Good tickets are rare things. This is a postulate of life. I learned it in the fifth grade when I went with 30 other Peoria traffic safety patrol boys to a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Though there were fewer than 2,000 people in the stands, we young Samaritans sat about 50 rows from the field, surrounded by empty seats. The ushers wouldn't let us move. We didn't have good tickets.
You live with this. Good tickets belong to other people for the same reasons other people have straighter drives and whiter teeth: luck, money, inheritance.
And then, the other day, I got good tickets. Or rather, my father did. But I got them for him.
In the middle of a conversation my father mentioned that he'd like to get season tickets to Chicago Blitz games. The Blitz is Chicago's entry in the United States Football League. I asked him why, and he said because he'd tried for years to get good tickets to Chicago Bears games but couldn't.
September 19, 1982
This was in late July and the Blitz was so new in town that directory assistance had no number for the team. I called the sports desk at the Chicago Tribune and somebody gave me the number the public could use to call the Blitz. I dialed the number and a woman answered.
I told her I wanted two season tickets to Blitz games. She asked me where I wanted to sit.
I asked my dad.
"Fifty-yard line," I told the lady.
"All right," she said. "What row?"
My father and I talked it over. The fifth row was too close. So was the 15th. The 40th row was too far back. The 30th just didn't feel right. How about the 21st?
"Fine," said the lady. "Two season tickets on the 50-yard line, 21st row."
She took my dad's VISA card number, and that was it.
As if to prove it was no fluke, my mother called up the Blitz two days later and added two tickets on the 50-yard line, 20th row. This arrangement would make it easy for my parents' guests to turn and shoot the breeze whenever something exciting happened. There would always be friends who would want to join her and my dad, she explained, because the tickets were so good.
O.K. It's the Blitz. It's the USFL. The whole league could go belly-up before the first game is played next spring. Or the Blitz might end up playing in a high school stadium in Gary instead of at Soldier Field.
But the 50-yard line is the 50-yard line. Life is odd. What can you say. We've got good tickets.