by: Paul Gutkowski
Across the Margin’s holiday tribute continues with proof that miracles come in all shapes and sizes….
We sat in a shitty midtown Irish pub. Irish Rover? Irish Times? Didn’t matter. They were all the same that night. Every bar and pub in a ten block radius of the Garden was teeming with folks falling somewhere on the Phish fan spectrum. From heady mamas to hedge-funders who hoard away old DAT collections, they were all represented. It was early December and the place was all dolled up in Christmas regalia. Jeremy and I sat in a booth slugging whiskey.
“My cousin Mark is gonna meet us.”
“The Amhashador?” Jeremy asked.
“Yeah man. Should be here any minute. “
On cue he walked in. All beard and smiles. He gave Jeremy and I each a hug that conveyed his absolute faith in humanity.
He settled into the booth and we ordered another round.
“I can’t stay too long. Gotta meet my friend at Brother Jimmy’s. She’s got my ticket.”
“No sweat man. We’ll have a few pops and then we can meet back up inside.”
The next several rounds flew by. More whiskey. A round of Guinness for the table. The conversation flowed with ease. All of us charged up on that perfect mixture of booze and preshow anticipation.
“Should you split man? It’s getting close to show time,” I asked Mark as we ordered another round.
“I’m good,” he grinned widely. “I’ll work it out.”
Classic McNulty I thought to myself. The whole fucking McNulty family was infamous for their nonchalance. They were all Irish charm and wit and warmth, but exacting they were not. My father coined the term “McNulty Plan” to describe their often convoluted and ill-conceived plans. Plans that were nearly impossible to complete and were always developed to please as many people as possible.
“Shit, its just about go time,” Jeremy said to the table as he waved to the waitress for the bill.
“Mark, you never got up with your friend, what the fuck are you going to do?”
“Its cool, I’ve used this service entrance before. It pretty much works every time.”
Jeremy and I exchanged a worried look while throwing on our coats for the short walk across the street.
“Alright man, if you say so.”
We set out into the burning wind, immediately trapped in a shit-show of mankind.
We shuffled along 8th Avenue following the curvature of MSG. As we passed the entrance for Penn Station the Amhashador darted away from Jeremy and I and made it for a set of double doors. He never came within ten feet of the service entrance before being jammed up by two massive security guards. Defeated, he retreated back into the cattle heard and found Jeremy and I.
“No dice!” he yelled over the growing murmur of the crowd.
“Yeah, saw that. So um, we’re starting to get close to the entrance man. This doesn’t look to hot.”
“No way man. Keep the faith Paul!!”
This kid is fucking high and delusional, I thought to myself as we entered the famous corridor leading into the Garden.
“Alright, here is what we do,” Mark started as we cleared security and made our way into the exterior concourse. “My buddy told me that LiveNation tickets stay active for 5 seconds after they are scanned, so all you have to do is slide back your ticket to me after you get in.”
“I don’t know Mark. That sounds like complete bullshit. Worst case with that is we both get shut out.”
“Dude, it will work man,” Mark pleaded.
We were in the shit now. Thousands of bodies crammed together, bottle-necking towards the turn styles.
Jeremy turned, truly acknowledging the situation for the very first time.
“Does he really not have a ticket?” he asked with mild annoyance.
“Yeah man, this shit is real,” I replied.
“Jesus,” Jeremy lamented with genuine frustration.
He sized up the Amhashador, who is by no measure a large man. We were about ten people away from Judgment Day.
“GET IN!” Jeremy barked as he opened his large puffy down coat.
The Amhashador, moved to action by Jeremy’s confident tone, submerged himself within the coat and shimmied up the giant redhead’s back, clinging himself to Jeremy.
Those around took notice.
“It’ll never work,” offered some realist to the left.
“Do it!” from a dreamer on our right flank.
With the ticket-taker at arms length and the Amhashador wrapped around him like a baby tree sloth, Jeremy pulled from his pocket his ticket.
I siddled up close to the entangled pair and the moment the scanner beeped, and Jeremy leaned into the turn-style, I gave them a strong shoulder shove through the gate. The bleary-eyed ticket-taker didn’t flinch as Jeremy stumbled forward several steps until the Amhashador, like a cat from a tree, fell to the earth. He quickly popped up to his feet and turned back in exult to the surging crowd.
THE PLACE WENT BANANAS.
The Amhashador, all beard and smiles once again, knew he could not revel in this triumph too long. Like a boner in boxers he was out with a mad dash up the escalators.
Jeremy and I laughed the entire way to our seats.
The author with The Amhashador, on this fateful evening…