My sister works for a concert promoter in New York City. In early October, I asked her off-hand if her company had any good shows coming up. She mentioned Alanis Morissette would be playing Terminal 5 at the end of the month.
“Oh my God — can you get me tickets?!” I asked excitedly, straddling the line between stark seriousness and utter irony (by which I mean, I wanted the God damn tickets).
“Yeah, I mean… Do you want to go to an Alanis Morissette concert…? Cause I can get you a couple tickets, if you’d like…”
I vividly remember watching the (entirely sepia?) music video for “You Oughta Know” on MTV 1996. Years later in high school, my friend Liz and I would nearly break our car stereos blasting the same song. Damaging our vocal chords to Jagged Little Pill was deeply cathartic for us and had little to do with the lyrics themselves. Though it started in jest, our love for Alanis steadily became very real and wholly uncurbed. Liz and I have been close friends since 2004 and Alanis Morissette plays a disproportionately large role in our relationship.
“Well, if you can finagle some tickets, I’d definitely go to an Alanis show…”
The night of the concert finally arrived. Liz and I met at the McDonald’s on 56th and 8th for a classy pre-show dinner. (Like Alanis, our love for McDonalds has evolved from “guilty pleasure” to “genuine adoration,” and is too the glue of our friendship.) I got a Big Mac; Liz has a gluten allergy, so they just gave her a meat patty slathered in ketchup. The night was off to a good start, and stumbling into El Azteca’s happy hour post-Mickey D’s only improved it.
Liz and I had each consumed a McDonald’s meal and a margarita by the time we arrived at Terminal 5. When we picked up the tickets at Will Call, we were met with a pleasant surprise: My sister had gotten us VIP wristbands! You know you’ve made it in life when you’re deemed a Very Important Person at a washed-up Canadian chick’s folk rock concert. We got a couple more drinks and flashed our wristbands for the VIP bouncers.
Once inside the velvet rope, Liz immediately hissed in my ear, “That’s Perez!” Nodding to her right as we walked by a well-kept guy in a flannel button-up.
“Huh?” (I was probably still thinking about that Big Mac.)
“It’s Perez Hilton!” she said a little louder. “HA!”
To be frank, I could not have given less of a fuck about Perez Hilton, though I was aware of his general existence. I’m a tad surprised Liz recognized his actual face, but no judgment there. I have an extensive collection of trashy guilty pleasures; celebrity gossip websites are not included. We giggled and ventured into the VIP area, a roped-off balcony that held about 100 people.
As Alanis played “Thank You,” Liz and I wriggled through the crowd for a better view. We soon found ourselves enveloped in a hoard of effeminate French men and hollow-boned models. Lest you forget, Liz and I had each just consumed 1200 calories worth of French fries.
And suddenly, as if the heavens opened up upon us, there they were in front of us: Mary-Kate and Ashley. My best friend and I were standing five feet from the Olsen twins at an Alanis Morissette concert. It was a 90s girl’s wet dream.
Alanis then launched into a familiar yodeling and plucking. “An old man turned 98/He won the lottery and died the next day…” The crowd screamed; “Ironic” alone had sold 75% of the tickets to this show.
Confession: Drunk tweeting is my vice. In that moment, I sent the following into cyberspace:
Is it ironic that I’m standing next to Mary-Kate Olsen and @PerezHilton at an Alanis Morissette concert while listening to ‘Ironic’? #REALTHO.
Seconds later, Twitter notified me that Mr. Hilton himself had retweeted my apparent misunderstanding of literary terminology to his six million followers. The next appropriate (and totally not psychotic?) action was obviously to introduce myself to Perez.
Perez was flying solo that night. Apparently he likes to listen to Angry Chick Rock and retweet drunk 23-year-olds in solitude.
“Hi. Um, sorry to bother you,” I sputter through giggles. “You just retweeted me, so, I thought I’d say hi…? My name’s Perry, this is Liz.”
Perez was uneasy, yet friendly. “Oh, haha. Nice to meet you girls.” He learns in closer to us. “So… Where’s Mary-Kate?”
“Over there,” I point vaguely into the crowd. “Ashley’s there too. Mary-Kate’s with some creepy older dude.” I had dramatically morphed from “too cool for Us Weekly” to “giving insider tips to the creator of the world’s largest gossip enterprise.”
“Oh yeah, that’s her boyfriend,” Perez explained to me, like I should have known who that man-child was. “He’s French. Nicholas Sarkozy’s brother.”
I chuckled to Perez as if we were lifelong friends. “Well… I guess… You would know that!” Unsurprisingly, Perez did not know how to respond. He grinned half a smile and blinked a couple times before Liz and I retreated to our stalker post behind the stars of Passport to Paris.
The concert carried on in all its angry 90s chick glory, and it was magnificent. I had hoped for a Full House shout-out to the Olsen twins during “You Oughta Know,” which did not happen. It’s OK though, because I will now forever have the mental image of Mary-Kate Olsen screaming “WOULD SHE GO DOWN ON YOU IN A THEATER?” in the face of a French aristocrat. Needless to say, that sight intensified my emotional attachment to the song by tenfold. MK was loving life. Mr. Sarkozy clearly knew none of Alanis’s discography and danced behind Mary-Kate like a goofy dad chaperoning prom.
Ashley seemed pretty bored throughout the whole show. While coked-out Mary-Kate hopped around with the former French President’s brother like the grungy, Francophilic jackrabbit she is, Ashley leaned on the balcony, bobbing along and chatting with a girl whose body disappeared when she turned sideways.
Bored, that is, until Alanis played “Hand In My Pocket” for the encore. Ladies and gentlemen, let the record show that Ashley Olsen has been documented straight-up grooving to “Hand In My Pocket.” Her eyes closed, she rolled her head back and sang more potently than the songwriter herself: “I care but I’m restless/I’m here but I’m really gone/I’m wrong and I’m sorry, baby!” The experience seemed transcendent, as if Ashley had reached a level of ecstasy I surely never will. It became abundantly clear that Ashley had only accompanied Mary-Kate to the concert to hear “Hand in My Pocket.”
Alanis Morissette’s music permeated the depths of Ashley Olsen’s soul and I stared in slackjawed wonder at the entire scenario.