December 16, 2018

How I ended up spending New Year’s Eve with Elton John

Let me start by saying that, as a religious Jewish person, I view Rosh Hashanah as the new year, not the day that commemorates the bris of one member of the tribe about 2,000 years ago. Having said that, that other day, commonly known as New Year’s, is widely celebrated and often involves a fair amount of fun and silliness, of which I am a fan. Therefore, I have, over the years, celebrated this event just a little. The celebration has involved nothing more than an occasional party thrown by friends, sedate affairs sans booze. In recent years, it has most likely involved watching TV coverage of those insane people at Times Square and the dropping of the ball, if I’m still up by then. The cause for celebration here includes not only the beginning of a new calendar year, but the fact that I am not freezing my tuchus off like the aforementioned insane people. Also, last year, for the first time, I wore funny looking New Year’s glasses. And flourescent ears.

“>Barclays Center. The fact that the concert was being given on New Year’s Eve was not what sparked my interest. Rather, it was the fact that I like Elton John and had not been to a live concert since college. Also, the fact that the concert would take place on New Year’s Eve meant that I wouldn’t have to go to work the next morning. So I uncharacteristically bought the tickets on the spur of the moment, only telling my husband after the fact.

My husband doesn’t dislike Elton, a fellow Englishman, but he’s not as big a fan as I am. O.k., the only Elton song he really likes is “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” Which meant, of course, that he was going to try to leverage my purchase of the tickets and his accompanying me to the concert into “favors” for which I would “owe” him. This strategy has lost a lot of its power in our three year marriage since, during the marriage, he has claimed that I owe him for merely being in it and breathing. I respectfully disagree. Especially the part about breathing.

As the time for the concert grew near, I told my co-workers about it. Some were positive. “The Barclays Center?” said Myrna. (All names of individuals quoted have been changed to protect me.) “I hear you can get ‘our people’s’ food there, like brisket.” I wasn’t sure that I wanted to eat brisket in a little seat zillions of feet in the air and squashed among thousands of people, but I thought it was nice that I had the option.

Then Sonya weighed in.

“The Barclays Center?” she said. “If you’re in the nosebleed section,”

As opposed to…? I wondered,

“make sure not to do any partying before you go. You’re really going to need your balance.”

“Partying?” I chuckled. “All I’m going to drink before the concert is a diet coke. Will that be o.k.?”

“Depends on how well you handle caffeine,” said Sonya, switching to her “>Meditation Room at Barclays.”

That’s right. There’s a place to meditate in a stadium where people pay big bucks to see noisy shows with thousands of other people.

“You want to meditate before an Elton John concert?”

“No,” I said. “I want to make fun of other people who want to meditate before an Elton John concert. You see, it’s ironic -”

“Yeah, yeah. It’s almost 7:30 now. Come on.”

When we got to Barclays, I had trouble finding the entrance that would take us to the Meditation Room, and looking for it was not an appealing proposition. Frankly, it was so cold that by the time we got in through the main entrance, I was just happy to be able to have my privacy and body violated by security guards in the comfort of a heated lobby. As I expected, the security check was quick, and we were over an hour early. Although I had given up on finding the Meditation Room, I still wanted to investigate the brisket. Spotting a couple of yarmulke-wearers, I followed them to an eatery called David's K Deli, with a “kof k” kosher certification.

“>televised on Seacrest’s ““>Ryan Seacrest 2015.” Elton then started a rendition of “I’m Still Standing,” and invited the audience to join him, something I’d been doing the whole time anyway, much to the chagrin of the couple sitting next to me. The way I saw it, that was part of what I paid for when I bought my ticket, even if it wasn’t what the couple next to me paid for when they bought theirs. Also, Elton’s songs were the last ones I’d learned the lyrics to in 20 years, so I wasn’t about to let all that brain power go to waste.

Finally, Elton sang “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” as his closing song, and “The Bitch is Back” as the encore. I won’t tell you my husband had to say about that. When we got to the subway station at 1:30am, it was mobbed. There were long lines of people in front of every turnstile, and a stream of people just walking through the gates, with a police officer looking on. I don’t know if he wasn’t stopping anyone because of an official slowdown or because it just would have been too much of a hassle to do so.

While waiting for our train, we heard an announcement that it would arrive on a different track than usual.

“I wonder why,” my husband said aloud.

The woman next us said “that’s the local track. After midnight, it only goes local.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” my husband asked me.

“I didn’t know.”

“How could you not know that? You’ve lived in this city for 30-odd years.”

“Very odd. Especially the last three,” I muttered under my breath.

When our train finally came, I was happy to see that Sonya had been wrong about the subway. Everyone on the train was perfectly well-behaved. In fact, almost no one was even wearing funny glasses. Almost.