Monday, September 9, 2013

The Swell Season "I Have Loved You Wrong"

At last week's Laura Marling show, a few folks who had bought tickets let us know that they couldn't come, and discussion turned to reselling those tickets, meaning we would be double-dipping on some of the seats.

And I had a flashback to The Swell Season show I went to a couple of years ago . . .

I was supposed to go with my wife, but she wasn't feeling well, and as I was leaving for Boston, she decided it would be best if she stayed home.

I got on the phone and made a number of calls as I was driving up to Boston.

Did my sister want to go?  Not really.  She hadn't even heard of the band.

How about her husband?  No, he was working.

My wife's brother worked in the city, but I wasn't sure what time he got out.  Had he already left town?  Was he not getting out of the office until well after the show started?

I left him a message and told him to call me back.  I'd wait in the lobby until the show started, hoping he'd return my call.

It was a bitterly cold night in Boston.  (In fact, almost a year later I met Glen Hansard of The Swell Season at Newport Folk, and when I said, "I saw you last fall in Boston," his one sentence reply was "Yeah . . . it was really cold that night.")

I waited and waited, but didn't hear from my brother-in-law.

I hated that the ticket might go to waste, so I approached the box office, which was in the foyer between the street and the lobby.

"My wife isn't coming to the show.  Do you want to resell this?"

The young folks behind the glass looked at me like I was about to hand them a turd.

"No, No!  We can't do that."

I guess there some law about reselling.

They told me, "You're welcome to give it away though."

A small line to get in had formed behind me.

"Does anyone need a ticket?" I asked hopefully.

I got the averted eye that I'd given many, many times before, to scalpers.

"It's free."

There was one person looking at me.  He didn't say anything, but he looked and gave me a hint of a smile.

He was on the other side of the foyer space.  He was most certainly homeless.

I'd seen him in the foyer, busying himself reading the posters of coming attractions.  Looking out the glass doors, up and down the street, as if he were waiting for someone.

It was bitterly cold, and the lobby was a small respite from that.

I thought about it for a second.  Should I give this guy my ticket?  Give him 2 hours in a warm, safe space?

But then I thought, If I give him the ticket, I'm stuck with him for 2 hours.  It's not just a pass to get in.  It's a pass to sit right next to me.  What if he's weird?  What if he's unstable?  What if he wants to talk during the show?

Already feeling a bit fragile (as I wrote about in the previous post).  Was this what I was really going to substitute for a night with my wife?

I turned and went inside, the extra ticket still in my pocket.

Did I do the right thing?  I don't know.  Probably not. 

I certainly didn't do the kind thing, the charitable thing.

More than that, remembering this little moment I re-read the lengthy, "Oh I'm sad about my wife not being here" post and think about how small my problems seem, and how embarrassed that I am to have had them, when I compare them to the problems of the homeless man, whose next two hours, and his night, and his rest-of-his-winter are out in the bitter cold of an unforgiving Boston season.

Hear the song on Youtube.

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