Have you ever attended an event inside a boisterous stadium and wished you had stayed home instead?
I have — more than once.
Seems no matter where I go, whether it's baseball, football, a concert, even a dog show. I can't seem to find my place.
Oh, the seats are easy to locate. Just follow the stub. You can pick your friends, but not your seating neighbors. Much like the game itself, it's the luck of the draw.
Take the time I secured two tickets to a New England Patriots game. These weren't just any seats but right there on the 50-yard line. I was ecstatic. It's one thing watching the Pats play on TV and another being there in the thick of the activity. The electricity was set to discharge.
Never mind that it took me an hour to get there. So what if I paid $50 to park my car. Had the Patriots won that day, the experience would have been better.
What killed it were the obnoxious people in back of me, spilling their beer and cursing up a storm. To make matters worse, by the time the traffic had cleared and I was on the road home, another 90 minutes had passed.
Had I watched the game from the comfort of my living room, I would have enjoyed a far better time and saved a tidy sum.
The nightmare runs parallel with a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young concert I attended at Boston Garden. Little did I know I was about to join a "pot" party. A strong odor of marijuana filtered over our seats from an audience young enough to be my children.
By the time we got out, I could have been arrested for suspicious activity. Had I gone directly to church, my reputation would have been ruined.
Being a big Boston Celtics fan, I was ready to remortgage my house after this latest episode. Friends of mine had a spare ticket for the Indiana game, so I agreed to tag along. Being the generous soul, I volunteered to spring for dinner.
We wound up at this posh restaurant in the North End and dined like true gourmands. The bill gave me indigestion but hey, what are friends for when you can't splurge a little?
The game was a disaster, however. We were in the nosebleed section, nine sections up, all stairs. Being aged racquetball players, we negotiated the obstacles with difficulty.
That night, the Celtics were playing in reverse and set a franchise low for points scored in a half (25). A tightly contested high school JV game would have provided more thrills.
The binoculars I had brought along did me little good. Seated directly in front were six rambunctious fans with green hair and who acted like circus harlequins. Up and down they jumped, hoping the camera would catch their shenanigans and flash them on the big screen above court side.
The noise was ear-splitting, certainly not for the quiet and unpretentious. Okay, so if I didn't play their game, why did I bother paying for this grief in the first place? Don't ask.
My friend was even more subdued. The guy next to him was inebriated and reeked with alcohol as he snored himself to slumber. The previous Garden encounter had security guards rushing to evict an unruly fan loaded to the gills. Even with an $8 beer, it would take a lot of moxie to draw the police.
I've been around sports all my life, both as a writer and a fan. Some of my best moments were covering high school football games from the sidelines. Or basketball activity from courtside. I loved going to our local stadium and sitting on a bench with the baseball players. Even the city hockey rink had more to offer me than a professional arena.
Being there in person may be twice the fun, but certainly not the pleasure, given the price of tickets and the rigmarole that ensues. I read in one of the Boston papers how a family of four attending a Bruins game would shell out more than $1,000 for decent seats, a modest dinner, some souvenirs and concession goodies.
I know one affluent businessman who has four prime seats to every house in the state and writes it off as a tax credit. Get this. He doesn't even go to a game because he can't stand the bother. Out of it comes happy clients.
The question arises. If someone offered me a pair of Super Bowl tickets, would I go? Even if the Patriots were playing?
I may think about it for a second, then elect to join a private party with my friends. Far cheaper and less frazzled that way.
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Photographer and writer Tom Vartabedian is retired from the Haverhill Gazette. He contributes this regular column.