I bought #LLL tickets ahead of time: This is why
Richard Armitage doesn’t become “accessible” in the flesh all that often. When that rare event is about to occur, certain side effects in the fandom become immediately noticeable. I’ve watched this three times now and witnessed the apparently inevitable discussions that follow a particular pattern. So much useful information comes through Twitter, but it can be a struggle to hold on to my temper. There was a new wrinkle this time, because we could buy tickets to the play before Armitage’s participation was officially confirmed. Tactfully speaking — there was a lot of discussion about (and ostensibly on behalf of) fans who chose to buy tickets before we knew 100 percent that Armitage would participate.
I was an early buyer. No one needs to defend me. I’m an adult in full possession of my faculties, I promise. (Well, okay, it may be the case that a photo of Armitage causes my heart to beat wildly, but I think I’m in good company there.) I didn’t say anything about my choice, because I didn’t want to influence anyone with my behavior — to the point that someone DM’d me to ask what I thought about the odds it would happen since I hadn’t said. And when I did write about the play, I was careful to stress that everything we knew up till then was speculative. Risk analysis is an individual thing, and what might be a problem expenditure to one fan might be worthwhile and unproblematic to another. And the point of writing this is not to rejoice in good fortune — if you can’t go, I will be happy to commiserate with you if that is what you need — so much as it is to note how I felt and why I decided to do something so “irrational.”
Intelligence was solid on June 7 that Love, Love, Love could be a planned project, and was strengthened on June 9 when Armitage “favorited” a fan tweet. I bought my tickets on June 10, after the much-commented “like” held for a day. So I’ve been waiting patiently a whole month to see what would transpire. I can’t say that I was especially worried after that like — insofar as historically, we often didn’t hear about Armitage’s forthcoming work from the man himself, my assumption was that a “like” that held signaled his full intent to stick with a specific project, indeed, possibly a contract. It seemed to me to have a different value than his coy non-speech, deletions, and follows around Mid-Life Crisis, and once I had scouted the project, playwright, director and theater a bit more, it was easy to see why he’d want to do this play.
Once I concluded that he planned to do it and that I wanted to see it, I counted my pennies and thought about what I could afford to spend on tickets now and whether I’d be able to swing airfare, a hotel and meals when the play was confirmed, and decided yes, I could. I asked myself, could I live with the financial loss of the ticket price if I had to write it off, and decided that since the theater is a non-profit, it could be booked in my budget as a charitable contribution, so the answer was yes to that as well.
Those are the rational pieces, and they were there. But there was also the context. And the emotions.
Context: I think now that the term is over, it is okay for me to admit that my part time job this spring involved teaching. No one who teaches escapes without dealing with student issues. There are some that I’m set up to avoid (my assignments are written to make cheating difficult) and other battles I will not fight (forcing students to read). I find it goes in cycles. There are regular recurring problems with students every semester, and then there are those that occur once or twice a year, and then there are problems that are the equivalent of a hundred-year flood. And of course the issue with that kind of problem is you’re not expecting it.
Halfway through the semester, I added an accelerated adult class, figuring that although I was surviving, I could use the additional income. Promptly, I had a “hundred-year flood” situation on my hands. Besides the ongoing aggravation throughout the course, which I was unable to fix despite my best efforts and which gnawed at me for seven weeks, the situation that the student put herself in at the end of term triggered the involvement of administrators. As I said to the Dean after it burst the bounds of my control, “I walked into my first classroom in 1994 and I thought I had seen everything, but this blows my mind.” It took me literally two and a half workdays and five 500-mg aspirin to deal with the ensuing paperwork, and it was little consolation when the student took the same pointless strategy with the Dean that she had with me. She was seen through (she caused the same problem in three classes, and the fact that instructors do speak to each other meant she couldn’t triangulate in the end) and dealt with, but it took its toll.
So when the opportunity came up, it almost seemed like — a compensation. All the trouble from that student spawned the money that would pay for me to see Armitage on stage. It felt kind of that way. Like a reward for sticking that situation out to the bitter end.
But here’s the emotional part. When it came down to it, when I heard that Armitage would be on stage again, I had that visceral feeling that I had on the first night of Armitagemania, and at the first time I saw Armitage on stage in London. It doesn’t happen all that often — maybe one other time in the last eighteen months — that feeling of “I want, and this wanting makes me feel alive.” I’ve often thought, since Armitagemania, that I might have a glimpse of what it’s like for old men to fall unreasonably in love with very young women. I don’t approve of it, per se, but I am beginning to understand the impulse that drives it — and it’s not wholly sexual. It’s something about how one experiences need. That sudden need that widens the eyes, that only one thing will fulfill.
And with that — that feeling of “this is the desire that will keep me whole,” all the calculations and rational considerations were gone. I didn’t care about the risk of loss when the scent of desire was filling my nostrils. I went to the phone and booked the tickets.
That night, I said to a fellow fan who I was discussing it with: “That exhilaration that I felt when I saw him on stage in London. I’d do anything to feel that again.”
And if I had lost — well, in the end, I’d still have had the month of being reawakened by desire.