How Suite It Is

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I was excited when my son James told me he had scored two tickets from a friend (thanks, Dave) for Paul McCartney at Nassau Coliseum. Although I had seen McCartney once before, in 2009 at Citi Field, you never pass on a chance to see a rock legend.

The tickets had a strange section number, “S2,” and the row indicated “SRO,” so my thought was that there was a Standing Room Only section in the newly renovated Coliseum. However, after checking every online seating chart imaginable, I was unable to locate section “S2.” As a matter of fact, I was unable to locate any area marked for standing room.

NYCB Customer Service was no help and nobody was answering the phone at the box office, so I took it upon myself to do some recon, driving to the box office in the afternoon to find out. Turns out these were VIP tickets and section “S2” was actually “Suite #2.” The realization that I was seeing Paul McCartney from a VIP Suite made me break into a “happy dance.”

Later that evening, we arrived for the show in Uniondale and were directed to the VIP parking area. With my now-VIP nose fully sticking up in the air, I entered the building with a feeling of superiority. Congestion at the concession stands? People waiting in line like cattle for the bathrooms? Maneuvering and trying to squeeze into the middle seat of the row? I’ll have none of that, thank you. My good man, can you please direct me to the private elevator with access to the Suite Level?

Ah, the rewards of royalty. A private elevator whisks you away from the peasants and into the clouds above the arena. There you are greeted by a smiling attendant who escorts you to a private suite sporting comfy chairs and a personal server. Laid out in front of you are chips, fresh vegetables and beverages. The sight lines are perfect and so is the sound. It is a totally antiseptic environment, as if you were in your living room watching a 100-foot TV screen. So, this is how the one-percenters live, eh?

The 75-year-old McCartney belted out iconic Beatles songs like “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Drive My Car,” as the crowd sang along and danced in the aisles. That’s when I noticed we weren’t having any fun. No one in our suite was jumping up and down or dancing to “Lady Madonna.” When Paul was asking everyone to sing along, only James and I were responding. Were we that far removed from the action?

And then it hit me. We were enjoying the music, but weren’t part of the live concert. The suite might be a wonderful experience for a sporting event, but it was coming up short for a Paul McCartney concert.

As McCartney was concluding the final “na-na-na-nas” of “Hey Jude,” I grabbed James and told him we were blowing this suite and heading downstairs for the encores. We grabbed a couple of cookies on the way out (did you think we were going to pass up the VIP cookies?) and trekked down to the lower concourse to mingle with the riff-raff, our riff-raff. You remember that scene in Titanic when Jack takes snobby Rose down a few decks to party with the common folks?

What a difference. People were laughing, crying, dancing and singing. We were swaying back and forth with total strangers during the “Golden Slumbers” medley, singing along with the final lyrics of the evening, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

On the way out of the arena, we observed kids dragging exhausted parents back to their cars. Like us, they were most likely dreading the impending congestion of the parking lot exits. Only we were parked in the VIP Parking area, which had a direct access lane out to freedom. Within five minutes we were on the Meadowbrook and heading home, while the riff-raff we left behind would be seeing nothing but tail-lights for the next half hour at least.

Maybe this VIP thing isn’t so bad after all?

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