Last week, I talked about an essay of Harlan Ellison's I got to edit for our paper, thereby enabling me to meet my long-time hero.
Here it is. I know it's long (it's actually shorter than the original essay), but hurry up and read it because it's only going to be up for a week.
I spoke to him a few more times during the editing. He told me I have a "flat phone affect." I wasn't sure what that meant. I asked if that was the same as an affectation. He said no, it was more like when you call someone and their bored kid answers ths phone and he's like "Hi. Yeah. Whatever."
I told him it was because I was speaking to him from work, where I had to hide my enthusiasm. "Inside, I'm jumping up and down and doing cartwheels, I assure you," I told him.
Then he called me kiddo again, gave me very specific instructions on sending him copies of the paper, contracts and the like. Feeling for once in my life happy to be someone's errand boy, I told him I'd take care of it.
That made me happy for about 17 hours, until I got yelled at in public.
9 a.m. Saturday morning.
Andy calls. I'm bleary from staying up late the night before, but I'm still awake at this early hour because we have a mission.
U2 concet tickets.
We missed the early Internet presale, and I wasn't able to get away from work long enough during the week to score stand-in-line wristbands for the public ticket sale.
But we didn't care. Andy and some other folks I work with had a cunning plan.
A plan so cunning, in fact, that you could slice some cheese onto it, add some diced mushrooms, spin it into some eggs and create the world's most cunning omelette.
The plan was to go to an H.E.B. (our local foodmarket of choice) that was out in East Austin, where folks not only couldn't afford to buy U2 tickets (they were pricey, to say the least), but where the locals think Bono is a kind of narcotic. (Which I suppose he is, for some people.)
We arrived about a half hour early, joined our friend Tara in line, and suddenly realized that neither of us had any money. It was a cash-only line.
Thus began the mad scramble. H.E.B.'s ATM machine was out of cash. We stood in the express lane to buy batteries and get cash back on our debit cards. Turns out there's a $50 limit on cash back. The tickets for the U2 concert were $50 and almost $100. Each.
We clambered into Andy's little Honda and rushed to the nearest convenience store, which was actually on the other side of the highway. The ATM limit on that machine? $100. We each made multiple ATM withdrawls, and when I turned around from my last bank account desecration, Andy was already back in the car, pumping the gas.
We made it back, got in line with Tara, and spent the next few minutes waiting, telling jokes, having a grand time. This older guy behind us kept grinning when we said something particularly funny. He chimed in once or twice when we played Buzztime Trivia on Andy's cell phone.
So we get to the front of the line.
By this time, all the $50 floor "seats" (where you actually have to stand) are gone, leaving only the nosebleed mezzanine and arena seats, all of which are nearly $100 each. Apparently, being old and needing a chair doubles the price of a ticket.
By this point, with the show about to sell out, we're just happy to get whatever we can get. A woman at the counter asks those of us in line how many tickets we each want. Andy was going to get two and I was going to get two. Somehow along the way, the guy behind us had wormed his way between us, but we didn't care because it looked like everybody was going to get seats, however nose-bleed-inducing they might be.
At the very front of the line, Nice Guy Behind Me asks how many tickets I'm getting. "Two," I tell him. He says I can go ahead in front of him. I assume it's because he's getting more tickets than I. Then, the woman at the counter tells me I'm getting arena seats that opened up. These are supposed to be better than the mezzanine seats everybody else is getting.
"Now hold on," Nice Guy Behind Me says. "I just let you in front of me, and now you get the arena seats. Those are my tickets!"
The woman at the counter and I exchange a look. She shrugs her shoulders. I look from her to Andy to Formerly Nice Guy, who now has little plumes of steam coming from his ears and horns emerging from his head.
"This is bullshit! I was nice enough to let you go in front of me, and now you're gonna screw me? You should let me have those tickets."
My mouth, which is normally so good in situations like this, seizes. All the while, this guy is starting to yell at me. The lady at the counter says, "Sir, I had already asked him how many tickets he wanted and he told me two."
"Yeah, but I let him go in front of me!" he shot back. A forked tail began to rip its way through the ass-fabric of his jeans.
"I"m sorry sir," the nice, patient lady says.
Meanwhile, my mouth is still on break. While the guy stares at me, agog, I've handed money over and am getting change back.
"You're gonna take the tickets?" Devil Dawg yells at me. "Oh, man, that's real nice, especially right now. That's real nice. Why don't you be a man, huh? A real man would give me those tickets." The ruddy, farmer tan of his skin has become a crimson red. The whites of his eyes have yellowed into a metallic urine color.
I take my change. Andy and I walk off. Quickly. Devil Dawg continues to fume, yelling as we go at the unfairness of it all.
We make it to the parking lot just as the fireballs and brimstone begin to fly, tossing aside the flimsy rope barriers of the customer service line. Outside, we quickly get into Andy's car and drive away, leaving the devil far behind.
Here's my summation. And since it's the devil, and I know he reads online journals, I know he can hear me:
I went home and went to sleep, the sound of yelling stupid people chasing me to the dreamworld.
Okay, now go read today's entry from Rob. He just broke my heart with this one, big time.
Hey, look at this! Stuff to buy! Haaawwwt-Damn!
"Don't stand... Don't stand so... Don't stand so close to me."