Friday, July 25, 2008

Just the Ticket

My husband and I love the Cerritos Performing Arts Center, and we love jazz. Just before a recent concert began, a group of three people were shown their seats by the usher. They sidestepped past us to sit in the empty seats just to our left. There were two men and one woman. The woman sat between them. She looked down at her ticket stub, and then at the metal tag riveted on the arm of her chair. She stretched forward to look at the tag on the arm of the chair where the man on her right was sitting.
“Ernie,” she said. “I think I have your ticket stub.”
“It’s okay,” the man said.
“No. We can switch seats.”
“Really, it’s okay, Wanda. No one cares.”
“Well, okay, I guess.”
“But I don’t mind changing with you, really,” the Wanda woman said.
“Seriously. They don’t care. I’m sure.”
“Well, then, let’s switch ticket stubs.”
“I don’t remember where I put mine. It’s not a problem. I’m certain.”
“The usher gave each of us our stubs back.”
Ernie sighed quietly in our direction as he rocked onto one cheek, then the other, groping in his pants pockets. Unsuccessful there, he searched his side jacket pockets, left and right. Then his outside breast pocket.
“Wanda, I can’t find it. I’m sorry.”
“Look again. I know she handed it to you. Try that little pocket inside on the left.”
His fingers probed the satin lined pocket. “Nope. Not there either. Wanda, it really is okay. We can just stay where we are unless you can’t see or something.”
“No. I’m fine. I can see. Thanks.”
“Okay?” Ernie checked again.
“Okay,” Wanda said.
Ernie was a nice man. “You’re sure?”
“Excuse me, Bart,” she said tapping the shoulder of her companion on her left. “Do you have your ticket stub?”
Bart has found a woman in the row ahead of him that he went to high school with. They were wrapped in the throes of a do-you-know-what-happened-to conversation, and he turned quickly to Wanda and said, “I don’t know,” and continued talking to his high school friend, dismissing Wanda.
Turning back to poor Ernie, Wanda said, “Maybe it’s on the floor. Did you look on the floor?” With that she scooched out of her seat on hands and knees to look for the wayward ticket stub.
The theater darkened and the music started. Wanda crawled back into her seat empty handed. She sat for a few minutes, fidgeting.
“Ernie, I think we should switch,” Wanda whispered.
“Okay. But let’s make it quick.”
They switched seats. We were glad they were settled, finally.
The lead guitar had introduced his band and started into the first piece. The music played for a couple of minutes.
Wanda, now to the right of Ernie leaned forward and across him to check in again with Bart. “Psst. Bart. Did you find your ticket stub? You might be sitting in Ernie’s seat.”
Wanda continued to squirm. Ernie found his ticket at the intermission and we all breathed a sigh of relief. It was just the ticket for an easy second half of the show.
© Kathryn Atkins
July 2008

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