Saying Yes and Stretching Past My Comfort Zone – Part 3

me before Stones concert

On a recent day, I had lunch in the Palisades with two of my oldest friends, Benjy & David.  Another old friend from high school is battling cancer, so we decided she might like to receive flowers.  I found her address and we sent them.  Later, they kept calling to tell me what a lovely idea that really was.  I got texts.  I got calls.  It was nothing – except, all right, it might have been my idea — but we did it, and instead of that being that, they kept on giving me props.  Also, our friend was very touched by the flowers, so, honestly, we were all rewarded, and that should have been the end of it.  Only the boys, my boyz, thought they wanted to do something for me.  Not sure why, but they did.  I got a call one day from Ben.

“David and I were talking and we really want to do something for you.”

“Benny, the texts and calls have been enough.  We all sent the flowers.  I don’t need anything else.”

“No, too bad, we have an offer  — but I know you very well, so I’m not sure you will go for it.  Don’t worry, there will be many other offers, but hear this one first.”

“Okay, Benny.”

“The Rolling Stones.  I have an extra ticket, Meilani is out of town.”  Ben senses my excitement and fear all rolled into one big “WHAT?!!?”

“Look, I know you, Duke.  You hate crowds, you hate noise, you hate to stay out late — so give it some thought.  You have two days to think about it, but we REALLY want you to come.”

“Okay, Ben, two days.  Let me think about it, because you know I REALLY want to go, but it’s way out of my comfort zone.  Thank you so much for the offer and for understanding me so well.”

Panic set in.

Mick up very close and personal

Mick up very close and personal

Summary of the next 48 hours.

First, I told my husband who understands my phobias.  I told him one of the concerns was that I would feel guilty about the cost of the ticket.  “It’s probably a fortune.”  He said to take that off the table, that they are my oldest friends who want me to be with them at the Stones concert.  Sigh of some relief.

But there were other concerns, many of them, and I needed to discuss the situation with my oldest friends.  First, I called Libbie, who is sensitive (a nice word for neurotic) like me.  No answer.  Then Kimberly.  I waited until late Sunday night to make these calls and my deadline was Monday morning.  Concert would be Friday night.  Kimberly picked up.  I told her about the offer.  I didn’t need to remind her of now neurotic I am.  Kimberly’s first response was, “Tell Benjy that it’s the NICEST offer, you’re so touched, but you don’t think you can do it.”

“Yeah, you’re right, okay, thanks.”  I started to hang up.

“No, wait, Fred, what is your biggest fear?”

“That there will be too much traffic Friday and I’ll have to keep making bathroom stops, and it will drive them nuts.”

“If that’s the biggest one, I can help.  We’ll spend the day together and I will drive you downtown before traffic — it’ll be so much fun.  When they get to Staples, I’ll drop you off with them.”

“Oh my God!!!  Seriously? Yes, this is the BEST plan ever!!  Are you sure?  This really helps!!”

I text Ben because it’s very late at night, but I want to respond before the morning deadline: Are you still up?  Ben answered right away.  I tell him Kimberly’s offer to drive me.  He laughs (at me), saying Kimberly will need to wait all night in the parking lot for me.  He said, “Tell her I will bring her snacks and she should bring some books, like our parents had to do when they took us to concerts.”  It was such a funny bit that I texted it to Kimberly, who also thought it was hilarious.  I was always planning on just driving home with Ben and David.  Later that week, I get a call from Ben telling me they were planning to meet at Lisa’s (David’s girlfriend) and go early and have dinner.  I know where Lisa lives.  It sounded doable.  I called Kimberly to tell her she was off the hook; I will go with the others.  Then I called Lisa.  I was about to ask her to not wear perfume when she said, “I’m one step ahead of you Fredde.”  Lisa was so sweet and understanding about my perfume allergy and other issues.  And FYI, she makes her own line of scents.  Friday was approaching and I will not sleep comfortably until the night is over.  I have lunch with my friend Doreen who will also be in the Staples Center that night.  She gives me a heads-up as to how far away the bathrooms are from my seats (far!).  We all meet at Lisa’s.  She is so lovely and keeps checking on my comfort level.  I get very Zen just before our drive into traffic.

I calmly enter the car and Ben takes control by driving and figuring out the best route.  Ben and I both feel similarly about the night; we are all as excited to be with each other as we are to see the Stones.  Or was that just my sentiment?  Our friendships span decades.  Ben and David and I graduated high school together.  Many of our classmates have died.  We still have each other.

Ten minutes into the trip, as we’re rolling through Beverly Hills, I smell a skunk.  “Does anyone else smell a skunk?”

“Yes, Granny,” Benjy laughs.  “That would be pot.”   I lower my window to avoid getting a contact high.  I also worry the cops might stop us and I will go to jail.  These new fears trump my fear of not finding a bathroom.  I roll the window down further when everyone lights up cigarettes.  I make it all the way to the chosen restaurant, Trader Vic’s, without a stop. I deserve Big Girl points for that, I think, as I make the mad dash to the restaurant’s bathroom.  Somewhere, as we were driving, my eye started to feel like something was in it.  I couldn’t stop blinking all through dinner.

Ben and I want to get to the venue nice and early, ahead of the crowds.  Lisa and David want to meet up with us later.  We find a VIP line and jump in it.  Security is looking through my purse and asks what’s in the plastic bag.   I don’t know what bag they are talking about but they have it in their hands by now.  I turn back to Ben and then to the guy at security and announce, “It’s a diaper, it was supposed be my big joke.”  I look at Ben, not even a smirk.  No reaction whatsoever as I go on about how I wanted to have a diaper in a baggie and then the minute we started driving, I was going to say “I’m holding.”  As if it were pot and this was 1972.  Which I thought would have been hilarious, had they not actually been holding.  But in my nervous state, I had totally forgotten the gag that wasn’t even well orchestrated because I never found a baggie big enough for the diaper, so it was in a green plastic Gelson’s bag.  Already not funny.  Not that I know what people carry pot in these days anyway. (I’m told what they carry now is weed.)  I secretly love that Ben is rarely fazed by me.

Not too shabby!!

Not too shabby!!

Amazing seats, we start snapping pics.  The place starts to fill up.  No real anxiety yet.  Then someone mentions everyone around us will be smoking marijuana during the concert.  I’m in shock.  I do live under a rock.  Aren’t there laws about smoking indoors?   I guess that only applies to legal smokes( which also happened around me all night long.)  Eventually the house is full and the fucking real live Rolling Stones start to play.  Mick Jagger is right in front of me. We have the best seats in the house.   I’m soaking it in.

David, Lisa, me and Ben outside of Staples

David, Lisa, me and Ben outside of Staples

But my eye starts to water like mad from the smoke.   I ask Lisa if she can see what’s wrong with it.  It is blinking and watering and I think I am going blind right in the middle of the Stones concert with a diaper in my purse.   Concert is over.  We wait for the crowds to leave first.  On our drive home hot chocolate at the Beverly Hills Hotel is mentioned.  My eye is half size, not even.  I can’t keep it open.  I don’t want to be drinking hot chocolate at 12:30 at night with one eye. I just want to be at home, in bed, with my animals.  I will be the party pooper (I always am).  I decline the invitation.  I’ve said yes enough.  I’m forever grateful that I was invited to the concert and that I went.  I don’t think I’m getting an invitation to the next Stones tour.  But I am entertaining the idea of going to a Bruno Mars concert and on my bucket list is Bruce Springsteen.


Hot Chocolate: You might want to go to the Beverly Hills Hotel to try their Hot Chocolate or even The Four Season’s Hotel.  But those are just some fancy schmancy places.  My friend Stacey has a favorite truck in New York that serves what she claims is the best Hot Chocolate there.  It’s called Dinges, a waffles truck.    Help me out here, tell me your favorite place for Hot Chocolate.  It’s not really my thing, but I will try anything, anytime (not pot though) except in this instance that late at night with only one eye.

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11 Responses to “Saying Yes and Stretching Past My Comfort Zone – Part 3”

  1. Hoov says:

    Cool story. The stone Hollywood bowl @ 12 or 13. Never seen since 1965 or 1966 were great years growing up in LA aloha

  2. robin says:

    omg, I really did laugh out loud several times. (not the diaper joke, though)
    and I do applaud you! very brave, the whole night. further out of the zone than I would venture…
    and the best hot chocolate ever is at Harry’s bar in Venice.
    love you, fred, neuroses and all❤

  3. Wow Fredde, way to keep pushing the zone. Well played! Cafe de Flore has the only hot chocolate I have experienced as an adult. I will never try another. Why bother. PS order the profiteroles. Again I stay true to Cafe de Flore, Paris. But what do I know.

  4. Richie says:

    JoAnn was laughing so hard while reading this, that I had to read it too. Add us to the list of old friends who know and love you Fredde Duke.

  5. kimberly clark says:

    Love you Fredde always. I will drive you anywhere to help push past the comfort zones! What are friends for, if not that?

  6. so great Fred…I could see everyone so clearly in this and can hear your enthusiasm w/ Kimberly driving downtown!!! Somethings never change…Especially good friends…Great write…xoxoxo

  7. Janet Petkin says:

    Great photo of the 4 of you. Heard the concert was a BHHS school reunion. Couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry with this article: So I chalked it up to “aint life great” ( but not easy for anyone)

  8. Mumy says:

    You’re a kook, Ms. Duke! A diaper?! Wow. Dig you mucho! But… Wow.

  9. cristi ulrich says:

    OMGQ!! So great to know some things never change!!! You are the nuttiest munchkin I know!! Love you Duke.

    Hot Chocolat? Must be in Paris or Switzerland!


  10. Linda says:

    Love love love it … probably cuz I know the stars! “Nice word for neurotic” … “weed” … great imagery (as usual).

  11. Patricia Berliner, M.A. says:

    I loved this story, and it’s heart and the details so vivid! What a great evening in your life! I will read it again!

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