Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Free Souvenirs

In four years of Journalism classes, I learned that one of the worst things you can do as a reporter is to decide what the story is about before you write it. Sure, you’re trying to make a deadline, and odds are there won’t be too many twists and turns in a local PTA meeting or a high school baseball game. But sometimes, like tonight as I write this very post, I remembered that there’s a reason why you don’t decide what the story is about before you write it: because if you’re doing it right, the story writes itself. The best thing you can do is to stay out of the way.

As I write this, I’m looking at a Yankee ticket stub from April 11, 1996.During Easter break from school, my mom took my brother, my friend Beth, and me to see the Yankees. This was the day after Opening Day, when some guy named Andy Pettitte pitched through the snow on the way to a 7-3 victory. And as any New Yorker can tell you, the weather here is fickle: the day after the Yankees opened in the snow, it was so warm at “Old” Yankee Stadium that we watched the game in t-shirts.

Now I’m looking at a Yankee ticket stub from June 11, 2003. A couple of relatives from Texas were in town for a few days over the summer and wanted to catch a Yankee game. On this particular night—and I know this because I wrote it on the back of the stub—the Houston Astros no-hit the Yankees with six pitchers, and I stuck around until the end to say that I saw such an unconventional no-hitter, even if it was against my own team.

Another ’96 stub, this one from October 20 (had to look this one up, because the stub says October 14, the day the ticket was printed I suppose): Game 1 of the World Series. After miraculously scoring a $95 Row Y ticket, I couldn’t have been more excited. The game was scheduled for Saturday night but was moved to Sunday night after a rainout. To dry off the field, they literally flew in helicopters to hover above the Stadium to dry off the grass (does this even work???). After waiting an extra day and letting the excitement brew for that much longer, I showed up just in time to watch the Atlanta Braves and 19-year-old-rookie Andruw Jones break my heart by taking the first game 12-1, behind two HRs by Jones and a foul pole dinger from Fred McGriff. I can tell you first-hand how much it sucked to be there that night, but as most Yankee fans will remember, it turned out pretty OK for us after that.

OK, so getting back to my “where is he going with this” J-school lecture in the opening paragraph.I set out to write a short, hilarious post about how annoyed I was that from now on I’ll probably buy most of my tickets from StubHub, which means I won’t have the stiff, glossy tickets with the Modell’s 15% off coupon on the back. I’ll only have a piece of paper (that I printed out at work, of course) with a barcode at the top and the StubHub URL at the bottom. But when I started to look through my box of old ticket stubs, I realized that it doesn’t really matter that what material the ticket is printed on; what matters is what you think of when you look at that ticket.

For example, I have ticket stubs from…

The Departed, 2006 – I was supposed to wait to see it with my girlfriend. I didn’t. We broke up shortly after.

No Doubt, 2000 – Lit opened for No Doubt at Jones Beach; a pre-Fergie Black Eyed Peas opened for Lit. Not. Too. Good.

The Sixth Sense, 1999 – Turns out Bruce Willis was dead the whole time. Crazy!

Fenway Park, 1995 – My mom took us when we were kids. This past Thanksgiving she showed me a picture from that vacation. In the picture, I was wearing a Red Sox souvenir t-shirt. I threw up a little in my mouth.

You get the point. Whether it’s the shiny ticket or the crappy paper printout, save your ticket stubs from concerts, movies, ballgames, plays, museums, whatever. Save plastic hotel keys from family vacations. Save matchbooks from skeevy dive bars. Keep them tucked away in a box like a time capsule, and look through them from time to time.

If you’re anything like me, you’re going to be happy you did.
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