Thursday, July 10, 2014

Play Me A Piano Man Memory

I've never been one to let reality stand in the way of a good story. But the story you are about to read is true.


The intensity of my current preoccupation with Billy Joel has taken even me by surprise. On more than one occasion I've wondered if I have, indeed, finally lost my mind for good. Then, while I was gloating over finally wrangling a good, face-value ticket from the actual, official ticket vendor, a little snippet of a memory started niggling at the back of my mind.

I've done this before.

I've tried to get Billy Joel concert tickets before, that is. But it wasn't until I clicked the “Buy Now!” icon and looked over the freshly printed ticket (and started worrying that I was the victim of an elaborate hoax), that the memory of that first, failed attempt for tickets started coming in to focus.

In some respect, I think I'm like the old man in Billy Joel's “Piano Man” who asks:
Son, can you play me a memory
I'm not really sure how it goes”

I know what he means. There are parts of that first ticket buying memory which are true. Others? I'm not really sure how they go.

It's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man's clothes.”

This memory is sad, but it's definitely not sweet and I may have added some details to make it complete.

It does, however, involve a younger me's clothes.

Picture if you will, Eastern Iowa circa 1984-ish. KRNA radio (mandatory listening for Eastern Iowa teens) announced that Billy Joel would be appearing at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. Tickets would be available at local Ticketmaster outlets.

I wanted desperately to go to this show. But not so desperately that I would skip school (nerd alert) to camp out at the box office. Remember, these were the dark days before home computers and the internet. If you wanted tickets you stood in line, you didn't go on-line.

The day tickets went on sale I rushed home from school to change clothes before heading to Iowa City. I just had to swap my cheerleading uniform for something infinitely more cool and appropriate for concert-ticket buying: spray-painted on jeans and layered polos – collars popped!

Up in my second-floor room the radio was on and the sweater was coming off when my hopes and dreams came crashing down: The DJ announced the IC concert was already sold out.

Noooooooooooooo! This is the song of my people: the anguished cry of the disillusioned, heartbroken, angst-ridden teen.

My arms were caught up in that akward over-the-head sweater-removing tangle when, in my frustration and despair, I gave one last great tug to free myself from my poly-cotton blend straightjacket and wacked my elbow on my tall dresser.


Now I had no ticket and no feeling in my arm.

I was scarred for life. Or at least for 20 some-odd years (or 30).

Flash forward to Eastern Iowa, circa 2014. I'm certain it was the repressed and potentially sketchy memory of my first failed (and painful) attempt to score Billy Joel tickets that kept me skulking around the ticket web sites until my sheer determination and dumb luck paid off.

I got a tick-et. I got a tick-et.
I went on-li-ine and got a tick-et.

And I didn't have to change clothes or smash my elbow.

Sing me a song, Piano Man. I'm in the mood for a new memory.

1 comment:

  1. Sprayed on jeans? Did Gabby read that? If so, you will never be able to talk her out of the inappropriate outfit she has on. Her with the knowledge you were going out in public with those jeans is enough. Then add the layered polos - with collars popped and she has an arsenal at her defense.
    But a sore elbow would be so worth tickets!!