I was at a pizza party late one Sunday afternoon when I got the news: I was going to see Tom Petty, from the fifth row, for free, and I would be arriving in a limo.
I had just come to terms with the fact that my broke and unemployed self, living like a refugee from New York in my parents' house in Atlanta for the summer, would not be attending one of my all-time favorite singer's shows, while all my other friends were leaving the party early to get their Petty on. But just then, an old coworker I hadn't seen in 10 years posted on Facebook that he had an extra ticket. I channeled a rabid superfan (me?) and secured not one but two tickets for myself and a girlfriend, and was told "not to worry about it" when it came to paying for them. When I inquired about transportation since the venue was in Bumblefuck, Georgia, I was informed we'd have a hired driver for the night. We sobered up fast from our day drinking and went back to her house to get ready for the concert. I was a bit skeptical about the whole too-good-to-be-true scenario, but after arriving at my friend's place, I got a call from a number I didn't recognize. I picked up and it was "Big B" a.k.a. the driver asking for directions. It was on!
Big B arrives in a black stretch limousine, and my friend and I are giggling and squealing as we climb in and help ourselves to the Bud Light Platinum and Grey Goose and cranberry juice from the fully stocked bar. We pick up my old colleague who was with another guy we'll call "Mr. Blank" and two ladyfriends, and begin the long trek to the show. It should be noted that these people had just been at the Hawks vs. Celtics game, where they'd purchased $120 worth of those oversized "No. 1" foam hands, which made the ride even more surreal.
Minutes away from the venue and showtime, my bladder was about to burst from all the boozing, so we requested that Big B pull over to a gas station so I could relieve myself and we could stock up on some Bugles (very important detail). Up until this point I had assumed that the tickets were already in hand, but I came to find out we had to make one final stop to meet a man called "Mr. Gold," who was wearing a tan (not gold, sorry) suit and looked like a Little Richard impersonator. I took one look at him and the dodgy looking tickets he handed us and thought for sure we were doomed, with my having just been duped weeks before when purchasing counterfeit Bruce Springsteen tickets (The Best Time Three Friends and I Paid $800 for Fake Tickets to See the Boss).
Miraculously enough, these tickets were legit, and although our bathroom break had caused us to miss "You Wreck Me" and "I Won't Back Down," we could hear the all too familiar chords of "Free Fallin" resounding through the ginormous amphitheater as we made our way to our seats, which were approximately five rows from the stage and in plain view of Tom and all his guitar swinging, stoned Cheshire cat grinning, velvet pants wearing glory. Our fellow concert-goers were a classy bunch and the behavior of one drunk and disorderly dudebro in front of us prompted my friend to tell him she'd "kick his teeth in and stab his eardrums out" if he looked at her again, and his friend ended up goosing her, but hey, at least she won $5 in a bet with him that "American Girl" would be the encore.
BUT WAIT. Just when we thought the night couldn't get any more bizarre, on the way home from the show, the limo pulls up to Mr. Blank's residence, where we're given a tour of a sprawling eight acre, Cribs-worthy mansion complete with saltwater pool, putting green, wall of flatscreens, fishtanks, home gym, guest house, enough sports and film memorabilia to fill a museum and a garage that houses the sexiest black Ferrari I've ever sat in. Come to think of it, it's the only Ferrari I've ever sat in. Apparently his Lamborghini was in the shop (seriously). There was discussion of taking it for a joyride, but we decided to play it safe and leave it in the garage since a) everyone had been drinking, and b) a Ferrari costs more than 25 years worth of rent in New York.
So apparently Mr. Blank is a totally sweet and humble unassuming self-made millionaire under 40 whose wife and kids were asleep, the limo belongs to him, and Big B is his personal driver. Um, okay?
Big B is given instructions to get the rest of us all safely home, and after we drop off my colleague and the other girls, I pick up the carphone and give Big B directions to my parents' house, and as we pull into their driveway I am given a big, fat reality check.