Chapter 6. Honey, We Want Our Tickets

Michael Mayer. So full of fire and music, no doubt.

Michael Mayer. So full of fire and music, no doubt.


Honey, We Want Our Tickets

Monday morning dawned with a wet November drizzle.  (Okay, not as good a line as ‘The sun spit morning” but you know what I mean.)  Michael Mayer was on the phone at 9 a.m. with his very gracious “You were a wonderful host” phone call.  He reminded me that we had an appointment to meet at the YIVO Institute at 11 a.m.  Do we really have to Michael?  I partied too much last night and cannot move (see: Neely O’Hara calls United Airlines).  Yes, we have to he responded.  I hated him.

How I made it into the city and up to 5th Avenue I have no idea.  Truth be known I had not slept long enough to let the impact of the previous night wear off so I’m sure I was a more than a little buzzed.  The apartment smelled of cigarettes and spilled booze so I welcomed the fresh air.  I can do this.  I can walk to the subway and get myself to YIVO.

I found myself standing in an office of the YIVO Institute.  A lady walked in.  What she looked like I could not tell you, then or now.  I did recognize her voice as that of the person I had first spoken to weeks, months ago and as recently as Saturday when she delivered the bad news.  Michael had warned me not to open my mouth.  That sounded good to me because I was not sure what would come out.  I spotted a trashcan next to her desk and kept my eyes clearly focused on it.  I was trying to determine how many seconds it would take to drop to my knees and get my head in it should the situation, and the contents of my stomach, so arose.  Standing there with my hands folded in front of me and my head on my chest I must have looked like a pallbearer working a double shift.

Now remember, Michael was doing all the talking.

“Mr. Mayer, Mr. Naughton, there seems to be a problem with your tickets.”

“Yes, I know honey.  We don’t have them and we’d like them now.”

“I am so sorry.  As I explained to Mr. Naughton we’ve oversold the premiere.  I can offer you a full refund or sit you in the MGM screening room.”

“Thank you.  We’d like our tickets for the Ziegfeld Theatre.”

“There are no tickets Mr. Mayer.”

“Honey, we want our tickets.”

“Mr. Mayer.  Please understand the position I’m in.  I do not have any tickets to give you.”

“Than why did you take our money?  I want our tickets.”

“Mr. Mayer.  I can write you a check right now for the full amount or offer you seating in the MGM screening room.”

Remember this – when in negotiations you will have to judge for yourself how much of a pause to take.  I’m not sure if Michael counted to three or not, but then –

“Honey.  My name is Menacham Mayer.”

Menacham?  When did he start calling himself Menacham?

“My parents survived Auschwitz.  I am the only son of Holocaust survivors.  I want my tickets.”

“Mr. Mayer, you are not making this any easier for me. Or yourself.  I don’t have any tickets.

What Michael told her was true, but still.  I wanted to go home.  I could hear the Kahlua sloshing around in my stomach.  He told me not to sit down and don’t open my mouth.  I would have paid big money to sit down at this very moment.

I heard Michael light a match.

“Mr. Mayer.  Please don’t smoke.

“Honey, we want our tickets.”

“Mr. Mayer.  I must ask you not to smoke.”

He lit his cigarette.

“Honey, we want our tickets.”

I could not look up.  The smoke was making my stomach turn.  I saw the match land in the trashcan.  Whatever was in there ignited.  I was dead.  I could see the headline now: “Streisand Fans Burn Down Museum Over Ticket Snub.”

“Mr. Mayer, you have started a fire –“

“Honey, I want our tickets.”

“Mr. Mayer.  My office is on fire – “

“I want our tickets.”

I heard her desk draw open and she threw something down on the desk.

“Mr. Mayer, please take your tickets and get out.”

I was sick.  I didn’t want to tarnish Barbra’s reputation with these people.  I looked down at desk.  I could begin to feel the heat of the fire.  But I saw the tickets.  Four tickets, Row E, Seats 105, 106, 107, 108.  Oh my God.  He got our tickets.

Never drink when you’re not eating.  The contents of my stomach must have taken a vote and decided they would like to leave the same way they came in.  Now normally, I would never throw-up in someone’s office but there was that raging fire in the trashcan, so I figured, what the hell, let me put out the fire.

Kahlua is a great extinguisher.

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