As throngs of fans make their way to Gillette Stadium this weekend for Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour, I will be among them. But I’m not as excited about it as my kids are: After spending $900 for two tickets, my seat to the Sunday show will be alone in my car, in the parking lot.
Let me explain.
By now everyone has heard what a debacle it was to get tickets, with unprecedented demand crashing the Ticketmaster website and leaving teenagers everywhere crying — or rejoicing — in the aftermath. Cue the wrath of her fans, so-called Swifties who follow her every move with cult-like devotion, who didn’t settle for posting “it’s you, you’re the problem” memes directed at the ticket seller but instead picketed outside Congress and launched class-action lawsuits. Hey, I get it. I tried to get tickets, too. All of this just felt personal.
At the height of the pandemic, my daughter Meredith asked if we could buy tickets to Swift’s next tour. In my homeschooling haze, I instantly said yes. People were Clorox-wiping their groceries; there was no way Taylor Swift was even going outside soon, never mind scheduling a show near us.
But the thing about kids? They remember.
And the thing about Taylor Swift? She’s a marketing genius. Mere human parents are left powerless against her pull on fans. (Even Prince William, the man who is one actual breath away from becoming the king of 15 countries, admits to following her around “like a puppy” when they met.) She sings about a cardigan, and a replica of the one she wears in the video shows up for $49 — and promptly sells out — on her website (buyer beware: our buttons fell off). She’s not releasing any new music for a while? No worries, you can still spend your money on new recordings of old albums. Wait, there is a new record now, Midnights. Be sure to get it with the four different cover designs (so that’s 4 times $29.99 for each vinyl album, if you’re keeping track), because then you can put the four covers together and they form the face of a clock. It all makes me wonder: If I were to play the records backward, would I hear a faint voice in the background saying, “Buy my merch”?
Fast-forward three years — after the daily cajoling of my daughter saying “But you promised” and “I’m going to be the one who picks your nursing home someday” — and the day of the presale arrived. This was for all the marbles. Both kids begged, unsuccessfully, to skip school, convinced at the advanced age of 45 I have too little understanding of the way the Web works to succeed on my own. Extra surly, even for teenagers, and sure I would fail, they left me armed with a verified fan code and a “boost” from Ticketmaster, which we assumed was essentially a front-of-the-line pass in exchange for buying official Taylor merch. I earned this, I thought.
And yet, fail I did.
First came the tears — theirs, not mine — and a solemn vow from my 14-year-old to dedicate her life to pursuing a career in Congress, with the singular ambition of taking down Ticketmaster.
And then, the e-mail.
It felt a lot like a scam, with the subject line: “TODAY ONLY! Opportunity for you.” Purporting to be from Ticketmaster, it said Meredith had been identified as having received a boost, but not buying tickets. “We apologize for the difficulties you may have experienced, and have been asked by Taylor’s team to create this additional opportunity for you to purchase tickets.”
Essentially, it asked for a blanket authorization to charge my credit card at any time for a maximum of two tickets, if there were any still available for the show we had selected. The higher the price range, the better the chances of getting tickets. Send your credit card info today, it directed. It sounded about as authentic as a Nigerian prince who just can’t wait to share all of his lottery winnings with you. So, of course, I responded with all of the personal information requested.
We needed three tickets — I wasn’t about to let two teenagers go to Gillette on their own — but I didn’t worry, sure this wouldn’t work anyway. And I remained convinced, until a charge from Ticketmaster, roughly equivalent to the amount I just spent to put four new tires on my Accord, showed up on my American Express card.
I expected my children to celebrate me; perhaps with a bath of diamonds, reminiscent of the one Taylor herself lounges in in the “Look What You Made Me Do” video. But instead, pandemonium of another sort erupted in our house — Taylor Swift has a cat named Meredith; did that mean Meredith should don a full-body cat costume for the event, Met Gala-style? Wait, what about wearing white dresses covered in fake blood to mimic lyrics of a song about a blood-stained gown, my kids asked? I had to nix both ideas, because I’m a good mother.
Clearly, it was a foregone conclusion: They were both going to the concert. How could I pick one child over the other? But how could I let them go alone? I had visions of 17-year-old Cassidy playing beer pong in the parking lot, in a crowd of 60,000 strangers. The whole idea of going to the show made them exuberant, and me a mess; soon I was texting them the link to a CNN graphic showing how far you should safely be able to raise your arms to avoid being crushed in a crowd.
But it was decided: They would both go, with me driving and waiting there the whole time, and occasionally FaceTiming them in their seats. I’m ready for it. Maybe I’ll bring Meredith’s Taylor Swift coloring book and Red album-themed playing cards to keep me busy. Just like her “22″ song lyric I’ve had to listen to no less than a million times, it “feels like one of those nights/ we won’t be sleeping.”
And Taylor, if you happen past the parking lot, I’d appreciate some new buttons for our cardigans.
Carrie Simonelli can be reached at email@example.com.