I read in the paper that front row tickets for the upcoming Rolling Stones concerts are selling for over $5,000 a piece. That’s a lot of money to shell out to see four geezers prance arthritically around on stage.
So I guess you won’t see me there unless, of course, I’m able to score a free ticket. Chances of that are slim, but I managed to procure one the last time Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie were in town, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed. They won’t be arriving at SBC Park until November. I’ve got some time to scheme.
Six years ago the Rolling Stones launched their No Security Tour at Oakland’s Coliseum. I was there, not in a front row seat, but someplace so far away from the main stage, it was easier to watch them strut their stuff on the big scr eens hanging from the ceiling than to look down upon their actual minuscule, wrinkled selves. I had come by a ticket in an unusual way. I had published an article about my husband’s accident in the San Francisco Chronicle a few weeks earlier. A reader fro m Alameda contacted me via e-mail. “I’d like to help you in some way,” wrote my anonymous, soon-to-be benefactor. “I run a small non-profit dedicated to giving family care providers a respite. I have restaurants, hotels, theaters and spas who donate servi ces, an evening on the town, or a weekend getaway for someone like you, someone who needs a break.”
At the time I received this kind offer, I was overwhelmed with my husband’s care. I could not imagine spending an evening out, or going on an overnight adventure. I declined, but the benefactor was insistent. “Maybe I can get a restaurant to donate two meals so that you can take your husband,” she wrote. “Thank you,” I replied, “but going out for dinner is something we already do together. There’re plenty of people who need this service more than me.”
“Stop with the martyr business,” admonished my patron. “Think of something for you.”
I called her. “I’d like to see the Rolling Stones this weekend. Can you get me a ticket?”
There was silence on the other end of the line. “Are you crazy? That concert has been sold out for months.”
“Look,” I said. “I’m a middle-aged woman taking care of a C-4 quadriplegic. Mick Jagger understands my lack of satisfaction.”
Twenty-four hours later the phone rang. “I got you a ticket,” she said, “but there’s a catch.”
“What is it?”
“You’ll have to go on something like a date to get it. A friend of mine has two nosebleed seats. He just broke up with his girlfriend. He’ll take you in her place.”
“Confirmed!” I shouted. “Tell me where to meet him and I’ll be there.”
“You have to go to his home two hours before show time. He doesn’t want to risk missing any of the concert by trying to find you in the Coliseum parking lot.”
She gave me his number and I called him. He gav e me directions to his apartment and warned me not to be late. I explained to my husband where I was going. He was happy for me, and not the least bit interested in going himself.
“Have a good time,” he said as I was leaving. “Don’t get arrested.”
Thirt y minutes later I was sitting in my escort’s small, cramped living room. It was cramped because, among other things, it housed a full-size Harley Davidson motorcycle. “The safest place to keep a classic hog like this,” explained my host, “is as close to y our bedroom as possible.” His walls were lined floor-to-ceiling with records from the ‘60s.
He offered me a drink while we waited for his friends. “No thanks,” I said, exactly the way I would’ve in 1967 when I was still in high school and about to attend an Iron Butterfly concert at the Electric Light Factory in Philadelphia. I was scared, but optimistic.
His friends arrived and we piled into a windowless paneled van. It was eerily familiar, like 1972 when I was headed for a Procol Harum concert in the rear of Donnie Rowland’s Ford Econoline. I felt claustrophobic and slightly unhinged. I hoped the driver, whoever he was, knew the way to the coliseum.
We arrived early. We took our seats. The Stones came on. I was not disappointed.