Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Ticket to the Show

"I must be in the front row!!" -- Bob Uecker

We’d all love to have front row seats for the show, but those are reserved for the patrons that have jewelry to rattle. After all, there are only so many front row seats, and behind them, there are only so many box seats. The rest of us have to find a way to be content in the bleachers, seated beside boorish drunks and twitching toddlers, high on cotton candy. Nobody likes to be in the nosebleed section, but it sure as hell beats never making it to the show or being priced out, relegated to standing outside, listening through the locked exit doors. We fill our pockets with snacks from 7/Eleven and eat ahead of time, to avoid the pricey confections at the arena. We go in knowing that we can’t afford the souvenirs and swag.

To be honest, front row seats are a little too up close and personal for my tastes. I once spent two hours and thirty minutes, staring up into Al Pacino’s nostrils, which is about two hours and thirty minutes too long. When I was younger, and an avid movie-goer, I would count the theaters’ seats and do my best to sit in the very middle. In my mind the film was designed to be best enjoyed from the center, in the middle of the stereo system. There are still the second run movie theaters, where those that cannot afford the eleven dollars at the glittery first run chain theaters can pay discount prices.

“Somebody give me a fucking wiener before I die.” – Randall Patrick McMurphy

We have our own forms of entertainment in the cheap seats. There’s the guy that acrobatically throws peanuts to customers, while simultaneously putting his daughter through college. And then there’s the guy, who always shows up in full regalia, with face-paint, wearing team colors. We all think he’s a little eccentric, but we love him and we wouldn’t want to see him come to any harm. We don’t want him thrown out of the show, just because he may have forgotten to take his anti-psychotic medication. You can’t even watch the World Series when you’re taken away. “I’m talking about the World Series, Nurse Ratched.”

“It’s an illusion!” – Doug Henning

Yes, life is an illusion. Magicians are amazing and tricks are not just for kids. It’s all sleight of hand, and misdirection. Kind of like the U.S. government. Nobody really wants to get sawed in half, or have swords thrust through your midsection, while you sit, cramped in a decorative box. We want it to be magic. Real life is painful, and often leaves a mark. As soon as your ticket is taken and your umbilical cord is cut, you have to get the show on the road. Matinees Wednesdays and Saturdays.

“Nobody said it was going to be fun. At least, nobody said it to me.” – Don Galloway in “The Big Chill”

Not everybody gets to be onstage. There are only so many sociopaths, troubled introverts and con-men and they operate at a loss. Being a celebrity is a disease. Snookie got a boob job; Pamela Anderson is now against pornography, and don’t even get me started on the whole Brangelina debacle. Everybody wants to be a YouTube star, ceaselessly counting their views and likes. We broadcast our egos over the internet, convincing ourselves that we are stars in our own lives, but we are just stand-ins and walk-ons. Life is full of bit parts, and we usually have to do our own stunts. Bones get broken. Feelings get hurt.

We’re all just trying to remember our lines and keep our minds off the final curtain call. Will you get a standing ovation at the end of your life, with shouts of Encore! Encore! or will your last performance be in front of an empty auditorium, with a few chirping crickets in the peanut gallery? The choice is not yours. The choice is genetic and environmental. The choice is a throw of the dice and a spin of the wheel. JOKER, JOKER, JOKER!!

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