Took my cousin’s 14-year old son to Soldier Field for “Legends of the Summer.”
My cousin is divorced. Her ex-husband is a banker who was born rich, which means my cousin will spend more of her life suing her ex-husband than being married. Even worse, it means her children will never know the advantage of struggle.
How do you take a kid with everything to see a concert whose headliner struggled from the lowest depths of The Marcy Projects to the highest reaches of fame, where his ability to rap over a Pre-Recorded Dat Tape blew the stadium doors off a former Mickey Mouseketeer who was backed-up by background singers and a 35-piece orchestra.
How do you take a kid with everything to see Jay-Z?
You scalp. Even though the show is sold out.
You scalp and when the scalper sells you nosebleed seats, you finagle your way down to front row, stage left, a thin rail separating you from the floor. When you get bumped, you dance. When the rightful ticket holders claim their seats, you dance. There’s always another seat. So you keep moving. You dance.
There’s always an opportunity to get even closer, as long as you’re willing to finagle.
Finagle is a Yiddish word for Hustle.
I was born to be a low-risk Hustler, selling pastrami to an affluent audience on the North Shore of Easy Street.
Product Is Product.
Anyone who’d tell you otherwise is selling Dime Bags of Fear. I’m not in the market for fear. I’m not hooked on fear.
Even when I vote. Especially when I vote.
The lights went down on Soldier Filed. The iPhones went up. The screaming began. The dancing kicked into a different gear. The scent changed. My cousin’s son put his t-shirt over his nose, alarmed over the scent.
I wasn’t there to partake. I wasn’t there to lie. I was there to finagle, dance and shepherd along a young boy I’m lucky enough to play a small role in helping to raise.
“That’s marijuana,” I said. “Some people drink beer, some people smoke marijuana, some people eat Big Macs. That’s how adults blow-off steam. No big deal.”
“Let’s go,” he shot back, visibly frightened.
“Once the song ends,” I said, “we’ll go.”
My hope was the song would end, and he’d be so caught-up in the moment, he’d let go of fear and re-set his boundaries.
The song ended.
“Let’s go,” he said.
“No problem.” I motioned toward the exit.
I got him a drink of water, trying to cool things down. As we made our way out, Jay-Z began playing “99 Problems.” Suddenly, he was a kid again, excited, running toward the show, iPhone in hand, raised-up so he could record the moment, proof he’d been near the moment, even if he’d never been in the moment or allowed himself to get caught-up.
He never danced. In all likelihood, he never will.