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Long and Winding Line : She just wanted to let it be, but he wanted tickets to a Paul McCartney concert.


Your mother warned you when you started dating that boys would demand certain things.

But she never explained that one of them would be standing in line for concert tickets. By yourself. In the rain.

So how is it that you find yourself one Saturday--at an hour usually reserved for delivering papers and flying to Europe--waiting at Tower Records in Sherman Oaks to buy Paul McCartney tickets?

It all starts when your boyfriend, Marsh, which whom you've previously had a solid relationship, asks you to buy as many tickets as possible while he's out of town.

Now, in your opinion, it's been 20 years since McCartney wrote a song worth humming. But try telling that to your boyfriend, who owns 17 Beatles CDs, a library of McCartney biographies and a stuffed Ringo doll.

This, it becomes clear to you, is what your mother meant by the price of love.

You can't help but worry. You've never been through this ticket-buying rite of passage, which most of your friends conquered at age 15 with their first trip to see AC/DC.

And, as you stand in line, surrounded by 25 people still reliving the British invasion, you realize that you are grossly unprepared. Others carry folding chairs. Many wear Beatles T-shirts. At least two are humming "Let It Be."

"I saw Paul in concert two years ago," says a middle-aged man who stands near you. "And I saw Ringo's all-star tour before that. I still want to see Yoko, though."

You turn and smile at the man. "Get a life," you think.

Aloud, you innocently ask, "Doesn't Paul have a new album out?"

The conversation stops. Cold. Apparently, the record hasn't met the exacting standards of McCartney's fans.

A silence-filled half an hour later, a Tower employee emerges from behind the closed doors of the ticket counter and orders you to pick a red plastic armband.

The number on the band places you in the first third of a new line. You smile into the rain that now pelts your face. You sense victory.

Other people in line smoosh up against the wall, seeking shelter from the rain beneath a four-inch overhang. You put up your umbrella, funneling water onto the back of the man in front of you. This would bother you if you didn't think of him as an enemy in your quest for numerous tickets.

A man in a red convertible pulls up next to the line. "What's all this about?" he asks.

"McCartney's coming," a fan says enthusiastically.

The man in the sports car pulls a quick U-turn and roars away. Evidently, he's heard McCartney's latest album too.

Eventually, you near the front of the line. That is when you see the sign. Cash only, it says. A sick feeling hits you.

"You don't take checks?" you ask, wondering what kind of parallel universe you have stepped into.

"Just cash," they say, shifting their attention to the back of the line. You are holding things up.

You scrounge through your purse and come up with enough crumpled dollars to buy two tickets. Then, shoulders slumped in shame, you head home to call your boyfriend.

"I could only get two," you explain.

"We'll have to try scalpers," Marsh says, ready to put his backup plan into action. "I want to make sure we've got tickets for Dennis and Jim and Max and Renee."

"Are you sure they'll want to see McCartney?" you ask, trying to be gentle.

"Oh, yeah," Marsh chirps. "They'll want to hear Paul play the stuff from his new album."

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