Ticket to Bliss by Pam Van Allen
Published in California Writers Club Literary Review 2021

My mother wouldn’t leave the bowling alley, and it was already noon. She didn’t understand it was the most important day of my life—I wanted great seating. The show started at 3:00 p.m. and the doors were already open, according to the ticket held firmly in my hand—my ticket to bliss. There was no assigned seating for this show; it was first come, first served.

     “If we don’t arrive early, I won’t be able to see their faces, even with the opera glasses Nanny gave me last Christmas.” I complained. These performers had changed my life a little over a year ago.

     Mother said I couldn’t attend the concert alone because I was only eleven years old. It would be too dangerous for a little girl to go alone, but she understood how important it was for me to be there, so she agreed to chaperone. She bought two $5 tickets for us and another for my best friend Candy. The money for mine came out of my allowance.

     Now Candy and I were antsy at the bowling alley, sweating it out while my mother finished talking to her friends before we could leave for the Houston Coliseum. We pointed at our wrists and fidgeted, but we knew better than to interrupt. Finally, she responded to our impatience and we left. A million cars blocked the streets downtown. Candy and I spent the agonizing wait in traffic discussing the relative merits of our favorite group members. Mother finally found a parking space, and we dragged her toward the venue door.

    “We have to hurry. We’ll never find good seats now.”

    Surprised that so many people had already arrived, Mother at last matched our pace. We joined the entry queue and had our tickets torn.

     I nagged her, “See, I told you we should have left earlier.” The best seats we could find were high up in the nose bleed section two-thirds of the way back.

     Ninety minutes still remained until show time. Candy and I talked about fashion, hairstyles, and our favorite songs with the other teen and pre-teen fans.

     When we thought we would all burst with anticipation, the lights went down and our idols took the stage. A deafening roar ascended from the crowd. The score board hanging from the center of the ceiling shuddered and threatened to fall on the masses below. We could barely hear the music and singing, but we were unconcerned. We were in the same cavernous room with these four people we had loved from a distance, breathing the same air. The screaming thundered throughout the twenty-five-minute spectacle.

     My mother slapped the top of my head. “Stop that screaming, or you won’t get any supper,” she shrieked over the incessant din.

     Tears streamed from my eyes at the rebuke. “You don’t understand,” I shouted, “I can’t help it. Their music expresses everything I feel.”

     Almost six decades later my memory of the Beatles in concert is as crystal-clear as if it had happened yesterday. Thanks, Mom.

also Published in From Song to Story