I don’t let myself get my hopes up about anything that isn’t a complete and utter lock — mostly because I’m an emotionally fragile pussy who strives to avoid disappointment — but I was unable to keep from getting my hopes up about attending Howard Stern’s Birthday Bash in New York City later this month.
In a rare move, I let myself be openly optimistic. Howard first announced plans for the January 31st event back in mid-November … and I immediately booked a non-refundable hotel room in midtown Manhattan. I figured, worst case scenario, Wonder Woman and I get to have some more fun in New York City.
“Are you still going to be able to have a good time that night if we don’t get tickets?” she asked.
It’s almost like she knows me.
“Of COURSE I am, honey,” I lied through my fucking teeth.
And I tried to convince myself that I believed that lie … but I didn’t try all that hard, because I still felt confident that we’d get tickets. After all, I have a pretty spectacular track record of making this sort of shit work out (like that private Van Halen concert, for example).
When I didn’t win tickets via the initial SiriusXM subscriber lottery, I set my sights on the “Howard Stern Look-a-Like” contest on Facebook, for which I dug up a 13-year-old photo of Wonder Woman and me at a Halloween party disguised as Robin Quivers and Howard Stern.
And I was positive — POSITIVE! — that I was going to be one of the four winners … so much so that I actually dared to speak aloud about the likelihood of my victory. And in return for that foolish act of hubris, I was swiftly and decisively kicked in the metaphorical balls. Four winners were picked, and I came in fifth. FIFTH! No victory. No celebration dance. Just the knowledge that I had come THIS CLOSE to scoring the most hard-to-get ticket of all time. Too bad, so sad, fuck off, The End.
The thing is, I had truly believed I was going to get tickets … and my disappointment after losing ran much deeper than the simple fact that I wasn’t going to be at the show.
As those of you who have read my “About” page already know, Howard Stern has been a significant figure in my life. I began listening to “The Howard Stern Show” show more than 20 years ago while serving as a military police K-9 handler in the U.S. Army, and it is largely because of my exposure to his show that I made the massive shift from a career in law enforcement to a career in writing (by way of a stint in college radio).
I know that Howard Stern is a polarizing figure, and I’m not going to waste my digital breath trying to change the minds of any among you who might have a negative opinion of him. Suffice to say, I do not concur. But, whatever your opinion of him may be, the important takeaway here is that Howard Stern has been my primary creative and professional inspiration for the past two decades. In addition to making me laugh and generally entertaining the hell out of me, he has represented to me the possibility of becoming a self-made success by using your creative talents, and of achieving that success by sticking to your creative vision … even when doing so means risking failure.
With all of that in mind, you hopefully can understand how, without consciously intending to do so, I had let the prospect of winning tickets to Howard’s birthday bash become for me the sign I needed in order to believe that, despite the major, unexpected and completely depressing detour my career has taken over the past few years, I still have “it” … I still have that little bit of magic that has helped make possible things like all of my amazing experiences with Van Halen and my subsequent dream job as a music journalist. And if I still have “it,” then maybe I can get back to believing in the prospect of the rewarding and creative career I had always envisioned for myself. Maybe I can stop feeling like I’ve already missed my chance, and stop feeling like I’ve been sentenced to Death by Cubicle.
Maybe I can get back to believing in the dreams I had for my life.
And, yes, I am fully aware that it sounds completely fucking insane to place that much significance on winning a pair of tickets to a show … but no one’s ever accused me of being the poster child for sanity.
Listen, I wasn’t actually banking the rest of my life on whether or not I won tickets to Howard Stern’s Birthday Bash, OK? But a win would have provided a much-needed ray of hope.
Bottom line: The loss really threw me for a loop.
The first time I listened to Howard’s show after losing, it stung like a bitch to hear him hyping the party. I seriously considered tuning out until February so I could avoid suffering daily multiple twistings of the knife in my heart.
And then, much to my surprise, another Facebook contest was posted, the theme of which was to create a birthday card for Howard. Short on hope, long on desperation, and fearful of opening myself up to another gut-wrenching loss, I recycled my previous entry, turned it into a birthday card, and carpet-bombed the entire fucking Internet by hounding every last person I could think of to “Like” it.
On Sunday afternoon, this showed up in my email:
Fuckin’ A. I’ve still got “it.”
Thank you all for tolerating my obnoxious campaign to win tickets … especially those of you who actually “Liked” and “Shared” the photo. I can assure you that no one was more annoyed, sickened and disgusted than I by my pathetic begging and kvetching.