In 2001 I was a freshman at Fordham University in the Bronx. By November I had secured a few buddies and was comfortable enough to begin exploring New York. I gathered them up one Friday and said, “Hey, let’s all go wait on line for SNL tickets tonight!”
I had been a fan of the show since my parents introduced it to me at what was probably too young of an age. And if you’re a fan of the show you’ll know that SNL tickets are notoriously hard to come by. They’re handed out by some mysterious lottery system to a few hundred lucky souls every year. But they also hand out standby tickets to anyone willing to sit outside 30 Rock all night and wait for them. Luckily, sitting is my main thing.
“At midnight we’ll go down and get on line. Cool?”
“Cool,” they lied.
We went to a local bar that seemed to think the drinking age was 18 and got wonderfully drunk. A few minutes before midnight I started to mobilize my friends only to find out that not a single one of them wanted to go anymore.
“Fine! I’ll go by myself!” I whined, defiantly.
After storming out of the bar and stumbling up Fordham Road - not the greatest place to stumble at midnight by yourself - I made it to the D train. I got on and settled in for what I was hoping would be an uneventful ride to Rockefeller Center. It would turn out to be anything but thanks to a very enthusiastic - and very high-on-something - martial artist who boarded at the next stop.
“I could kill you, bitch!” he screamed at me while showing off how high he could kick. Not knowing what else to do I just agreed with him. Yes. You could kill me. “NO SHIT!” Another kick.
I looked around the train to see if anyone else could help me but my fellow riders were all looking down, neither seeing or saying anything.
“You don’t believe I could kill you? Watch this!” he screamed, and walked to the subway door. “You watching, bitch?!”
I was, bitch.
And then he punched through the window.
A subway window feels like bullet proof glass and this guy put a fist-sized hole in one without twitching an eye. I started wondering how many people from high school would come home from college to attend my funeral. I hoped it would be a lot. I hoped someone would give a funny eulogy.
Just then we pulled into a stop which really angered my future-murderer for some reason. He stepped off the train to let the conductor know that he could kill him, too, which was right when two NYPD officers came over and “neutralized the situation” with their nightsticks. I watched the ruckus through the hole in the window as the train pulled away. I would live to see SNL!
I spent the rest of the ride trying to silently shame everyone else on the train who didn’t come to my rescue.
When I got to 30 Rock it was probably about 1:30 AM and I was nervous that I would be too far back on the line to get a ticket. But lo and behold there wasn’t a single person waiting. I was first which meant I was almost definitely going to get in. I sat down on the cold concrete and thought about how all of my friends would be so jealous when I was watching SNL and they were stuck at college having sex with people.
I waited. Hours went by. Drunk people went by. I saw a rat proudly dragging a chicken bone down the street. And still I waited. After two hours of solitude I had a mildly terrifying thought: what if the line is on the other side of the building? I decided that it was worth losing my prime position to investigate. And to my relief the other side of the building was just as empty. I went back to my spot and plopped down, wondering if I could will myself to fall asleep in the cold, sharp November air. (I couldn’t).
Finally, at about 7 AM the door cracked open and out came a janitor. “Man, you’ve been here all night. What are you doing?”
“I’m waiting for SNL tickets.”
“Ahh. That show is great. I went to it once years and years ago.” He smiled. I smiled.
“I can’t wait to see it,” I said.
“Well you’re gonna have to wait because they’re on break this week. No show.”
I have never felt like more of an idiot than I did at that moment.
“Cold out here,” he added as he ducked back inside.
And the worst part was I didn’t get to watch SNL on TV that night either.
The worst part was the crazy person threatening to kill me.