I asked all of you readers, "Care to guess what I did?" And plenty of e-mails poured in. Wrote Martin Geiger, "You kept the stub and paid the extra parking fee." Susan Cassidy, Richard Seff, and Chris Van Ness agreed. Warren Seamans put it more strongly: "You kept the ticket, of course! Any true believer would have. What is a bit of gold in comparison?" Remarked Karen Plesher, "I can't see you losing a ticket to save a couple of dollars." And Robert Armin had no doubt about my decision: "So, how much more DID you pay for parking?" was all he wrote.
However, not everyone had such a lofty opinion of my theatrical ethics. "My guess is that you handed over the stub," said Ellen S. Ward. "Your mind was already set on paying the $8." Wrote Greg Rice, "Because you already have the stub from your Broadway trip to The Lion King, you didn't need another stub from it." Elizabeth Durkee offered a variation on this theme: "Considering your feelings for The Lion King, I think you let the parking guy keep your ticket stub." Bill Downs agreed: "You turned in your stub and got the discounted parking. Not that I think you are cheap, but because it was The Lion King. For a better show, you would have saved the stub. And by the way" he added, "I keep all my ticket stubs -- and have since my first trip to New York in 1985."
He's not the only one. I was delighted to see that many of you out there are sentimental where your ticket stubs are concerned. Fred Aronowitz and Chris Van Ness keep their stubs stapled to their programs. So does Margie Esposito -- "dating back to the 1970s, when I first started attending theater. I have all these programs in six or so large rubber maid buckets. I wish I had them organized, but I have been just throwing them into the buckets, so now I'd need weeks and weeks to organize them. Maybe some day I'll try, but right now I'm too busy running to the theater almost every night. " Good for you, Margie. You've got your priorities straight!
Wrote Ellen Dweck, "I, too, have been saving my ticket stubs since the mid-'60s. Looking at them in order is tantamount to a survey course in theater economics, as one watches the admission price climb ever upwards." Ellen S. Ward revealed, "I keep a daily planner and glue my ticket stubs to the date I attended the show." Glue? This wouldn't make Warren Seamans happy, for he chided me, "Why did you use rubber cement on the LP jackets? It is one of the most damaging adhesives. Check the spot under the stub and the stub itself, and you'll see that both have been darkened irretrievably." Maryann Lopinto said, "I've saved every ticket stub -- even ones from the TV shows I used to see in New York, like To Tell the Truth, which was done at what's now Studio 54." (Hey, Maryann -- were you there the day I was an impostor on the show and pretended to be the assistant curator at the Museum of Natural History?) But Susan Cassidy isn't as sentimental as the rest of us: "I can't imagine having stubs going back to the 60s," she wrote. "I hardly have photos from the shows for which I've designed costumes!"
Simon Saltzman admitted to throwing out all of his stubs, too, but Ron Fassler is somewhere in-between. "I kept the ticket stubs from the height of my theatergoing years and stopped after the first 200 or so," he wrote. "But, oh, what a wonderful collection that first 200 comprises! I would also write on the back of the stub where I sat if I moved to another seat. And believe me, when you're attending the Saturday matinee after the Friday morning reviews of Love Is A Time of Day (a 1969 eight-performance flop), you can sit just about anywhere you want. The way I kept each stub was by first collecting the small envelopes that each theater had specially printed with its name on it. I put the stubs from each theater into each corresponding envelope, which were all put inside a small metal filing box. It's red, it's rusted -- but I've still got it. I didn't write the names of the shows on the backs of the stubs, so the next time we have a drink together, I'll bring my little red box." Great! I'm looking forward to it, Ron.
Then I heard from Jay Clark -- "not the same Jay Clark you already know, the one who sends you cookies for Christmas," he wrote, "though I'll be glad to send you some next year so you can have two friends with the same name." (Sounds good, Jay. The preferred cookie is oversized chocolate with enormous semi-sweet chocolate chunks.) Anyway, Jay Clark II wrote, "I put tickets in my scrapbook, and next to the stub, I write a little about the show. I also write in my Stubs book -- the book of theater seating plots -- by putting an 'x' on the seat I sat in. Is this going overboard?" Ted Green doesn't think so; he does the exact same thing. "It's another small way of making the memory of the theater experience stay around," he insisted.
Green also divulged, "I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who thought ticket stubs were important enough to save. But I must confess that I stopped saving them when they were no longer made by the Globe Theater Ticket Company. Once they became computerized some of the magic had gone out of them for me." Howard Marren would understand this: "Oh, how I loved the old ticket stubs! I particularly liked the white ones, which, I am sure you recall, indicated a Saturday night orchestra seat. Sometimes, they had a red stripe running diagonally across. I used to staple the stub onto the top left corner of the program. When the tickets became big and ugly, I stapled them on the inside first page, so they wouldn't obscure the picture or logo on the cover." Karen Plesher would be jealous of all us old-timers: "I'm s-o-o-o envious that you have tickets of various colors! Mine are all basically the same -- boring," she wrote. But she added, "I have many tickets that were never ripped and I actually ripped some of them myself, for when I put the whole ticket in my scrapbook, it made it seem like I didn't attend the show."
By the way, all this talk of old-world tickets reminded me of the TV commercial for the 1998 revival of The Sound of Music. A mother was telling her young daughter about the first Broadway show she ever saw -- The Sound of Music, of course -- and what a wonderful thrill it was. "And," she said to her attentive child, "my mother gave me my own ticket." In a flashback, we saw her mom doing just that -- except that the ticket bore no resemblance to the tickets that were printed from 1959 to 1963, when the original production ran on Broadway. Rather, it was one of the new monstrosities.
If we complain because the times they have a-changed, we can only imagine what's coming. Wrote Bill Downs, "We in Chicago now have, instead of a ticket stub, a full sheet of paper that we have to bring to get in the door. It's scanned and returned. After the show, we have to turn in the sheet at the garage for the discount. Somehow, I don't mind parting with a big sheet of paper." I wouldn't, either, but I did mind giving my Lion King stub to the parking attendant. In the end, I handed it over -- not because I didn't feel that I needed another souvenir of the show and I wanted to save a few bucks. There I was, heading a long line of theatergoers who were standing behind me, waiting to pay their fees and get out of there. I didn't want to hold them up, and I had already taken a five dollar bill and three ones from my wallet. So I paid the eight bucks and moved on.
[To contact Peter Filichia directly, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org]