Fifteen tickets to Real Salt Lake vs. the Portland Timbers. Precious because they are in the (y'all ready for this?) Chevron corporate box. They were a donation to Adult Education, so my colleague Ray M. and I spent a lot of time considering the fairest way to distribute the tickets among 140 students (Perfect attendance? For how many months? One ticket per student? Or two? What if someone with great attendance is not a soccer fan? How do we impress upon them that the seats are valuable, and that they should only accept them if they are really going to attend? How do we make sure the students know where they're headed, where to park, etc....?)
I parked in my family's customary place and walked to the stadium, feeling very odd. Prior to separating from Si, this was something we did as a family every couple of weeks. I haven't been to a soccer match since I moved out in June. I hate to say that I miss it, but I do. Today, I parked only a few feet away from Simon's truck: he had picked up the kids from my place and brought them to the match himself. I walked to the stadium alone. No kids to hustle along; no hidden snacks; no big bag of blankets.
I ran in to a couple of students just outside security, hesitating over whether they could bring in food. Sorry, guys, but no. Carlos took his Subway sandwich back to the car; his wife Maria and I went on ahead to find the box. She hadn't really understood what the big deal was until we were headed into the the area and I pointed to the stairs up to the fourth level. "Oh! Really!" There is an additional ticket checker at the foot of the stairs, to make sure you have a reason to be going up there. She looked at us and our tickets with some scepticism, then lifted her eyebrows: "Ah! Yes, go on up these stairs." Maria heard the tone of surprise as well: me mimicked her in whispers as we scampered up the stairs, squeezing each other's arms. (By the way, I saw folks in the other boxes and no one was dressed up or fancy looking... Maybe there's just something about me that says, "One of the peasants.") We made our way to Suite B. Posh! It's like a very snazzy living room with a kitchen area, a fridge, a sofa and a big-screen TV. There's a bar overlooking the field, and bar stools where you can sit to look out. Then you can step outside to the stadium seating, which is cushy and padded, not the usual hard plastic seats like the rest of the stadium.
The server for the suite introduced herself to me, and I was totally up-front about the fact that I know nothing of box-seat etiquette. Menu service? Drinks? Can we bring in beer? What does everything cost? Simon had told me that there is generally free food, or at least vouchers for the concession stands included in the ticket price. Not so for us. We could go to the stands and pay concession prices, or we could simply ring for service and she would bring us whatever our hearts desire... for a lot more than concession prices. I never eat or drink when I go to a soccer match, 'cause every thing's so damned expensive, so I wasn't too disappointed at the lack of free goodies. I explained to the students, "Everything costs money."