Anyone who knows me knows that I hate to fly.
Taking off is sweaty-handed bad, bouncing around is another-little-bottle-of-gin awful, but landing is simply dry-mouth terrifying.
You're cruising along hour after hour with a loud roar in your ears and, suddenly, everything gets quiet. You feel as though you've lost total control — as if you ever had it — and the plane doesn't feel as though it's moving. All you can do is look out the window, watch the ground getting closer and hope for the best.
That's sort of the way I felt Wednesday morning, as my son and I tried to get good seats for the U2 concert in the special online presale for the Oct. 9 show in Tampa. He was in Salt Lake City, I was in Hudson and we were chatting on the phone as we waited for the clock to strike 10 a.m. EST and we could click onto the Web site and start scrambling to see who could get the best seats.
We had discussed our strategy for hours on Tuesday night: get on the site, put in our special codes for dues-paying U2 club members only, put the index finger over the "enter" button, and wait for the clock to tick down.
Neither one of us had slept well Tuesday night. It was like when you know you have to be at an important destination at a precise time, and you keep worrying about traffic jams (in this case, online traffic jams) or accidents or, worst of all, oversleeping and missing out altogether. We'd both been up since before daylight (him waaay before daylight, as Utah is two hours behind Tampa), and we were both almost too distracted to talk as we waited for the big mo.
Anyone who is, say, a Deadhead or a follower of the Boss ("Bruuuuuuuuuu...") can understand our devotion to U2. It's like NASCAR people who love Jeff Gordon or Little E. It's like Cheeseheads and their Packers. It's like Bucs fans and, well, Tony Dungy.
We just love 'em.
My son followed the band around Europe for more than two years when he backpacked all over Europe and went to college in Denmark and Austria in 1984-86. One of his favorite stories is the time he went to a U2 concert in an open field in Sweden in 1984, when everyone stayed too late to ride the train back to town and had to walk miles and miles, singing U2 songs all the way.
Listening to U2 back in the States made me feel closer to him. And, as we backpacked through Europe together in 1987, we both listened to U2 on our Walkmans, especially during a harrowing trip through the Dolomite Mountains in Italy when the train brakes overheated moments before we entered a long tunnel. When I hear The Electric Company, I can almost feel the swaying of that train hurtling along to get through that tunnel. Turning up the volume helped drown out the fear.
October takes me back to the tiny table on the sidewalk by the Duomo in Florence where we ate real Italian pizza and drank real Italian wine in celebration of finding two photo LPs of a bootlegged U2 concert.
In the summer of 2001, we listened to bootleg U2 CDs as we drove from Amsterdam to Copenhagen for a U2 concert.
My son named his business Elevation Furniture Sales (Motto: "We'll elevate your sales") in honor of the U2 song of the same name.
The only time I ever doubted my son's sanity was the time his friend Chris had front row seats — front row! — for a U2 concert in Dallas, and my son decided to stay at Texas A & M to take a big test in economics instead of going to the concert. Hey, kid, where are your priorities?
So on Wednesday morning, when neither of our computers could get onto the U2 Web site, it was almost like seeing flames shoot from the engine outside my airplane window. Would we end up in the nosebleed section or behind an oversized speaker on the stage? Or standing for five hours on the Raymond James field with other general admission people? (Sorry, but I'm flat too old for that kind of stuff.)
The telephone wire crackled with tension as we frantically tap, tap, tapped.
Then a rescue, in the form of my boy's beautiful, brilliant wife, who logged on her computer, touched a few buttons and got us eighth-row seats (eye level, my friends) right beside the stage.
I knew he married that woman for a good reason.