I crossed my fingers as we went through the revolving doors. This was the fourth time we were trying to see the Exhibit. As we crossed the lobby, Zombiegirl spotted members of her own species- striped, goth-like people wearing articles of clothing featuring that broad, smiling skull face, colored hair and high-topped Converse. Splashes of bright color against dark brooding clothing.
She pointed out to me everyone going to the Tim Burton exhibit.*. She fits right in.
I kept my fingers crossed as we waited on line at the Guest Services desk. Waiting for tickets through my company’s corporate sponsorship. This was our only hope since the exhibit has been sold out for weeks and it was closing in five days. This was our only hope since Zombiegirl wouldn’t be coming to work with me until the summertime. She was here today because it was Take Our Kids To Work Day and it was her last chance. I crossed my toes just to be on the safe side.
The bored girl at the desk told us there were no more tickets left. They give out the Corporate tickets first thing in the morning and they were all gone for the day.
I wanted to cry. We struck out again.
Zombiegirl looked so upset. She couldn’t believe she wouldn’t be able to see her hero’s work. Burton is the Director of all her favorite movies, the man who has directed her favorite actor. We’ve tried four times- why couldn’t we get in,? she asks.
We have bad luck, I tell her. I offer to buy her something from the MoMA bookstore, knowing they have the Exhibit book.
As we walk back across the lobby, she spies a girl a little older than her sporting Jack Skellington shirt, bag, hat and socks. They make eye contact- Z-girl staring at the outfit, the girl staring at her red-streaked hair. The girl’s mother notices them staring at each other and quick turns to me and asks me if I need a ticket. Her other daughter wasn’t able to make it that day and she has an extra child’s ticket for a half hour from now. I told her I couldn’t get another ticket for myself and she tells me to buy an individual membership and they give a free ticket.
A total stranger helps us out.
After thanking her profusely, we go over to the Member Services desk so I can buy an Indivdual Membership. What? It costs $75? No, that must be for a Family Membership. No, it’s per person. I turn to Z-girl and tell her I can’t afford $75.
That dejected look is starting to kill me.
Do you want to go by yourself? I’ll wait outside for you. No, maybe that’s not a good idea, I think. Do you want to go with the lady that gave us the ticket? No, she’s gone already and I really want to go with you, she says. The walk to the bookstore is quiet and heavy.
Inside, we see the display of Tim Burton books. Zombiegirl picks up an enormous art tome and starts reading. She wants this one- full color photos, harcover, two inches thick. It’s $69. This day is killing me! I steer her to the $20 book- she looks through it and agrees. After walking around a little we find TB playing cards. She’s a little happier as we wait on line.
When we’re called next, we put our purchases on the counter, but the salesperson turns to another customer who had asked her a question. She tells them they’re all sold out. Another Burtonesque-type couple asks her something and again, she tells them they’re sold out. She turns to us and apologizes as she rings up our things.
What are you sold out of, I ask?
Tim Burton Stain Boy t-shirts. I tell her that’s not the only thing they’re sold out of- and proceed to lament how we’ve tried four times to see the exhibit, how much Zombiegirl loves Tim Burton and how we won’t be able to come back to try again. How I tried to get tickets through Corporate Sponsorship. She looked at the kid and was quiet for a moment. First, she says, I can give you 20% off your purchases for being a Corporate Sponsor. She asks me if I can wait around for a few minutes, she wants to check something out.
We’re not going anywhere.
She tells me, very quietly, that she has to get an employee guest pass for her husband who’s coming in later that day. She said she’ll check to see if she can get two more for us. She said SHE feels bad that we’ve tried four times to see the Exhibit. She said Zombiegirl’s face makes her sad.
We wait on the side of the line while she runs off, dodging tourists and Burton fans.
Ten minutes later she comes back with two employee passes and a big grin on her face. As she hands them to Z-girl, she smiles even wider, saying the look on the kid’s face is totally worth it. As I burst into tears (ignoring Zombiegirl’s admonishments about my crying) I ask her for her name. She hands me her card- she’s the store manager- and I give her a hug. Thanking her and telling her people just don’t DO nice things in New York, we laugh and make our way back upstairs to the Exhibit.
Which was awesome and SO worth the agony of dejection and waiting.
Walking back and forth in the crowd of people recognizing early sketches and artwork of Tim’s characters. Seeing the suit Johnny Depp wore in Edward Scissorhands and having Zombiegirl almost faint. Picking out your favorite Jack Skellington head of the 30 on display. Watching the gross but funny Stain Boy cartoons.
It was all worth it.
And it wouldn’t be possible without the kindness of strangers.
Thanks, Justina!* You’ve restored my faith in the human race.
UPDATED: *Names and links have been changed and deleted to protect the innocent and good.