Taylor Swift came to town. As catchy as I find one of her songs (see: Blank Space), I’m a 43-year-old dad with two boys; Ms. Swift is really not in my wheelhouse, though I do hear she’s very, very nice.
However, she is wildly popular with most of the girls in my sons’ classes at school, so Facebook was awash with pictures of classmates and their moms, or their siblings, or their dads who either love their daughters abundantly, or lost the bet with their spouse on who gets to hear over twenty-thousand estrogen and pre-estrogen voices belt out, “‘Cause baby now we got baaaaaaad bloooooood!”
I walked into my office the morning after the first of two concerts. My office mate’s administrator, Chrissy, was already at her desk. After our “good mornings,” I asked if she took her daughter Grace to the first show.
“No,” said Chrissy. “And it’s a particular bone of contention.”
“Did she get in trouble?” I asked.
“Not at all, but she is really sad and mad that we didn’t get tickets, especially since all of her friends are going, which is a terrible reason to do anything. And have you seen the prices?”
Tickets for both shows went on sale in January, and sold out approximately twenty-four minutes after the opening bell. Scalped nosebleed seats were going for $300 a pop a few months ago.
“So you’re not going?” I asked.
“I don’t think so,” said Chrissy.
I went into my office and sat at my computer. I was about to start my work for the day when a few thoughts from my past elbowed their way into my conscious. The first was the time when I was thrown out of my Jeep while doing sixty down Interstate 70 (walked away without a scratch). The second was hearing, after twelve weeks of chemotherapy, that I’d beaten stage-three testicular cancer (a bit more bruising than the accident).
My perspective on life is a little different than most. I’ve almost died twice that I know about, not including God knows how many other blissfully ignorant instances. I’m fairly aware of my mortality, and just how fleeting life can be. When presented with an opportunity to do something special, I try to come up with any reason why I should say “yes,” when it would be infinitely more prudent to say “no,” usually from lack of time or lack of finances.
I couldn’t picture Chrissy coming in to work the next morning saying, “Boy, I’m so glad that we didn’t go to Taylor Swift last night.”
“So answer me this,” I said, walking out of my office. “What is the main reason why you didn’t buy tickets?”
“Because it was so long ago, and because I didn’t think all of her friends would be going, and by the time I thought about it, they were just so expensive. I wouldn’t spend that kind of money on any show, anywhere.” She had a point, but I was undaunted.
“Does she only want to go because he friends are going?” I asked.
“Oh no, she loves Taylor Swift. Yes, she would think it was cool to go, but she loves her music.”
“So she would get a lot out of it?” I asked.
“Is Grace a good kid?”
Chrissy paused, and then grinned from ear to ear. “She’s amazing, Dan.”
“So she’s earned it just by being who she is?”
“Yeah, I guess she has.”
“And what would it mean to you if you got to go on a date with your daughter, especially one like this?”
“It would mean a lot, actually.”
“And Chrissy, let’s be honest. Everything we do is fleeting. A concert is three hours, and then it’s done. But you take the memory with you ’til death or dementia.”
Chrissy and I are both Catholics, so I saw an opening to go for the jugular. “Tell you what. Why don’t you leave it up to God? Think of the highest price you’d pay per ticket (not including handling charges), and if you can find them for that price on StubHub, you’ll have your answer.”
(This, by the way, works on all Catholics. Seriously.)
Sure enough, because there were so many left on the day of the concert, prices had dropped like a stone. Five minutes after I walked back into my office to work, “Woo hoo! My sister and I are both taking her!” echoed through the hallway.
The next morning, I didn’t have to ask Chrissy how her night went; she had the biggest smile on her face as she told me more about a Taylor Swift show than I ever could have imagined. But even more joyous for Chrissy was that she got to make a forever memory with her daughter while she still thinks it’s okay to hang with mom.
As a dad of two young sons, I’ve already started to notice the change from, “Dad, can you do this for me?” to “Dad, I got this.” Sadly, I’m already starting to miss what I’m still enjoying at this stage in my life. But if two near-death experiences have taught me anything, it’s that sometimes, prudence needs to take a back seat to indulgence. In most instances, the indulgence is not about the concert, or the play, or the road trip, or the vacation, or even the trip to Baskin Robbins after a hard day at school. All of them are over a split-second after they end. The memories created in the moments are the things worth fighting for, every time.
And besides, so what if tickets cost as much as a Yugo? The experience and the memories will be worth eating noodles instead of steak for a few days. Or weeks.
Or in the case of scalped U2 tickets… four months.