Let me just say: I love Christmas! I am talking about Christmas as early as April if that is any indication. I am the person that welcomes the 24 hour/7 days a week Christmas music format on the radio and this is coming from someone who sings Christmas carols near nearly every day in December.
In 2011, my family and I spent Christmastime in New York City. Armed with my Maison du Chocolat hot chocolate, we embraced the chill outside and enjoyed all the typical tourist sites and the special holiday festivities like admiring the Christmas shop windows at Lord and Taylor.
We rang in 2012 in Times Square and left New Years Day open to sleep in, relax, and ease into the day. We had seen the musical Memphis and Woody Allen’s play Relatively Speaking earlier in the week but there was one musical that I had my heart set on: Book of Mormon. It had opened in March and had established itself as a smash hit. I had tried to get tickets months before we left for our trip but performances were either sold out or the tickets that were available would cost more than my roundtrip airfare.
My theater friend who had studied at NYU suggested looking up the theater’s lottery policy. Since we had no plans for the day, I figured I might as well wake up early and try my luck. To the subway I went and arrived at Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theater around 8:30 in the morning. I was thrilled to see there were so few people at the theater and a spark of hope was lit as I wrote my name down and put it in the barrel. The guy running the show told me to go grab breakfast and come back at 10:00 am when they would draw the winning names.
I walked away with a skip in my step at the thought of winning. They would be drawing 10 names and each of those people could purchase 2 tickets at $32 each. With the amount of people I had seen, I figured my chances were pretty good! Fast forward to 9:55 am when I headed back to the theater and was met by a mob. It was as though all of New York had descended on this one theater. What was a group of maybe 50 people had grown to several hundred in the time it took me to grab a bagel and chai. The street was blocked with people, cabs were honking to get around the mob, and just like that, I thought it was over.
With a bullhorn in hand, the theater manager stood up on a chair and explained the situation. “You should have only entered once… If your name gets called and we find that you entered multiple times, you will be unable to purchase tickets… You must be present when your name is called….”
And thus it began. I have never heard such a large group of people quiet themselves so quickly. He called the first name. Rick from Georgia. Then another. A lady from Pennsylvania. And another. And another. I only had 10 chances to win this thing and they were dwindling with each name called. He was on the 9th name when he said, “This person is from California.” I thought to myself. “YES…! I’m from California!” Then he paused for a moment and said, “This person has impeccable handwriting.” I couldn’t contain myself! YES! I jumped up and down knowing that everyone comments on my handwriting saying it looks just as though it is typewritten. From the bullhorn came the name “Stephanie Davies!” I WON!!!!! I literally screamed with joy. I can only imagine what it would be like to win millions of dollars!
I nudged my way through the crowd and made my way up to the front of the theater where I was brought into the box office with the other lottery winners. We presented our ID at the ticket window and I gladly handed over my $64. When I looked at the tickets, I got another amazing surprise. FRONT ROW, CENTER SEATS! What a dream!
I walked outside to call my sister to tell her the good news. The crowd had disappeared and I was about to dial when a man approached me. “I’ll give you $600 for your tickets.” All of a sudden there was a price on the joy I was experiencing. I thought it through. “That is a lot of money… yea, I could use that… wait, this is the one show I really wanted to see and I just won the lottery… I just spent a lot of money on Christmas gifts so that would help…”
I looked up and with a smile said “No, thank you.” The happiness of winning the tickets combined with the hysterical performance I was treated to that afternoon will remain a priceless memory forever.
“Where words fail, music speaks.”