Friday, June 26, 2009

Arrowhead Stadium in the Summer

The kids were little. The boys maybe 5 and 7, their little sister toddling around on 3-year old legs. The annual Family Picnic was rolling around, same time, same place, same relatives. That's ok. Those aunts of mine make a wicked potato salad, well worth the trip to the other side of the county. I promised to be there.

Until I heard the announcement on the radio.
The concert was scheduled to be held three hours away in Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium. Tickets would be sold by lottery with only a certain number available for Iowa buyers. We tried. Ohhh man we tried! Sad and disappointed, the ticket lottery came and went, leaving us empty-handed. We scoured the newspapers but the scalp prices were crazy.....$300 for a pair to start out. Closer to the concert date the prices came down a bit, but not much. This was wayyyy back when and that was one huge pile of money for a concert in KC.

I caught a glimpse of the ad as I was flipping through the newspaper.

Six tickets for the Jackson concert in KC.
We'll sell them for what we paid for them.
$50 bucks each.

I called the guy and offered him everything but a gallon of my blood to hold the tickets until I could get to his front door in a neighboring town. I called my cousin. We couldn't believe it. We were on our way!!!!! A week later on a sweltering summer day I grabbed my baby sister, taped a "Don't start without us, Michael!!!" sign in the back window of the car, picked up my cousin as we sent our husbands and kids to the family reunion without us (bad bad girls!!!!) and headed down to KC.

That I somehow managed to lock the car keys AND the concert tickets into the trunk of the car in the black asphalt parking lot of the stadium later that afternoon in 100-degree temperatures is a memory that pales in comparison to that of the distance we had to climb to reach our seats in Arrowhead Stadium. I'm not sure how far up we were but I do remember passing a sign that said "Nosebleed Section" at which level the ushers were handing out oxygen bottles to those of us that still had about 23 rows left to climb. Once seated I swear to you I saw all my dead relatives float by on clouds with a wave and curious looks on their faces that said, "What the hell are you doing up here, it's not your time yet......"

Soooo what!!! We were THERE!!!!!!
From our celestial vantage point, while the rest of the crowd hummed in ignorant anticipation, we were able to see the vans pull up back stage as the Jackson brothers arrived. With the use of high-powered binoculars we could actually get a good enough look to figure out which one was Michael. He was the one little miniature person wayyyyyyyyyyy wayyyyyyyyyyy down there wearing a glove on one hand.

My cousin saw him first. She threw down the binoculars, shrieked "Michael is down there!!!!" and we all started to scream.

"How do you know!!!! How do you know it's HIM!!!???????"

We were all crying and screaming.

Lower levels of the stadium hadn't a clue but those of us up in the rafters with our scalped tickets got the first glimpse of Michael Jackson before he hit the stage on his Thriller tour in Kansas City, Missouri. It was him all right. We could see him. Well..........we could see the glove. It was him. IT WAS HIM!!!!!!

OH!!! MY!!! GOD!!!!!!!

I watched him grow up. First time I saw him was at the Iowa State Fair. He was the cute little brother of the Jackson 5. Before all the craziness. The nose. The kids. Before he wouldn't sell the Beatles tunes back to Paul. Before all the ugliness started. Who knows what was true. What were lies. Who knows what happens along the way to make a talented little boy grow up to have so many problems. He's gone and we'll never really know.

I choose to remember him just like I saw him on that sweltering summer day. He danced across the stage with his brothers in heat that had me panting for air. And I was just jumping up and down screaming. We got our $50 bucks worth, for sure.

I said you wanna be startin somethin',
You got to be startin' somethin,
Said you wanna be startin' somethin,
You got to be startin' something....

Thanks for the music.
Thanks for the great memories.


Anonymous said...

We took our son and daughter to see Michael at Arrowhead Stadium. You're right, the ticket prices seemed outrageous in those days! I also want to remember him the way he was back then. Thanks for the memories!

Megan said...

I was there as a child and must have been sitting near you because my most vivid memory of that night was watching those vans pull in back stage. What a rush. I still my have t-shirt from the concert. Something I am very pround of.

Debbie said...

Ohh I wish I had a t-shirt!!!!!
Very cool!!!!!!