By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
Last Friday night we planned a great dinner with friends, followed by an Il Divo concert. What we didn’t plan was spending our remaining years lost in a parking garage.
How can you get lost in a parking garage, you ask? Well, apparently pretty easily. It started out innocently enough – we made reservations at Kincaid’s in downtown Phoenix for a nice dinner before the concert. Problem is, we didn’t check the sports section before we left home and as luck would have it, BOTH the Diamondbacks and the Suns were playing in their respective arenas right across the street. Which in Phoenix means that every street is turned upside down for “game night” – one way streets are reversed, lanes are blocked off, and the police seem awfully serious about imposing their silly “game night” traffic rules. So we pulled up to the corner where the Kincaid’s parking garage is, only to be told by a very nice policeman that we couldn’t cross the intersection to get into the garage – we had to turn left. Traffic was horrendous and we began to panic that we might lose our reservation. So my girlfriend, Terri, and I got out of the car to secure our table and left our husbands to find their way back to the parking garage. Big mistake. Big, big mistake. Let’s just say that if Lewis and Clark had depended on these guys to find the Pacific Ocean they would have ended up in Spain. Terri and I settled into our booth, read the menu, ordered a drink…no sign of our husbands. Another five minutes went by. Neither guy had their cell phones with them (naturally) so we couldn’t call. Finally, my husband came panting into the restaurant with a wild-eyed, distress-call look. Turns out they couldn’t find the right parking garage. At which point I did what every woman in America would do – I sent my husband to the booth to order a drink and I went down to our friend’s car to give directions.
That crisis averted, we had a wonderful meal at Kincaid’s with about 40 minutes to spare before our concert, a 10 minute drive away. We hopped into the car and circled our floor (P2) several times. There was no exit. We circled again, almost getting into a head-on accident when we tried to go “up” the “down” ramp. Finally we found a ramp and followed it…DOWN. And the sad thing is that the four of us thought we had achieved success. We wandered on P3 like Bedouins in the desert until we finally realized that we had only buried ourselves deeper in the garage. Up we went again to P2 and circled. By now the language was becoming colorful. I was imagining a life lived in a parking structure. Finally we figured out that in their effort to control traffic on game night, the garage had put traffic cones blocking the “up” ramps. Once we had dispatched the cones (and we’re very sorry to whomever owns that 2010 Toyota that now has a door ding suspiciously the size of a traffic cone) we sped to the theater. I had purchased reserved “special” parking ahead of time. It turns out that meant we could park on the fifth level no where even close to an elevator.
FINALLY, we reached our seats just as the curtain was rising on Il Divo. People all around us asked us (quite curtly, if you ask me) to sit down and get out of their line of vision. We attempted to secure our seats, once again wandering about in a quandary, until we figured out that someone was already in our seats. We quickly found a security person who looked at us with some suspicion. Frankly, I couldn’t blame her – we looked a bit frantic given our recent brush with Death By Parking Garage. She reviewed our tickets, scanned our faces, and then assured us she was on the case. Inspector Clouseau had nothing on her. She had us stand in the holding area while she marched right back down the aisle to grill the people in our seats. So while Il Divo was wowing the crowd with their rendition of “Tonight”, the people in Section 3 were being entertained by a security guard, a flashlight, four idiots in a holding area and the scofflaws in our seats. Turns out, the people in our seats had discovered that someone had taken THEIR seats, so they took ours. Apparently there is an outbreak of seat-stealing in Phoenix. Several minutes later, we finally settled in, much to the relief of everyone in the immediate area.
As for the concert…it was FABULOUS. For those of you who have never heard of Il Divo, they are four tenors who were assembled by Simon Cowell, of American Idol fame. They are from Switzerland, France, Spain and the USA and did not know each other before Mr. Cowell decided they would make a great group. They have previously focused on classical music but this tour they are singing songs taken from the musical theater. They have soaring voices and their close harmony is worthy of goose bumps. Phoenix is the first U.S. stop on their world tour and they frequently said how glad they were to be here after touring Asia where no one understood a word they were saying. Joining them on this tour is Lea Salonga, the beautiful Filipino soprano star of Broadway and the West End. In 1996 I was lucky enough to see her in London in Les Miserables. To hear her sing “On My Own” again after 18 years was one of the highlights of my life. She has not lost one ounce of her talent, range or phrasing.
Oh, and about becoming a diva. We learned from several Il Divo fans around us that if you are really a follower of them you are referred to as a “diva”. Based on Friday night’s crowd of self-described “divas”, I’d say their demographic skews to the high side of Social Security. There is something that is both heart-warming and pathetic about senior citizen women shouting out “I love you” to 40-something entertainers. Someone in the crowd offered to take a shower with the French member of the quartet, which he deftly laughed off. I was waiting for one of the “divas” to throw her panties on to the stage. Which, from all appearances, the men from Il Divo could have used as a car cover.
At the end of the night, now considering ourselves “divas” in spirit if not in actual fact, we all agreed that it was one of the best concerts we had ever attended. If they come to a city near you, RUN, don’t walk, to buy tickets.