Friday, June 08, 2007

King of Pain

"What song do you want to hear?" Diane asked as she sat down on the bleachers. She just got off work and joined me to watch Kailey's softball practice. I gave her a puzzled look, so she clarified. "Debbie's going to the Police concert tonight and she wants to know what song you want to hear. She's going to call us when they play it." I immediately began to feel sorry for myself. Here I was watching a bunch of 8 year-olds trying in vain to catch a softball while my sister-in-law was on the verge of seeing one of the greatest bands of all time in concert. Sure, I could catch them in concert when they come to Phoenix a week from Monday, but I don't have $225 for a ticket, let alone $450 for two. Someone please pity me, or send cash.

My answer was immediate: King of Pain. I love that song. It could be my theme song because, as the Battered Ham, it may very well be my destiny to be the King of Pain. Is anyone coming to my pity party? If so, bring cash. Debbie called a little while later and I told her my song of choice. "I want to hear that one too!" she cried. She was way too excited, but who could blame her? She also offered to buy me a T-shirt, which was very cool of her. Life was getting better.

So we finished watching Kailey's practice, went home, fixed a little dinner, chucked the girls in the tub, and got them to bed. By the time we finished the nightly routine, it was already a quarter to ten. And all the while I waited for the phone to ring. Diane and I crashed in front of the TV and decompressed. At 10:30 the phone rang. The caller ID verified that this was the call I had been waiting for. I pressed the "Hands Free" button on the receiver and we were met with a wall of sound, mostly screaming people. The screaming eventually subsided and we could clearly hear Sting's vocals along with Andy's guitar riffs. But I never heard a drum beat or a bass line. It didn't matter. It was still awesome.

As we were listening, Debbie shouted into the phone, "This is their second encore!" They followed King of Pain with So Lonely, from their first album, then left the stage. Or so I heard. Several times during the second and third encore, Debbie and her friends would engage in a discussion on whether or not we were still listening. "Are they still there? I don't know. I think they're still there! Are you guys still there?" Like they could even hear us if we answered in the affirmative.

The arena went nuts when The Police began their third encore with Every Breath You Take and they ended the concert with Next to You, also from their first album. I think Diane was getting tired of listening to the garbled music through the speakerphone, but I didn't care. I know it's pathetic, but I just couldn't bring myself to hang up on The Police. They finished their song and Sting gave his last, "thanksforcominggodblessyougoodnight!" and Debbie confirmed the end of the concert with, "That's it". We talked for a couple of minutes and I thanked her for letting us listen in as well as for the T-shirt. Then we hung up and our vicarious Police experience through my sister-in-law's cell phone was over. The silence was deafening.

Tomorrow morning I'm dragging my guitar downtown, setting up shop on a street corner, and raising a little concert money. For now, enjoy The Police live from Vancouver.

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