Sunday, July 21, 2013

What do One Direction and Barry Manilow Have in Common?

Marah would hum.

She isn’t a verbal child. She doesn’t speak of how she is feeling or tell you her emotions. She’s like her father in that respect and sometimes it can leave a mother frustrated, wanting details. The one sure way I could always tell she was content, at peace, and her happiest is when she would quietly hum. It is the most beautiful sound in the world to me.

You have to look at her behaviors to get a picture of what she’s thinking, feeling, enjoying, disliking…you understand. Take her favorite band, for instance. I know that other than soccer, One Direction is her favorite thing in the world by looking in her bedroom.

She has a few photos of friends, a radio, hair/makeup/jewelry items on her dresser, and clothes scattered everywhere. That’s it, except for her walls. They are almost completely covered with posters of the band One Direction.

When she gave us her birthday list in March, “One Direction Tickets” were the only items requested.

So began a four month long quest to obtain One Direction tickets for Marah’s birthday. Some idiot decided it would be a good idea to place those tickets on sale a whopping SIXTEEN MONTHS before the actual show. SIXTEEN MONTHS for a band who markets to fickle tweens. SIXTEEN MONTHS for a band who, at that time, had only existed for twenty months and whose members, at the time, were still in grammar school.

Well played, idiot, well played. The gamble paid off, and in the Kansas City area it became the hottest and hardest ticket of the year to obtain.

First I went to the Sprint Center web site and tried to purchase tickets. This is when I discovered they were sold out. The Eagles are going to be here in the fall. You can still buy tickets to see them. The Eagles haven’t sold out, but freaking One Direction has.

Then I checked Stubhub and Tickets for Less. Ouch. They were asking hundreds and hundreds of dollars for tickets that began at under $30 for face value. Craigslist was no better. It appears “market value” is whatever the ticket brokers are asking with another $100+ added in for good measure. I knew then that Marah was most likely not going to be seeing One Direction this year, but I couldn’t quit obsessing over it or trying to figure out a way to get her there. Why?

Then it hit me: Barry Manilow.

Have you ever been out with adult friends, enjoying cocktails, and played the “first concert” game? It’s not really a game, more of a “who was your first concert” and the “winner” is the person who attended the coolest show. The loser, of course, is always me; always. This is because my first concert was Barry Manilow. My friend Tavish always wins in these instances. No one can touch her “my parents took me to see Janice Joplin when I was eight months old” story. I’m so jealous.

I was in the 7th grade and it was the early ‘80s. A sensitive child, I would listen to “Weekend in New England” , “I Write the Songs” and "Mandy" over and over again, feeling all the sadness of the world encapsulated in these three slow songs. Yes, I was a deep and emotional tween. Don’t mock me, I know how pitiful this was.

I had little contact with my mother, even though she lived in the area. Her 6th husband Dave, in an attempt to win points with her parents (who, by the way, were also my Grandparents/guardians), bought tickets to take me to see Barry at the Bicentennial Center in Salina, Kansas. I was in heaven, even though it was a little weird knowing I’d be spending an entire evening with my mother and Dave. At the same time, it was cool. Mom was taking me to my first concert.

Fast forward to 2013 and my therapist friends can probably diagnose this obsession with making sure Marah’s first concert is spectacular: mommy issues. Just when you think you’ve tackled all of them, eh ladies? In addition, I never want Marah to be the laughing stock of her social group for having the most humiliating “first concert” story. I still carry the scars. To fully appreciate "said scars" click on the link. This is exactly the version of Copacabana I witnessed...float, pineapple, and flamenco shirt included.

I’m a planner when it comes to events; must come from years of stalking KU basketball. Around the time of Marah’s birthday, Bruno Mars tickets were going on sale. He’s regularly in the top 40, so I pounced and was ready on the appointed day and hour, managing to buy two floor seats just after the tickets were released. You can still purchase Bruno Mars tickets, by the way, but the FLOOR seats are sold out. SNAP. Momma did good.

Next up was how to utilize the Bruno Mars tickets to obtain One Direction tickets and I figured it would be easy: simply post on Craigslist that I had floor Mars tickets and would swap for even the worst One Direction tickets. Sounds good, right? Until my twelve year old began to hem and haw that she kind of wanted to see Bruno Mars too and didn’t want horrible tickets to One Direction. We had a long heart to heart (I spoke, she listened) after which she fully understood she would only be seeing one band and needed to choose: One Direction or Bruno Mars. You can guess the answer.

I contacted my half sister in Los Angeles, who is one of the hottest rising female DJ’s in the industry. I wasn’t too proud when I told her “what good is it having a family member in the biz if you can’t ask them for leads on One Direction tickets?” Marah was thrilled when Cat called to say she might know someone who works with one of the band members. I won’t lie, visions of back stage passes & images of my baby girl with her favorite rock stars passed through my mind. Then I smacked my own face and came back to reality. Alas, the LA connection wouldn’t bear fruit.

My initial Craigslist posting resulted in zero responses. In the meantime, I began checking Craigslist monthly, then weekly, and then daily. It was educational. One seller was asking $800 for two tickets or they were willing to trade them for a four wheeler. Such is life close to Missouri.

Another seller shared that they had purchased the tickets and were now going on a mission trip; they were asking hundreds of dollars above face value, were firm and unwilling to negotiate, and would only accept a check (huh?). I’m sure they had prayed about it.

Another seller was asking $7,000 for her two tickets. Assphinctersayswhat?

The best was the seller who wrote “I will be willing to take $1500 apiece but I would really like $2000 for them”. It was at this point, after months of looking, that I finally snapped and sent a reply via Craigslist that read:

Well, frankly, I know you'd be WILLING to take $1500....but since you'd really LIKE $2000, hell, I'll just go ahead and give you $4000 for the pair. I'll even throw in the family car and the dog while we're at it!! Would you like our house as well? How about the kid's college funds???? I mean seriously, it's only the cutest boy band ever to emerge from Simon Cowell's ass. Of course, I'm joking. What the hell is wrong with you???? NO ONE is going to give you FOUR FREAKING THOUSAND DOLLARS for two tickets.

The seller did not appreciate my advice, and responded:

If your(e) not going to make an offer please don't respond. Frankly, I know people who have worse seats then I do and have made $5,000 for one ticket alone. Also, these boys are very popular so some people are willing to pay an arm and a leg for these.

I have searched and searched for One Direction amputees in the Kansas City area but have yet to find a single one. If and when I discover them, I call dibs on the novel; THAT is a story worth telling.

Two weeks before the concert, I reposted my original “Bruno Mars/One Direction swap” offer and was elated when someone emailed me, offering to trade lower level 1D if I’d add additional cash. The amount was more than I was willing to pay, so I counter-offered (which, by the way, I’m horrible at doing – I’m the fool who never haggles at garage sales, never haggles at the market when travelling, and who has “I’ll give you whatever you want” tattooed on my forehead). I had a heart to heart with Marah, explaining that we might be making head way but that if she wanted to go she was going to have to have some skin in the game and put in her own money.

She’s tight, Mr. Krabs tight.

This child must love 1D, because she gathered up babysitting money she had hoarded and painfully (I could tell by her expression) gave it to me as part of the barter.

We waited…and waited. I didn’t hear back from the Bruno Mars girl and assumed she was going to wait it out to try and get more money.

In the meantime, more and more people started posting on Craigslist begging for tickets. One mom said she has no money and her little girl's dad had just had brain surgery. Some shared that they would have to pay for a hotel and gas, and aunt/grandma/cousin all want to go would someone sell them six tickets cheap? Some of them were even offering LESS than face value, not realizing that face value doesn’t reflect the fees attached, which can amount to over $30 (thank you Bruno Mars for teaching me this). In spite of this, or rather because of it, the sellers weren’t coming down in price.

Then my Bruno Mars girl emailed me (she’s “mine” now, LOVE HER). She accepted the offer, only “she” wasn’t a “she”. “She” is a “he”. We met in Lawrence, where he lives, and as an identifier I described myself as “red KU t-shirt, long brown hair, 40’s”. He described himself as “Asian guy”. My friends are offended because I keep calling him “Asian Guy” but THAT’S how he described himself!

Asian Guy had purchased the 1D tickets “as an investment” and was tired of haggling. I think he’ll sell the Bruno Mars tickets and still come out way ahead. Did I mention how much I love him? He was impressed that Marah had contributed to the transaction.

Now I know this is getting long, but the story can’t end here.

I found myself standing outside the Sprint Center at 5:30 pm on Friday night, sweat dripping down my back and cleavage, girls shoulder to shoulder shrieking at the drop of a hat, wondering how to document this event. To pass time, since my daughter isn’t one for chit chat, I began a series of texts to myself, describing in part the horrifying outfits, the completely un-cool Roseann-looking parents, and the shrieking.

It appears current fashion has returned, sadly, to the 80’s. Tight daisy duke shorts that button around the middle of the waist are the rage. Only most of the girls wearing these monstrosities are either vampire pale or Honey Boo-Boo full figured (or both, shudder).

The girl in front of us was wearing 1970’s style British spandex leggings, black and white striped, with two huge openings on the back thigh portion. I’ll attach a photo since her confidence can only be appreciated with a visual. Marah went berserk when I pulled out my phone to take the photo, telling me I was humiliating her. I replied loudly “honey, any person who wears THOSE in public is begging to have their picture taken! Now step back and let me get this!” The mother in front of me turned around, sporting a huge smile, and said “Exactly!”


We finally made it into the arena and I was impressed that we could purchase an endless tub of popcorn. This came in handy when we stumbled upon two of my friend’s daughters. One of them tore into the popcorn and by the time I was able to wrestle it away it was time for a refill. She must’ve been fueling herself for the main event; I know I was.

Marah waited inside while I went to refill the popcorn tub. While waiting at the counter, I noticed that the beer taps weren’t covered with cups so I said “No way! Can I get a beer?” The guy filling the popcorn said “sure” to which I responded “I may actually survive this night after all!” As I pulled out payment, he waved away the money, grinned widely, winked, and said “this one’s on us to help you get through the evening”. Can I get an "Amen" brother?

The shrieking was everything you would imagine, and then some. Fay Wray must’ve been in attendance (or that annoying actress from “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”). At times, I was in pain and had to jam my fingers so far into my ears that when I pulled them out they contained tiny bits of brain matter. The band members made comments along the lines of “wow, you guys are really loud” with no small amount of irritation. Marah, a quiet child by nature, was annoyed.

In spite of all that, the show was actually great. The girls got everything they wanted and then some. The band had a really cool floating stage, they ran around talking in their adorable British accents (and the one Irish accent, as Marah would so curtly remind me), they sang all of the favorites, and the techno aspects were spectacular. It’s been a long time since I saw a pop concert and this old girl was impressed. One Direction was a first concert that Marah can proudly talk about thirty or forty years from now and I will always cherish this memory.

As we settled into the car for the ride home, sitting in the quiet air conditioning and wriggling our toes to stretch tired feet, I heard a sound that still makes my heart sing.

Marah was humming.


  1. Marlys, I have a similar story about the first time "Hannah Montana" came to town and created the ticket seller scandal of the tri state area. It was so ridiculous I swore I would never go through it again. Because we were unsuccessful the first time and I was still so upset about the whole thing when Miley Cyrus came to town a yr or so later,(yes, all the "Hannah" fans were so disappointed but luckily my daughter was a fan of both the personalities of this schizo situation!)we got online the second they came for sale and scored! Just the relief of getting the damned tickets numbed me to the price I realized later I was paying for this concert that I was also going to be attending!!!! WHAT HAD I DONE? Anyway, good to hear your situation all worked out. My daughter got to attend due to one of her friends having a mom with connections. I have hung up the rat race of teenage concert ticket buying...........

  2. Thank you so much for sharing Libby!!! Marah was, blessedly, a bit young for the Hannah Montana rage but I do recall hearing a little about the frenzy!! Do we love our daughters or what??? I think I expended more energy on this than on KU tickets! (that's not true - I'm just better at maneuvering KU because I've had more practice, lol). xoxoxo

  3. I want a daughter! I think Brian's was Ozzie Osbourn. We just dropped them off and hoped for the best.

  4. Oh Sally, I cannot IMAGINE an Ozzy concert!!! Your Wild Irish Rose was very content....if they come back, we'll plan better and you can join us!

  5. Great story - thanks for sharing. first concert was Olivia Newton John...I think that comes as a close second if not trumping Barry!

  6. Haha, Kristin, my initial response is "yes". Then I went back and watched the Youtube video of Manilow in the flamenco outfit. I think he's got the edge. Leg warmers are still somewhat sexy....ruffles on a man? Not so much!!

  7. Marlys,

    I am so proud of you! We live in a world where so many parents care about their personal happiness, but would never go to such great lengths for their children. The lesson of having Marah put some "skin in the game" is every bit as important to the story, as her actually getting to see her favorite band for her first concert. By having assisted in paying for the tickets, she has some ownership that will really make this story even better when she tells it, in the years to come. Be VERY proud of your've earned it!

    As for seeing Barry wife told me her father took her to see him for her "first concert" when she was young, too! How funny! As for me, I didn't see my first concert until I was 19 and could pay for it myself, but it was Great White/Tesla in Salina, 1989! If it had been financially possible, my first concert would have been Def Leppard during their 1983 "Pyromania" tour...but it wasn't meant to be. I finally got to see them a couple years ago at Darian Lake (Amusement Park near Buffalo New York) with Poison...better late than never, huh?

    Anyway, I have really enjoyed reading your blog's, and learning something new along the way. Thanks for being willing to open your heart and share your stories!

    Best Regards,


  8. Gary, what an amazingly small world. To think that your wife's first concert experience was filled with the amazing keyboards of Barry Manilow, hah!!! I probably shouldn't laugh so much about this - he is truly an amazing writer. Tell her we are kindred spirits...and thank you for the kind words. Marah is frantically working on finding ways to replenish her piggy bank, but I think she feels it was worth it!! Take care - it's always so good to hear from you!