Back in May, Mackenzie and I planned a surprise graduation trip to London for Madison that included a visit to Leavesden Studios, where all eight Harry Potter Films were shot. This was the best idea ever in the history of ideas. My kids grew up during the span of time when the Harry Potter books were a brand new thing. We actually had to wait a year or so before each book would come out and then we were the crazy people that actually dressed up in character to go to the midnight launch…….
Our family is weird. Once the new installment was in our grasp, we would race home and stay up till dawn getting a head start. I read each one aloud IN character with corresponding accents. This was BEFORE the movies came out by the way, and when they finally came along, I was rather proud that I had actually NAILED the essence of each character (with the exception of Professor Umbridge who went in a completely different direction from what I’d imagined, a sacrilege we still struggle to forgive.) We have several copies of each book. All eight films have been watched at least 1,956 times. One time Mackenzie and Madison went to Universal Studios and stayed within the confines of Harry Potter World for ten hours straight without even peeing. To say that the girls like Harry Potter would be like saying that teen girls sorta kinda like One Direction. Or that Rose and Jack were a little bit in love. Or that suburban housewives somewhat enjoy a glass of wine.
Mack and Madi are Harry Potter psychopaths. Norman Bates would admire them.
So when I surprised Madison on her birthday by announcing the trip, and added the fact that I had also obtained the nearly impossible to get tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child which is the 2 part, 6 hour stage play…..I’m not sure how to describe her reaction. A gazelle on crack sounds about right.
Now….. I had thought that they were absolutely sold out until the end of time. But somehow I was able to obtain tickets through a stub hub like ticket centre. Wow, were they expensive. But I didn’t care. We HAD to go. Madison would only graduate high school one time. This had to happen.
This is where where the sketch begins.
The website said that I would be receiving a phone call within 24 hours confirming where we would be staying in London. The day after I booked the tickets I was on a flight back to Budapest, where Matt is filming The Alienist and I got no phone call. The first day back in Budapest, I got no phone call. I started to worry. Credit card info had been given. I sent the following email:
No reply to this email ever came. But finally I did see a number from England come through my phone and when I picked up, I met Roger the Sketchy Ticket guy for the first time. He had a thick cockney accent and used the term “luv” excessively. I told him I had been worried and was relieved he’d finally contacted me. He said something like, “Luv, Oiv been tryna call ya for dighs, so you’re all set, you’re good, just call me when you get to London.”
I was like, “Wait….that’s it? Don’t you, like send me the tickets via mail or something?” He replied in an irritated tone that “No, we don’t dew it loik that, just call me when ye get to London. Ok? Graight, bye.”
“No wait! Roger…..do I just call you at this number???”
But Roger was gone. Hmmmmmmm……..
Two months went by and off to London we went. As soon as I arrived, Roger was my first call. He picked up right away. “Yea, yea, luv, oh-kigh, so your here, graight. I’ll call ya soon oh-kigh?” Click.
The next day, when no phone call came, I called again. “‘Ello, luv, call me back at 11:30 roight?” Click.
I called back at 11:30 and was told that Roger was in a meeting and to call him back in five minutes. I called back in five minutes and he made to put me off again with a “Luv, Om STILL in a meetin’, I’m gonna need to call ya back alroight?”
‘NO! ROGER!!!!!” I broke in with my best don’t-mess-with-me mom voice, “DO NOT DARE HANG UP!” Roger seemed wounded. Baffled at my angst. Why so mistrustful? I said, “What is going on here!? Why can I not get you to stay on the phone with me for more that 15 seconds!?”
The girls looked on while biting their fingernails down to nubs. Lisa Phelan, a good friend traveling with us, shook her head and said something about him not wanting his calls traced. Fantastic.
Rog assured me that he had my tickets and asked where I was staying. Ha! Um…..yeah…no…… Rog was not finding out that little piece of intel so I said we were staying NEAR Paddington Station and perhaps we could meet there, but wouldn’t it make more sense to leave them at Will Call or something like normal people? He said no, it wouldn’t luv, and to meet his friend Wayne at Cambridge Pub the next day at noon.
Cambridge Pu…..wait… who the hell is Wayne……what in the……..!? This prompted the following email which was also never responded to.
Madison was kind. At least out loud. She assured me that even if we didn’t get to see the play that we would still have Leavesden. But I’m nothing if not tenacious. Later that evening I got an email from the website that said……
What!!!? Didn’t Roger tell me to meet WAYNE at the Cambridge Pub at NOON on THE DAY OF THE SHOW!? Was there no communication in this operation? This was getting worse and worse. Roger had provided me Wayne’s number, so first thing the next morning I called Wayne, who was a less amphetamined version of Roger and who actually stayed on the phone for a good 30 seconds. He assured me that not only did he have the tickets, but that they had upgraded our seats. He would meet me himself at the Cambridge Pub, which I’d found out is right next to the theatre at noon. Okey doke. Wayne. Cambridge Pub. Hope we don’t die.
At noon, there we stood. Outside the Cambridge Pub, looking uncertain and dubious which I think mean the same thing, but in this case redundancy seems necessary. All of a sudden, a young, well dressed man came sliding around the corner.
“Kelly?” he said.
“Yeeeees?” I replied giving him skeptical side eye.
“Here are your tickets. You have the best seats in the house. Well two of you do. The third seat is unfortunately the worst so you’ll have to decide who sits there.” (Ha! As if there was any question. Does he KNOW my daughters…..?)
“Listen, Wayne, are these tickets legit? Because you guys are sketchy as hell.”
“Who’s Wayne?” he asked.
“And you JUST GOT SKETCHIER!” I shouted. “Who’s Wayne!? Aren’t YOU Wayne? You just told me you’d see me in a minute!?”
He smiled benignly, the way Voldemort might when he’s sizing up Harry Potter before administering the crutiatus curse. “I don’t know, Kelly. I was just told to meet you here at noon.”
“So THIS isn’t your number?” I showed him.
“Oh. That’s my brother.” He smiled.
“How can you FORGET that your brothers name is Wayne?” I spluttered.
“Listen,” Wayne who wasn’t Wayne soothed. “You’re good. You’re fine.” Then he slid off around the corner, back to the land of people who don’t know their brother’s names.
“Mom,” Mackenzie said. “There’s something really fishy about this.”
“You’re absolutely right, Mackenzie,” I said, eyes narrowing. And just like an episode of Scooby Doo at the end of act 3, I firmly stated, “And I’m going to find out just what it is!”
(The three girls march toward the box office and we fade to the commercial break.)
AFTER THE COMMERCIAL BREAK
The man at the box office was shaking his head. It was not a good sign.
“Yeah, unfortunately, I”m going to have to confiscate these tickets. They’ve illegally imitated our website. These guys have been doing this and we’re trying to catch them, but well……they always use different people.” Ha! Yes, we know about that nice box office guy.
My heart sank. Madi and Mack looked sick with disappointment. We turned, sadly, to go.
“The good news is,” nice box office guy volunteered, “These seats are actually available because he bought them from us with cash this morning, so we can sell them to you for face value and then give you a form that will allow you to charge your credit card back the amount that Sketchy Roger charged you. He was charging you 3 times the real amount, by the way.”
We raced back to him with glee. Nice box office guy was a ray of sunshine through the leaden London sky! Joy! Jubilation!
True to Sketchy Rogers word, the tickets WERE fantastic. Best seats in the house. Well, Mack and Madi’s were anyway. I had to crane my neck like an ostrich anytime something happened on Stage Left, but I had a clear view of the rhapsodic look on the girls faces during the entirety of Part 1 and like the sacrificial mother that I am, that was enough for me. (beaming smile with a tooth gleam).
During the break, I picked up the letter that would allow me to get the necessary refund from Roger/Wayne/Voldemort and I sent him/them the following email.
This brought on several IRATE phone calls from Wayne. He called me eleven forms of stupid and accused me of bringing this all on myself because I’d gone to the box office instead of just attempting entry. I told him that he needed to fire both Sketchy Roger and Voldemort because it was their behaviour that caused me to question him in the first place. He whined and wheedled and said said he’d paid cash for the tickets and now he would be out of pocket. I told him that the box office said that they would happily refund him if he brought in his proof of purchase, but I doubt he’ll try. He knows they’re looking for him.
There were a few scary moments after Part 2 that evening where I was certain we would be followed home by Sketchy’s henchman and taught a lesson. We walked home at lightening speed, furtively sliding behind buildings and peeking around corners the entire way home. I even considered getting off the subway at a different station so as to further elude them. The girls thought I was insane. I say a mother’s gut is never wrong, and my elusivity(?) was surely the only thing that kept us safe.
If you listen closely, you may be able to hear Sketchy Roger’s haunting, plaintive cry all through out London:
“And I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you crazy kids!!!!!”