he had jeopardized how I would now view their warm hospitality. Of course, I hastened to assure him "It won't have an adverse effect at all, other than I won't be visiting you any more, or if I do come, I certainly won't be eating with you." Then, I observed, "Or is that what you were angling for all along?" I didn't even give him time to respond and quickly retracted my declaration. They weren't going to get rid of me that easily. We were all laughing so hard at this turn of events, it's a wonder I didn't choke on that last bite of food and need the Heimlich Maneuver.

Earlier there had been some discussion about whether or not we should even bother driving into the amphitheatre traffic congestion, since we were behind schedule, and probably wouldn't be able to attend the concert anyway. My friend said, "We can't phone the amphitheatre 'cause the tickets all come from somewhere else and that office isn't open now. I don't think they're equipped to replace tickets at the theatre, either." She paused, then said, "Well, if we go and try to explain at the amphitheatre ticket office, they probably won't believe our story, much less let us in." As an after thought she laughingly commented, "Maybe we should just not even bother to go." We all agreed those unopened bottles of wine that hadn't been put back on their shelf were starting to look more and more attractive in preference to the traffic jam we anticipated, and the likelihood we might not even be able to enter the amphitheatre anyway.

Still it was not in the nature of any of us to give in too easily on this venture. Surely we could believably plead our cause and succeed where others with lesser drive might give up much too readily. The driving force within us dictated that we must at least try, despite the hardship we might endure. We must risk learning the outcome by going there. Besides, those wine bottles would be awaiting us, if we had to return home in abject defeat.

We continued laughing incredulously at our situation, as someone said, "Oh, what the heck, we can park in the lot and maybe hear the concert from the car." The Problem Solver said, "Look, once we get through that bottleneck heavy traffic to get into the parking lot, you drive me up close to the entrance, and I'll get out. I'll walk up to the ticket office and see what I can do about getting us in. Maybe I can buy some more tickets if I have to, and they're not sold out." He then directed her, "You quickly find the closest parking spot you can, stay in the car, then watch for me. I'll come back and signal you with a wave if we have tickets. If I don't wave, come and pick me up as that will mean, 'no tickets' and we can't get seats."

During this conversation, we were hurriedly darting about, as some of us were busy making a last minute pit stop, then gathering our jackets for needed warmth from the cooling ocean breezes that would flow in later in the evening, if we were lucky enough to get into the amphitheatre. We were well past our designated departure time by now. I'm feeling quite non-plussed by all this hoopla, and share that "I'm really not stressed out by this turn of events at all. My attitude is, this is just another little blip in life and we'll either hear the concert or we won't." So, we left on our mission, encountered traffic even worse than we had imagined. When we turned into the amphitheatre, we were forced to play auto chicken with all the other latecomers being funnelled from four or five driving lanes into two.

The stars must have been aligned in our favor though, as we were admitted to the concert with little or no difficulty. The remainder of the evening was delightfully enjoyable listening to the marvelous performance of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. conducted by Carl St. Clair. The Shelly Berg Trio was featured; jazz samples can be heard on the link. I so enjoyed the music that I probably should write about the experience. But, the concert did come to an end and off we walked to our car. We did have to play auto chicken again driving out of the parking lot, then funnelling into too few lanes.

Several days later, my friend phoned me that her ticket source was going to send her replacement tickets for future concerts we planned to attend together. Furthermore, she said, after talking with that office, indications now are that she never received the tickets in the first place. I don't know what the implications of that turn of events are for my friend, so I assured her not to worry about it, as probably all it means is that she's losing her mind -- again. She's been pulling bizarre acts like that since I first knew her some thirty years ago. Of course, I've exhibited my share of them, too, but no point in mentioning that now. I'm sure I'll give her reason to once again question my sanity, any day.

I must say, the next concert experience for which I joined my friends seemed deadly calm by comparison to that previous one. We left really early, missed a lot of traffic, took along quite tasty prepared sandwiches we ate there, shared fruit. All but the designated driver sipped champagne. We even had a good parking spot, and avoided much of the exit traffic jam. Personally, I felt a little nostalgia for the excitement, uncertainty and chaos of that previous experience.

I can't help wondering if the fact I had a "whatever happens, happens" attitude of acceptance toward our ticket dilemma that first time, is a reflection of how I don't allow life's unexpected events to be quite as hand-wringingly distressing as they might have been in my younger days. Perhaps with aging, though I pursue all avenues to resolve any problems, I realize that if I'm unable, there are other pleasurable choices on which I can focus my attention. I wonder if others find that to be true for themselves, too?


  1. Just think, if your friend had immediately found the tickets the evening would not have been half as interesting.

    As an aside on the subject of misplacing things, my husband said the other day. "Have you seen my Swiss Army Watch? I am sure I left it in my sock drawer"

    We looked and looked. Took out all his socks and searched the other dresser drawers. I looked in my dresser and a few other places but no watch.

    About a week later, after much searching, we were in the kitchen and I glanced into an open cabinet shelf and into a large , glass salad bowl at eye level.
    What is that?

    A leather watch band just peeking up around the rim.

    I guess Sam had left the watch on the kitchen counter and I had put it in the salad bowl so the workers in the house at the time would not be tempted.

    Tick tock. Tick tock.

  2. What a story, trying to get the tickets, get to the performance, enjoy dinner. I'm glad the evening proved to be enjoyable in spite of the stress.

    It all made for a memory, a tale to tell!

  3. A great story! What's life without a bit of drama and comedy? Pretty dang boring, I'd say.

  4. The comedy of life.....I'd say we're all pretty lucky to have these moments to look back and laugh on. Nice post Joared.

  5. Yes, I've just started cultivating that attitude in the last few years, and it makes life a lot more enjoyable. It's also more interesting to find the good in the unexpected situation, than to disparage it just because one didn't anticipate or plan for it. MLFullFath