Back in 1989, I took my niece, Jessica, to her first Bon Jovi concert. It was not her last. Twenty-one years later, on April 7, 2010, she attended her twenty-eighth Jon Bon concert. The next night she made it twenty-nine. Thankfully, her husband, Bob, is not a jealous man!
Here is an article I wrote back in 1989 for a Minneapolis newspaper about getting tickets for Jess’ big, big day:
I am a 31-year-old suburbanite. I have a respectable job and a wonderful family. So why the hell was I standing outside with 400 teenagers in sub-zero temperatures at 7:30 in the morning a month ago Saturday?
To save the life of Jessica, my 13-year-old niece.
Actually, that may be a slight exaggeration; she told me she would die if I couldn’t get her tickets for the Bon Jovi concert last Tuesday in Bloomington. Then again, when I called her later that morning to tell her I got ’em, all she could say was, “I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die.” Go figure.
Jessica lives in Eveleth, Minnesota, you see. Up on the Iron Range. Life without Bon Jovi would not be worth living to Jessica. It goes without saying that she has purchased every Bon Jovi album and video in existence, not to mention the Bon Jovi posters that cover every wall of her bedroom and the 556 Bon Jovi photos that she has clipped from teen magazines. (Yes, she keeps count.)
That’s why, even though there was a snow emergency in effect the day before and every local radio station was urging no unnecessary travel, I braved the elements and drove to Met Center through swirling snow to get a plastic wrist bracelet for my left hand. I could not take it off, ticket sellers told me, until the following morning, when all the Bon Jovi fanatics would be lined up according to the numbers on their bracelets and then wait their turn to buy tickets.
I finally made it back to work two hours after I had left, and tried explaining to my colleagues, with all the dignity I could muster, why a purple bracelet adorned my wrist.
The next morning, I was up before six o’clock, just in case the weather was bad.; I had until 7:45 a.m. to make it to Met Center or I would forfeit my place in line. After waiting outside in the bitter cold for 15 minutes, a five-digit number was announced and we were ordered to line up numerically behind that lucky bracelet wearer.
My number placed me about 40th in line. It was my lucky day. I might be able to stave off frostbite after all, I thought.
To my surprise, I noticed that the woman in line behind me also was over the age of 19. Her name was Abby, she said. She was 40 years old and an accounting freelancer. Not your stereotypical rock ‘n’ roller, I keenly observed.
She told me she had been into country music until a year ago, when she went to a Poison concert and got hooked. “Rock ‘n’ roll helps you stay young,” she said, laughing. “The kind of energy you get at a rock ‘n’ roll concert is something you don’t pick up too many other places.” She was planning to taker her 10- and 12-year old sons to the concert, as well as her 28-year-old “rock ‘n’ roll boyfriend.”
I asked her, if necessary, was she willing to stand outside and freeze for a couple of hours in order to get tickets. “Yeah,” she said with a grin, “it’s worth it.”
As the line slowly dwindled, I heard a little voice in my head urging me to buy the maximum of six tickets. “But Jessica’s only taking three friends,” I argued back. “And besides, I’m not about to pay $37 for two more tickets.” Finally, I found myself in front of the ticket booth. “Six tickets, please,” I heard myself saying. Damn that Abby.
When I told my 9-year-old daughter, Erin, that I was taking her to the Bon Jovi concert, she got so excited that she turned all red in the face, then raced to the phone to call all her pals.
Hmmm, I wonder when Guns ‘n’ Roses is coming to town.
POSTSCRIPT: Jess’ love of Bon Jovi is legendary in our family. Five months after that first concert, Erin and I were driving to the local video store when Living On A Prayer by Bon Jovi came on. We turned the radio up and Erin ordered me to drive around for awhile so we could hear the end of the song. As I pulled up in front of the video store, the song was still blasting. Noticing that people were looking at us as they passed by, Erin got embarrassed and asked me to turn the radio down. I asked her, incredulously, “What would Jessica think if I told her that you asked me to turn down a Bon Jovi song?” Erin’s eyes grew wide. “Don’t tell Jess,” she pleaded.
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