I have a confession to make. I have actually fallen asleep at a concert. This is something I never thought would be admitted, but here I am, confessing one of my deepest secrets to all that will read this. It’s not a fact that I am proud of, but at the same time, I’m not ashamed of it either. More than anything, I am surprised that it occurred at all.
My wife is a huge fan of Trans Siberian Orchestra. Every holiday season we are forced to listen to their Christmas albums multiple times. And that’s not a terrible thing; it’s just that they aren’t one of my favorite bands to enjoy at Christmas time (or anytime). I don’t hate their music, there are even a couple of songs that I thoroughly enjoy, but TSO is a band that I can take or leave. And I never had the desire to see them live. That was until I needed to come up with a good surprise for my wife’s birthday.
My wife is a December baby. Those reading this that have birthdays in December know exactly what that means. However, for the rest of you, I will spell it out simply. December babies get screwed when it comes to their birthday. It’s Christmas time. It’s Hanukkah. It’s Kwanza. It’s everything except someone’s birthday. People are busy with the holiday season, decorating, hosting holiday parties, and worrying about end of the year priorities. Birthdays are an afterthought. Even in their own families, December babies get the “combo” gift (this is for your birthday AND Christmas), or they get a birthday gift wrapped in Christmas paper. It’s horrible!
I was always raised to remember that birthdays are special. It’s a magical day meant for just that person and it should not be shared with anyone or anything else---including another holiday. Therefore, I always try to make my wife’s birthday special. A real birthday card. Real birthday wrapping paper. And real birthday surprises.
In 2008, Trans Siberian Orchestra was touring once again. Their annual Winterfest. That particular year TSO was going to perform at a venue in New Jersey (the now defunct IZOD center) on my wife’s birthday. As soon as I learned that, I just knew I had to take our family to that concert so we could celebrate appropriately. It was a matinee show (the band was doing two performances on Saturday, an odd notion that I wish other bands would think about) and that was perfect for our family because my daughter was 11 years old at the time. I would prefer that she saw the early show instead of getting home after midnight.
And thus, I got us tickets and told my wife that we had a big surprise for her birthday but would say nothing more. She would have to wait until that special day to learn what was going on. On the day of her celebrated birth, my wife, daughter, and I hopped into the car with only two of us knowing where we were heading. My daughter and I had a plan and I think it worked out pretty well. As we started driving away from the house, my wife was filled with curious wonder.
“Where are we going?”
“You will see,” would be my only response.
Then about 10 minutes into the drive, my daughter played her part by announcing that she would like to hear some Christmas music.
“Okay,” I said. “I think I have some we can play.” Knowing full well that I had some, because I already had the TSO Christmas album loaded in the car’s CD player before my wife even got to the car. I hit play and the Trans Siberian Orchestra surrounded us in music.
My wife looked quizzically at me. She wanted to say something but stopped. I chuckled inside and we continued on our ride. A few moments later she finally burst out: “Wait! Are we going to see Trans Siberian Orchestra?”
When I confirmed that we were, she literally squealed with delight. It was one of the five happiest times for my wife that I remember from our marriage (so far). She was ecstatic. You would have thought that I told her she just won a million dollars. She was giddy.
And so, to the show we went. We had decent seats in the 100s section with a good view of the stage. It was also only the second or third concert that my daughter had been to, so it was a real treat for her as well, but make no mistake about it; this was my wife’s gift. And the surprise of suddenly realizing that she was at a concert she had wanted to see her entire life must have been overwhelming. She certainly had no idea her day was going to be like that when she woke up in the morning!
When the band came on stage, I thought they were decent. Like I’ve said, TSO is a band that I like but not love. I can take them or leave them. But I watched their set with unbiased eyes and ears. And I enjoyed their stage performance. I enjoyed their music. I enjoyed their antics. Then somewhere about halfway through the concert, things slowed down to a crawl. And that I didn’t enjoy so much.
So why the band was crawling through some excruciating slow number, and my wife and daughter were mesmerized by the stage performers, I found myself closing my eyes. It had been a long day for me. It had been a stressful day for me. Planning and organizing and arranging everything so that it went just right for my wife’s special day. I’m not using that as an excuse, I am just stating the facts. It was a long day and closing my eyes at that moment felt really, really good. So I closed them. And next thing I knew, I was waking up twenty minutes later when the band kicked it into high gear again.
I awoke with a jolt and looked around me. Had anyone noticed? Did anyone see that I was sleeping? Did my wife see that I was sleeping and if she did was that going to ruin her overall experience on her birthday? I quickly assessed the situation and realized that no, she had not seen me fall asleep. She was too engrossed in the show. Score one for the husband who would remain awake for the remainder of the concert.
It would be my only Trans Siberian Orchestra event. I figured if I could not stay awake for their entire show, then this clearly was not a band for me to see live. I fulfilled my wife’s desire to see them live and took her to a show on her birthday which was an extra special treat. I figured if she would like to see them again, she can go with her friends or other family members. Just count me out.
I eventually did come forth and tell my wife that I nodded off. I don’t remember if it was later that night, or another time, but I did admit to it. I told her that the concert just wasn’t for me. She, on the other hand, absolutely loved it and I think to this day it is still one of her top five concert experiences. For me it is probably a bottom five concert experience. And that’s okay. My wife and I don’t always see eye to eye on every concert. I mean, she hated Dave Matthews Band whereas I’ve seen them 21 times and counting. To each their own I suppose. And TSO is clearly not my own.