Off the Record

This is a completely true story.


1. .

                It was a normal Saturday morning. The concert was in the back of my mind, as it had frequently been since I’d first heard about it. I’d twice tried to win tickets from Q102 Philly, to no avail. I knew my mom’s concerns about going, which are always the same-money and driving. I didn’t want to bother her by repeatedly asking if we would be going. It wouldn’t get me anywhere anyway. Besides, perhaps, making her frustrated with me.

                I laid around for part of the morning, before grabbing some random clothes and getting ready for the day. As my mom and I drove around looking for yard sales, I casually mentioned the concert. She didn’t know if we’d be going. As I said, I knew her concerns, but we decided we should leave by four if we happened to go.

                It was on my mind as we grocery shopped later. I mentioned to her there were only three dates. Ever. We could go today, or we could drive to Delaware the next day, or we’d not get to go at all. She hadn’t realized that.

                I spent what was left of the early afternoon in my room, reading and spending time online. When 3:30 rolled around, I knew it was time to prod her again. If I didn’t ask her to decide, there would be no decision. It would grow to be too late, and then we definitely wouldn’t be going.

                I cautiously crept out of my room and sat at the top of the stairs. I called for my mom, who I knew was downstairs. There was no answer. I could hear her talking and wondered if she was on the phone. I finally realized she was in the living room, talking to my dad. I called to her once more when she’d stopped talking and she finally answered, standing at the bottom of the steps.

                “What’s up?” she asked.

                “Are we going?” I asked. “It’s 3:30. We really need to decide.”

                “The tickets are sold out,” she told me.

                No! This couldn’t be the way things ended! “What?” I questioned. “Are you sure?”

                “I checked to see if we could get seats separately even, and it says there’s none available.”

                This couldn’t be happening. Sadly, I expressed my disappointed feelings to her.

                “But you love that I do things at the last minute,” she reasoned.

                “Not when it means we don’t get tickets,” I replied. “What about tickets for tomorrow?” I asked, grabbing at a last hope.

                “I don’t know,” she said. “I can’t figure it out.”

                Well, that was good news. I’d go down and search for tickets myself.

                “Is anybody selling tickets?” I asked as she sat down at the computer and I sat on the piano bench not far behind her. She looked on eBay, finding we could drive to New Jersey and pick some up. That wasn’t acceptable. We didn’t have time. I needed to do this myself.

                 She relinquished the computer and went upstairs, and I immediately started searching. StubHub had tickets! I couldn’t get my hopes up yet, though. I still had to get her to agree to buy them.

                “That’s cheaper than the other website,” she said when I’d called her back down to check it out.

                I appeared to wait patiently nearby on the couch, reading Persuasion by Jane Austen, but really I was rather impatient. I wanted to go quite badly. I heard the clicking of the keyboard as my mother’s fingers hit the keys, filling out the information needed to buy the tickets I could only hope. I tried very hard to stay focused on my book until, finally, she told me, “It’s processing.”

                She printed directions from google, to and from the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA. A few minutes later, it was still processing. I was a little worried we weren’t going to be able to get the tickets after all. She wanted my advice, so I hesitantly suggested she refresh the page, worried it would lose our information and we’d forfeit our seats because of a silly internet problem.

                Fortunately, the information went through. All she had to was click one button, and the tickets would be ours! With her hand on the mouse, she let out a long “eh” of desperate indecision that was almost a squeal. I waited anxiously for her to click the button, no longer pretending to be engrossed in my book.

                The money aspect was rationalized by the fact that-besides a few last minute things-I’d basically finished my last year of school a few days earlier. She always liked to do something special with us at the end of the school year, but this one was a big deal since I was graduating. Plus, she felt I did quite a lot for her and she felt bad she didn’t give me an allowance of some sort.

                Her problem at this point surely was she was having flashbacks to last summer when we’d drove through Philly to get to New Jersey, her, me, and my little brother Asher. She’d been very upset. The traffic had been admittedly awful. The drive had taken longer than estimated and we’d taken many wrong turns. We’d never been there before so the aforementioned problems caused a whole lot of stress, problems, and frustration because we had no idea where we were going.

Also, we were very late for the reason we’d gone to New Jersey in the first place. So late, in fact, that we’d missed the event all together. She’d done all that traumatic driving for nothing. She’d said she’d never drive there again. The Keswick Theatre wasn’t in the same place, but we had no idea how much of the same route as our New Jersey expedition we’d have to take to get to Glenside.

                It was four by now. We really needed to decide and leave if we wanted to go. So she clicked the button. She was still worried about driving, though. “Well we certainly have to go now,” I told her. She’d already bought the tickets. There was no turning back.

                “Get ready,” she told me.

                We both dashed upstairs. I brushed my teeth and applied more deodorant as she touched up her makeup. We were doing this. By the time she was ready, it was about 4:30. We really needed to go!

                My mother complained of what I was making her do as we were going out the door. “But I never ask you to drive without sitting in the passenger seat,” I told her. She made fun of me for the way I worded it. “You know what I meant,” I complained.

I entered the address of The Keswick Theatre in the GPS as extra help as my mom pulled away from our house. We prayed, then I put on Emblem3-a punk rock, turned reggae, turned nonconformist band disguising as a pop boy band-to lift her spirits and keep her mind off the driving she’d be doing.

                We took the scenic, country road route-telling the GPS to give us the directions with the least use of freeways. It was only supposed to take four extra minutes anyway. So far, it was the same way we’d taken to get to Philly, but this was the peaceful part. We chatted about how beautiful it was and talked about remembering this place and that as we sang along to the upbeat music playing through the speakers. It was a beautiful day and we had the air conditioner on to keep us cool. It was perfect temperatures, inside and out.

                We drove through cute, cozy little towns with pretty strung lights on the buildings. One had a sign boasting of a summer “tyme” festival, explaining the people crowding the little restaurants and buildings.

                It wasn’t long before my mom realized she’d forgotten to bring coffee. She insisted she needed coffee. I reminded her that we’d stopped at a Wawa on the way to New Jersey. We were supposed to be going by it again.

According to the GPS-that we affectionately call Maggie-we were supposed to arrive at the Keswick Theatre in plenty of time, so we did stop at that Wawa. She went to the bathroom as I searched in vain for Jimmy Fallon’s Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor, Late Night Snack. When she found me in the aisle, I nearly jumped out of my skin. We each got a coffee before starting up our journey again.

As the “highway” approached, my mom became more and more worried. But guess what. When we got there, the “highway” wasn’t a highway at all. We were only on it for like a tenth of a mile. Then we drove maybe another 30 seconds and we were there!

We laughed at how worried she’d been, all for nothing, as we pulled into the parking lot behind the theater. The drive was so nice! We’d gotten there about a half an hour before Maggie said we would and we’d even stopped at Wawa!

The town was adorable. I was tempted to walk around first, but my mom thought it better to wait in line. The doors would be opening in half an hour. The line was barely snaked to the next building. The Theatre itself was an old movie theatre, turned gig venue. The street it was on and the street off of it looked like a movie set!

My mom got a call from my aunt so I weaved in and out of my thoughts and listening to both my mom’s conversation and the conversations around me. All the girls were gossiping about the boys we’d come to see, which was what I was expecting.

The doors were opened late, but it didn’t matter to me. I’d waited longer for the same boys before. If you counted how long I’d been a fan before I got to go to a concert, I’d waited much, much longer. The only thing that mattered to me was I was there. There was an unbreakable promise that no matter what time, I’d get to see those boys tonight.

The doors finally opened, and we followed a crowd into the most adorable theatre I’ve ever seen. It was one of those old-fashioned movie theatres, the ones with the triangular sign over the doors telling you what movies were playing.

Inside, there were stands offering merchandise, popsicles, food, drinks. Two elegant staircases connected in one room, leading two opposite ways. We bought water bottles and headed up the one on the left, leading to the bathroom.

The staircases were directly across from the Theatre itself, where the show would be held. We were pleased to find our seats were the very best we could ask for in the cheapest section. There was a small isle interrupting the better seats and the cheap seats, making those at the front of the cheap stand out (at least that’s what I thought). We had the privilege of not only getting the front isle of the cheap seats, but I was sat at the corner very closest to the stage in our section. I would be in a perfect line of vision for them.

The seats themselves scared me at first-I later found out I wasn’t the only one. I was disappointed to find how straight the seats were. This would make things very uncomfortable. I shifted around, trying to get comfortable, when suddenly the seat itself shifted, too. I was very surprised as the bottom slid forward while the back slid back. It was much more comfortable, though.

They were late starting the show, too. It was a few minutes after eight when an announcer read through the theatre’s rules-no flash photography, blah, blah, blah.

Kevin came out first. He introduced himself-in case we needed it and weren’t all here because we were in love with the Jonas Brothers (Well, not everyone there was in love with them. I learned that later, too, to my frustration.) Joe came out next and Kevin complimented his jacket. They put on a little video introduction. The theatre went dark, and when the video ended and the lights came back on, there were couches and a clock-a whole living room set up on the stage.

They brought Rob McClure, a famous actor, along with them “to mediate.” They showed home videos that weren’t previously available to the public, showed videos where they reenacted those home videos, chatted with us, and played games. They said a bunch of times how the Off the Record show was really nice because they could actually see us. It was very intimate. We were very literally interacting with them.

They avoided the question of why they broke up, answered fan questions, and told us what they were up to now. Kevin is working with technology and building houses. Joe is working on music and being an Uber driver, which is basically like taxiing only in his mini cooper. The reason Nick wasn’t there was because he’s been filming a new show.

There were so many times Kevin and Joe talked with us one-on-one. At the beginning of the show, a girl got up and Joe called after her, “You’re leaving already?” She yelled back she had to go to the bathroom. He said she’d miss a video, but not to worry about it because she could watch it on YouTube later. They wished a girl a happy 18th birthday towards the end. My favorite interaction, though, was probably when Joe gave a girl “the best hug in the world” while I Will Always Love You was playing.

At the end of the show, they mentioned they’d bought pizza for the people who came to their last concert. Joe said he thought buying pizza for everyone was a onetime thing. Which is why, he said, they bought us ice cream.

We went to the bathroom when it was over. I overheard someone say the ice cream was probably a distraction so they could leave. It made perfect sense to me. Especially when the authoritative security guard pointed out which way the ice cream was.

“That probably means Kevin and Joe are leaving the other way,” I told my mom.

We were debating whether or not to get in line for ice cream. I didn’t particularly want any. What I really wanted to do was walk around the adorable town.  I wanted to look at all that shops and revel in the atmosphere, this post-concert feeling that wouldn’t ever be able to be quite exactly duplicated again. It was the only night I could say I’d just been to Off the Record. This same night would only be repeated in my memory. It was a once in a lifetime thing that I wanted to drag out as long as possible. I got this way after all concerts-very nostalgic. A little bit ramble-y.

My mom and I took pictures of each other in front of the flower shop and the theatre. It was a short walk, as there were only two streets to explore and we barely walked down one because it was so dark. We sat down at some benches in front of the flower shop to decide what we wanted to do. A group of people walked by us. One person said they could die happy. It peeked my interest. I’d vaguely wondered if Joe and Kevin would be handing out the ice cream, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. When I heard someone say she’d locked eyes with Joe “like ten times,” I figured she meant during the concert and left it alone.

My mom gave me a suspicious look, though. We decided to go to the parking lot and see if we could see anything. Sure enough, there were Kevin and Joe, handing out ice cream in a Ben and Jerry’s truck. We hopped in line immediately.

Joe put a tray of ice cream in front of my mom first, thanking her for coming. He held it out to me next and I was very proud of myself for having the thought to thank him. I hadn’t frozen up! Yay! My new catch phrase became “Joe Jonas handed me ice cream.” To this day, I add it to the end of any sentence. I have to admit, I’d imagined many scenarios and things of how I’d meet Kevin and Joe and whatever, but I don’t think I’d ever imagined anything quite like that. Yet, it was still most assuredly a dream come true.

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