Friday night I went to the Hollywood Bowl for the first time, which a lot of people found surprising (and I, admittedly, find a bit embarrassing), since, until I moved a few weeks ago, I lived within walking distance. But that's just the thing. The worst part about the Hollywood Bowl, everyone knows, is parking in their lots, which means h. bowlers often park in what was my neighborhood, making this wonderful Los Angeles summer ritual into a ritual nightmare for those of us who lived nearby and dreamed of parking any where near our very own homes.

Plus, and more importantly, in the four years that I lived near the bowl, nobody ever said what my friend Michael said to me last week: "I got four free tickets to the Hollywood Bowl Friday night to see Aretha Franklin. Wanna go?"

As much as I regretted not having seen Van Morrison play Astral Weeks last November, I have to say, I was glad to have waited as long as I did to lose my Hollywood Bowl virginity, because the night was perfect. We had VIP parking, which means we pulled right up front and were the first out when the concert let out. It was a warm, beautiful night on one of the longest days of the year. And we had great tickets--in a box. Halle Barry, who was seated two boxes away, didn't have it as good as we did.

What I didn't know, because I'd never been, was that the Hollywood Bowl is really about what you bring to eat and drink there. The four of us just brought what we felt like eating, and we ended up with a really random picnic that included a selection of sliced Italian meats from Mozza, courtesy of Michael. Daryl carried a Marni shopping bag filled with bottles of wine. I went with a traditional picnic theme that included fried chicken, farmers market crudites, Frito's, Oreo's, and checkered cloth napkins. And Ralph brought, among other things, the very same tub of hummous that we later saw Halle eating. I'd also brought a bottle of white wine from Orvietto with a picture of that Umbrian hill town on the label, which is the entire reason I buy this wine—in memory of my Umbrian Holiday that was last summer. But as we sat there and drank our wine and ate our cold fried chicken and dipped our farmers market veggies into that Trader Joe's hummous fit for a star, I had no desire whatsoever to be there, or anywhere but right where I was. It's a simple thing, to want for nothing. Even if only for the time it takes Aretha to say: "You make me feel like a natural woman."

So what's the point of my telling you this? Just to say: When life hands you tickets: take them. Eat. Them. Up.

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