“And how the hell did you end up at the Grammys?”

If you’re friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you probably noticed that the wife and I were fortunate enough to snag an invite to the Grammys in Los Angeles last weekend.

The short answer to the question posed in the title is:

“Because AEG (the company that owns and operates the Staples Center) wanted to build the Sprint Center in Kansas City on a site that was occupied by a branch of UMB Bank.”

The real answer is far more complicated than that, but at it’s root, that’s as far as I was able to trace the answer to that question (which was posed to be by a golfing buddy via text and probably many others when photos started popping up on social media). When the opportunity arose and the invite was received, I quickly scribbled “attend a major entertainment awards show” at the top of the bucket list and told Lindsay, “yeah, we need to do that.”

Obviously, it wasn’t that simple and that wasn’t quite my first reaction. My first reaction? “There’s no fucking way they’re going to let us do that.”

The “they” in question was our employer because the invite was received by a supplier contact that Lindsay works with. Neither of us had ever received this type of invitation in a professional setting and, in the sexy world of benefits outsourcing, had never really considered it much of a possibility. Literally, my experience in this type of situation was taking a computer based compliance training course once a year where they make it sound like if you accept more than a dinner from a third party, you’re looking at punishment that could lead up to and include termination of employment. And don’t even think about ordering dessert at that dinner.

In this situation Lindsay received a surprise email just over a month ago from a partner at the bank mentioned above, which has access to a suite at the Grammys based on a sponsorship deal in place with AEG. To her credit, she’s one that sees no harm in at least asking the question and approached her boss, whose reaction was “let’s give it a shot and see what they say.” Surprisingly, after meeting a few conditions, both general counsel and compliance gave the green light. I was stunned. Lindsay was giddy. We were going to the Grammys.

For those that know me, I’m not really a “Grammys” kind of guy. This became painfully obvious on the dance floor at the after-party. I’m pretty happy listening to Jack Johnson and any other acoustic singer/songwriter that either plays on his label or produces what Lindsay rightfully calls “surfer music.” Needless to say, I don’t think people really had me pegged (nor did I peg myself) as someone that would ever attend the event.

Now that the compliance issue was cleared, there was still the personal aspect. We’ve always been fortunate and have tremendous support from family and friends when we want to do things (like the time we wanted to go to Everest Base Camp for three weeks and somehow convinced our parents that they could each spend 10 days with their 14 month old granddaughter – but seriously, what grandparent wouldn’t do that if able, especially given how adorable our daughter is).

This time around, both sets of parents were traveling, Lindsay’s in Mexico and mine in Colorado. We were going to need to get creative. Thankfully, that’s where we’re fortunate to have family friends like Aunt Kiki. I’m pretty sure Aunt Kiki just really likes Lauren and pretty much just tolerates us (or at least me). Whatever. I’ll take. Even then, three nights is a lot to ask – especially outside the family – but thankfully Aunt Kiki (and husband) were up to the task. And I can’t thank them enough. Without a trusted family friend like her, this type of thing just wouldn’t be possible. I’m going to owe her for the foreseeable future (as she’ll rightfully remind me). I was hoping that the swag bag at the after-party would be repayment enough, but upon finding it stuffed with such glamorous swag as a Hello Kitty visor and sweat bands, I probably need to rethink that strategy. Regardless, it was worth it.

Now that the personal piece was taken care of, I stared to ask questions like, “if someone wanted to just go, how hard is it to get Grammy tickets?” I did a little research to see if one can even get tickets. Based on my internet and StubHub search, it looks pretty hard, which was somewhat surprising since it’s held at the Staples Center and 10,000 people attend. You’d think in this day and age, there would be a price for everything. I get the sense tickets are given to individuals in the industry and corporate sponsors and partners (how we were able to score an invite) and that those people pretty much use them. I did see a couple people outside trying to turn tickets (though those scalpers seemed to be in “buy” as opposed to “sell” mode, at least when we walked past).

I’m going to dedicate the next few posts (not sure yet how I’m going to break it out) on the experience. From the scene around LA Live (we were lucky enough to stay at the JW Marriott across the street from all the action) to the pre-party (where my closest brush with “celebrity” over the weekend was a shared elevator ride with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper), to the event itself, to the after-parties, to how the heck Lindsay decided what to wear, to anything else that seems noteworthy from the experience.

All in all, pretty much a typical weekend for a middle-aged suburban married couple. But not really.

Of course, all of this wouldn’t have been possible without the invite from our hosts. A simple thank you does not suffice but I can’t really think of what might. Just know that it was greatly appreciated and you provided a once in a lifetime weekend. Simply incredible.

 

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