Friday, September 25, 2009

ESSAY: What I Did Over My Summer Vacation (a.k.a., The Long Road to Lambert)


So this part of the blog will have nothing to do with Dubai—aside from the fact that the story I am about to tell would not have been possible but for the fact that I LEFT Dubai in order to chase down a dream (literally—I dreamed about it, a lot; however the specifics of such dreams shall remain ambiguous for the purposes of this family-friendly blog, ahem).

Now if you (A) only read the blog to find out dirt about the UAE; (B) think that the study of and salivation over celebrity heartthrobs is a juvenile waste of time (Editorial note: it IS); or (C) have anything even REMOTELY more important to be doing right now, then I urge you to stop reading. Because I will not be able to give you these minutes of your life back.

IF, on the other hand, you (A) are a fellow devotee of American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert (or, are not a fan, but can concede that his expertly choreographed sex appeal transcends his own personal orientation and could, theoretically, make him IMPOSSIBLY attractive to both gay men and straight women); (B) ever stalked (did I say stalked? I meant “made yourself generally available for becoming acquaintances with”) some other celebrity with a passion usually reserved for first crushes and unrequited love; or (C) are sitting at your desk desperately avoiding some hideous work project, then I offer you this painstakingly chronicled tale of Hollywood romance, heartbreak, and suspense.

Those who know me personally have observed a disturbing transformation taking place in me over the past 8 months: I morphed from a relatively level-headed (ha!) full-time mother of three to an absolutely obsessed-to-the-point-of-distraction (“Leave me alone, kid, I’m watching YouTube!”) fan of Adam Lambert’s. Not sure exactly when I went off the deep end; probably somewhere between “Ring of Fire” and “Mad World” (non-Idol watchers, all you need to know is that there were tight leather pants and a smoke machine involved). Once I was hooked, I was a goner… in fact, I hadn’t been this gaga over a celebrity since I’d slept alongside a t-shirt autographed just for me by Richard Grieco of 21 Jump Street “fame” back in the tenth grade.

The fact that Adam ultimately lost the Idol crown did nothing to temper my adoration: it was clear to me and everyone else who had a head that the reason the gay, Jewish, occasionally flamboyant contestant was defeated by the wholesome, married, flannel-uniformed Christian prayer-leader had very little to do with talent. To the contrary, the defeat only made him *more* desirable: now not only was he sexy, gifted, and gorgeous, he was also the victim of a grave injustice. Poor baby! Mama kiss it and make it better!

So by the time we were preparing for our summer visit to the USA I was spending as much time daydreaming about Adam as I was about my packing strategy (again, for those who know me, this is saying a great deal). I had planned my entire May 8th around the time of day that tickets went on sale for American Idols Live! (punctuation intended), and could now board the plane safe in the knowledge that my center section floor seats had been secured. (Surely it was fate, and not mere coincidence, which situated our visit back to the US smack dab in the middle of the Idol tour schedule, not to mention that there was a concert venue a mere 15 minutes from our house.) Getting the plumb seats was the easy part, though; anyone (with way too much time on her hands) could do that. No, the bounty I was after would require intervention far more divine than the good folks at Ticketmaster could provide.

I HAD TO MEET HIM!!!

Now, this woman who stands before you is no stranger to the art of staging “chance” celebrity encounters; over the years I have learned how to plot an effective hunting strategy and then pick the lamest gazelles (read: most sympathetic security guards) from the pack. But Adam presented a unique challenge: whereas my other targets had usually just passed (or long passed, in some cases) their celebrity peaks, Adam’s star was on the rise, and, I learned from hours of diligent YouTube research, with every tour date the fans were becoming more crazed (those savages!) and the bodyguards were becoming less amused. Not a promising combination.

So I began with the obvious resource: Facebook. (Side note: How did I exist on the planet before Google and Facebook? Was I stupid and friendless?) There I recalled seeing the wife of an old middle school (middle school!!) friend of mine in a series of pictures wherein she was posing with most (though not all—curiously, not Adam) of the American Idol contestants from this season. Well clearly SHE knew someone! I nonchalantly contacted the old middle school friend (Hi, what’s new, have I missed anything over the past 23 YEARS?) and asked if he might be able to pass along a letter to whomever had so royally hooked up his wife. My theory was that on paper, I could craft a sob story to melt the hardest corporate heart. All those years of creative writing classes were about to pay off, baby!

But middle school friend (“MSF”) explained that, unfortunately, the bigwig connection was too tenuous for passing letters along… and gee, it was too bad that I was planning to go see the show in State A at the end of JULY, because his wife was probably going to get hooked up AGAIN with aftershow meet and greet credentials (some people have all the luck!) in State B in the middle of AUGUST. Well here’s where fate stepped in AGAIN. Seriously: our LONG-ago-booked travel itinerary HAPPENED to have us flying into STATE B to visit some family on the VERY SAME DAY AS THAT CONCERT in mid-August!! I mean, come on, people, you can’t make this stuff up. The cosmos agreed that Adam and I were meant to be together. Obviously.

So I delicately BEGGED and PLEADED for MSF’s wife to include me in the hookup and, a mere 75 dollars’ worth of flowers to her law office cubicle later (a small price to pay, in my deranged rationale), I was graciously assured by MSF that his wife “would push for more tickets, and has no reason to think that she would not get the amount she asks for.”

I WAS IN!!!

This was too fantastic. And, even though MSF warned me that he wouldn’t know for sure about the credentials until the end of July, “we have no reason to think otherwise” sounded pretty good to me. I WAS GOING TO MEET ADAM!

Over the next couple of weeks, however, my confidence in “we have no reason to think otherwise” began to wane in the face of “we won’t know for sure until the end of July” and I started to worry. If middle school hookup failed, then I was going to be OUT OF TIME: we were scheduled to return to Dubai just 5 days after the August concert. I needed a backup plan.

Enter my most famous real friend (not to be confused with my other, less authentic celebrity friendships, which typically start off with a bang and then come to an abrupt end when the celebrity suddenly gets a strong—misplaced!—stalker vibe from me at some point). This friend has appeared here previously as “Seacrest,” and he masterminds a celebrity blog that has rightfully earned him all kinds of tv airtime.

So after about a nanosecond of brainstorming, Seacrest gets the brilliant idea to make me an HONORARY REPORTER for his website, and gives me his blessing to seek access to the Idols as a member of the press corps. YAY! and THANK YOU!! And also: easier said than done. It took me a few days just to figure out the right PR contact, and even then, all my charming overtures were met with the steely rejection of people’s voicemailboxes. And neither the starkly professional approach nor the sickeningly sweet approach was garnering any response to my messages.

Two weeks later, I was just about to give up (Seacreast had matter-of-factly informed me that No Return Phone Call = No Dice) when I decided to give it just ONE last try… and this time, I was ACCIDENTALLY transferred to some assistant named ERICA. And, being that she was just a lowly assistant, she actually ANSWERED HER PHONE. Oh HELLOOOO, ERICA! Surely you have heard of me, I’m VERY important! And I just wanted to CONFIRM that I am on the press list for the Idol concert at the end of July, oh I’m SURE my name is there, but you know me, can never be too careful…. WHAT? My name is not there? Well I was ASSURED that I would be issued the appropriate credentials… This MUST be a mistake… Would you be a dear and just follow up on this MINOR oversight? I promise I won’t hold it against your firm in the future! After all, I was once just an assistant JUST LIKE YOU, and I KNOW how much work they heap upon you, SO UNFAIR! Thanks, lovely… See you at the next big industry event!

And, sonofabitch!!, wouldn’tcha know that the very next day, I got a breathless phone call from Seacrest in which he uttered these glorious words, “You’re not going to believe the email I just got... ”

It began,

"We have received your request to attend the American Idols Live! Tour 2009 press opportunities… I can confirm for you the following credentials..."

I WAS IN!!!

In a rising plume of dust I was off to the mall, intent on arming myself with the calling cards of every respectable journalist: Mini cassette recorder complete with full size microphone attachment? Check. Handheld video camera complete with fold-away tripod? Check. Flirty sundress complete with hint of cleavage and a LOOK AT ME! beaded necklace? Check! Fine print of the credential letter be damned (“STILL PHOTOGRAPHY IS NOT PERMITTED DURING THE PRESS HOUR”), I was gonna get my picture with Adam!!

I tossed a short list of questions carelessly into my canary yellow purse/equipment bag (after all, if it got to the point where I was actually INTERVIEWING someone, then something had gone horribly wrong), charged the hell out of my digital camera and, two short (interminable) days later, headed off to the concert venue. Press hour was at 3pm, and the concert didn’t start until 7, which gave me plenty of time to hide out in a bathroom stall and wait for my man if necessary. I packed some emergency provisions just in case.

So what if I parked in the absolute wrong lot and had to jog, barefoot in the rain (hard to run through tall grass in heels), about half a mile around the arena until I found the correct security entrance. So what if some of the other journalists (all women, hmmm) showed up with camera guys and stage lights. So what if, when the Idol tour manager went around the room introducing herself to the 8 of us press people awaiting entry, they all offered their business cards and I offered a bashful smile. ALL THAT MATTERED WAS THAT I WAS MERE MOMENTS AWAY FROM MEETING MY IDOL. Just be cool, I reminded myself.

“Alright, everyone,” said the tour manager woman, her long, ratty braid the perfect complement to her sourpuss facial expression, “I’m sure I don’t have to say this, but I will say it anyway: No photographs, no autographs, no ‘Will you call my grandmother and say happy birthday?’ We are all professionals here and I’m sure you will act like it.”

Wait, did she say something? I’m sorry, I was contemplating my astrological chart. Rising moon… venus… Oh well, certainly it was nothing I can’t figure out on my own.

“And without further ado,” she continued, “here is the list of the five performers who will be doing press interviews today. Matt. Danny. Lil. Megan. Kris. Ok, please gather your things and follow me.”

I wish I could tell you what happened next, but I think I blacked out. Somehow I moved one foot in front of the other, ascended an elevator to a conference room that had been set up with several little cocktail tables and chairs, and stumbled through 5—no wait, 6! (“Reporters, we have a BONUS Idol for you today: I am bringing up Scott MacIntyre!) (SHOOT ME NOW)—interviews (INTERVIEWS!!) of People Who Were Not Adam Lambert. At some point I regained consciousness long enough to bat my eyelashes at the blatantly flirtatious Matt and even slip him my cellphone number after he suggested he might be able to get me into the meet and greet after the show (Editorial note: He never called or texted, don’t buy his album), but mostly I was just staggering through the motions like a zombie. HOW COULD I BE SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR?

At last the unspeakable torment was over (as an aside, Kris was an absolute sweetheart and very cute in person and I almost—ALMOST!—decided to forgive him for using his vast Christian minions to subvert the natural order of the universe). Just as I was packing up my things, I overheard one “Idol” comment to another “Idol” that the PRE-show meet and greet was about to take place in this very room… and I turned around in slow motion only to see ADAM WALKING IN THE DOOR… JUST AS WE “JOURNALISTS” WERE BEING USHERED OUT.

On pure animal instinct, I tried to make a mad dash for him: I needed to make SOME contact, even if it was just a word of sloppy groupie adoration, but that tour manager woman—let’s just call her DREAM CRUSHER for short—wow, she had my number. “EXCUSE ME, YOU ARE DONE HERE,” she announced, not only getting the attention of everyone in the room (Adam included!) but utterly mortifying me in the process. “I’M ALLOWED TO LOOK, AREN'T I?” I weakly shot back. And with that, I was herded out of the room… and straight out of the building. (The security person who was leading the group of us “journalists” outside didn’t even slightly fall for my “You know, I think I left my wallet upstairs, be right back!” routine. Very savvy, these security types.)

And just like that, it was over. I was kicked to the curb, in the rain, with no photo and no interview and only a mini cassette tape of meaningless blathering to show for myself. Needless to say, I sat in my car and cried. And cried. And fashioned a voodoo doll in Dream Crusher’s likeness out of the used tissues and stale Doritos I found in the kids’ car seats. Good luck recovering from THIS headache / backache / broken leg / severed ovary, Dream Crusher!!

It took me a couple of hours to regain my composure. I didn’t even want to go to the concert anymore. But Daddy insisted; being ever the optimist, he assured me that I could still have a good time (foolish man!). So I put on some tight black jeans and a sparkly black top and soldiered on, outwardly intact but inwardly shattered.

Truth be told, the concert wasn’t a total loss: I ditched the impossibly supportive Daddy at intermission so that I could wriggle my way all the way up to the FRONT ROW of the 20,000-seat arena in time for Adam’s set. Yet somehow, the fact that I was standing a mere 2 feet away from the object of my lusty affection while he crooned and wailed and gyrated his otherworldly sex appeal only made me feel worse.

When the show was over, I gathered what was left of my wits and contemplated whether there was any way to salvage this endeavor. Ok, the aftershow meet and greet Matt had told me about. It wasn’t much, and I had neither a credential nor a will to live at that point, but it was something.

So I casually asked a security guard, “Hello, where do we go for the meet and greet?” Giving me a quick once-over, he muttered, “You have your credential? Go to Section 104 and they’ll take you from there.”

Again, did he say something? Sorry, I was doing some quick tax planning in my head, you never want to miss a deduction! I heard something about Section 104, though. Great!

As I found a seat in Section 104, awash in a sea of about 40 people displaying their triangular stick-on credentials so proud and high on their chests that they might as well have been on their foreheads, I plotted my next move. “If you don’t have a sticker,” bellowed one security guard to the group, “don’t bother hanging around.” Hmm, could’a sworn I heard something? Nope. Wind in the trees.

A woman sat down in the empty seat next to me. There was a sudden commotion between the mother and daughter sitting in front of us. Then the woman turned around and said to my new neighbor, “Excuse me, but aren't you ALLISON’s mom?” (For those who are playing at home, Allison is one of the Idols, and Adam’s closest female friend on the tour.) Through a contented smile, and with a Spanish accent, the squinty-eyed woman said, “Yes…”

There was no time to process this information; my mouth was on autopilot. “Oh, wow,” I unknowingly sighed, “I am a HUGE fan of your daughter’s. In fact, you may not believe this, but I flew all the way from DUBAI to meet her!” The lady’s eyes widened. “Goodness, thank you! Are you coming upstairs? Do you have a credential?” I puppy dogged my eyes: “No, I don’t have a credential. But I am planning on staying here until they kick me out. I traveled so far to meet Allison, I’m not giving up without a fight!” The woman patted my hand and said, “You wait here, honey, I’ll get you a credential.” And she got up and walked away.

I WAS IN!!!

And then, I wasn’t. “I’m so sorry, dear,” said the Mother Who Clearly Hadn’t Tried Hard Enough as she sat back down next to me a few minutes later, “but the man who is issuing the credentials has already closed up his desk.” “But! But!” I stammered. “Surely they can’t throw me out if I’m with YOU.” She shook her head. “No, even my immediate family needs to have credentials. I’m sorry. They won’t let you in without one. It’s too bad.” Aw, lady, good luck getting rid of me that easily. “No problem,” I said defiantly, “I’ll just stick with you as long as I can.”

When the scary-looking head of security guy made the announcement that we should stand up, follow him, and make sure that our stickers were visibly placed on our persons, I ignored the unmistakable leave-me-alone vibes that were suddenly emanating from Allison’s mother, and followed close behind her. And when it came time for us to be spot checked by scary-looking head of security at the doorway to the VIP room, I conveniently folded my arms across my chest (Oops! Am I covering up my sticker! Silly me!) and planted myself so firmly in an intense (one-sided) conversation with Allison’s mom that I was practically daring the security guy to interrupt our emotional heart-to-heart. And you know what? He didn’t!

I WAS IN!!!

The first Idol I spotted was Allison, and so, in keeping with the good karma that her mother had unwillingly bestowed upon me, I rushed up to her, delivered the same line of BS about coming from Dubai just to see her, and got our photo taken together. Once that little item of business was out of the way, I started furiously searching the room for Adam. Adam?... ADAM? WHERE ARE YOU, LOVER??

My pulse quickened as I realized that he hadn’t arrived yet. WHERE WAS HE, I DIDN’T HAVE MUCH TIME! I was just checking my watch when my eyes happened upon a sight that, to this very day, sends a cold shudder down my spine:

THE PIERCING EYES OF DREAM CRUSHER, SET FIRMLY ON ME.

I instantly averted my gaze, down to the floor, up to the ceiling, anywhere but towards the laser beams coming forth from her head. Dum, de dum dum dum… just standing around, taking in the scenery… what a neat light fixture! antique?

In a superhuman flash, Dream Crusher was standing right next to me. “DON’T I KNOW YOU FROM THE PRESS HOUR TODAY?” she sputtered. “Nope,” I said cheerfully, turning away from her and hoping like hell that my witness-protection-program disguise (a change of eyeglass frames) would confuse her. I actually thought I had DODGED THE BULLET as she wandered away… yet my relief was not only unfounded, but terribly short-lived.

“CAN I SEE YOUR CREDENTIAL?” boomed the voice of the surly head of security guy.

“I’m a guest of Allison’s family!” (lie.)

“Come with me please.”

“No, wait, I was personally invited here by Allison’s mother!” (lie.)

“Come with me please.”

“I can’t leave now, she wouldn’t know how to find me!” (she'd be thrilled to see me kicked out.)

“I’ll tell her where you are. Are you coming with me or am I calling for someone to remove you?”

This man never smiled. In fact, he never blinked. And he didn’t at all appreciate that hey! I’m no criminal, I’m a fan! This is fun stuff, music, concerts, autographs! Let’s have a good time! Woohoooo! No, he didn’t see it that way at all.

Before I knew it, I had been physically delivered by this man—this monster!—let’s call him THE HENCHMAN—out of the VIP room and into the hallway. HOW COULD IT BE OVER FOR ME ALREADY—WHEN ADAM HADN’T EVEN ENTERED THE ROOM YET?

I pulled out EVERY weapon in my arsenal: I begged (“Please, I need to see Allison’s mom, she would be so offended if I didn’t at least say thank you”); I wept (“You have no idea how far I have traveled for this!”); and, in what turned out to be a fantastically WRONG move, I name-dropped: “Ask [DREAM CRUSHER]! She knows me!”

The Henchman’s eyes settled into a cold stare. “She’s the one who sent me. IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO LEAVE.” He turned to a nearby security lackey. “Bob, take this young lady out of the building.”

The Henchman went back into the VIP room. I promptly attempted all the same tricks on Bob (minus the tragic name-dropping). He frowned sympathetically, but said, “Miss. I’m sorry. But that’s the boss. If he says you leave, then you leave. Don’t make me get a policeman up here.”

I cried all the way down the elevator, hoping that SOMEONE would take pity on me. And then… someone did!

When the doors opened, I was deposited squarely in front of two twenty-something girls walking by. I guess they overheard a snipet of my sob story, because one said to me charitably, “Hey, you need a credential? Here, take mine, we’re leaving.” Then she effortlessly peeled the sticker off her shirt and, as she extended her hand to me in a ray of light that was breaking forth from the heavens, I couldn’t help but think

I WAS IN!!!

Well, as you might have guessed, The Henchman wasn’t exactly waiting for me with open arms and a congratulatory “You did it, kid!” In fact, when Bob alerted him that I was back—WITH a credential this time!—he apparently responded with an unambiguous directive. Said Bob: “There’s no WAY you’re getting back in there, Miss. It’s time for you to leave.”

A new, even less well humored security guard had been called to take me downstairs, and this time, with nothing left to lose, I allowed my sobbing to get louder and more dramatic. Right before we reached the double doors leading out of the building and into the MASSES of fans standing behind barricades (hoping to catch a glimpse of Adam, no doubt), I played my very last hand: “Ok, ok, you win: I’ll just sit here and wait for my party.” And I sat, pathetically, on the floor amongst the row of dumpsters near the exit. “Sorry, Miss, you need to go outside.” “I’M SITTING WITH THE GARBAGE CANS FOR CHRISSAKES. HAVEN’T YOU HUMILIATED ME ENOUGH??”

They hadn’t. For a second time in one day, I was dumped on the curb outside the arena. I couldn’t tell if it was my time amongst the garbage bins or the stench of my own failure, but something was making me feel a bit ill.

It goes without saying that I cried the whole way home.

[Editor’s note: If there was any consolation to that disappointing night, it was that Adam never DID appear at the meet and greet, nor did he go out to the barricades to wave to fans and sign autographs. Something about a stalker.] [WHICH WAS NOT ME, thank you very much.]

Well, after this EPIC FAIL of a day, all of my Adam eggs were now in the middle school friend basket. Hey, I love my middle school! Remind me to send them a check!

And then, three days before the August show (and after I had sent MSF several increasingly urgent messages asking whether my beloved meet and greet credential had arrived yet), THIS bombshell of an email landed on my virtual doorstep:

“RE: BAD NEWS.

[My wife] just heard back from her contact and I am afraid I have bad news. Long story short, he told her that there are a bunch of new "procedures" in place and because of that, he cant get her any tickets for the show and meet and greet so she wont be going. She is really really bummed about it and all I can say is how SORRY I am that we weren’t able to make this happen for you. I know what a huge fan you are and how disappointed you must be. I am SO SORRY!”

This time, I was absolutely, positively NOT. IN.

Where did this leave me? Did I board the plane back to Dubai in 8 days, a FAILURE? Or did I up the ante, pull out all the stops, and, to borrow a mantra from everyone’s favorite fashion cheerleader, MAKE IT WORK?

If you know anything about our heroine, you know the answer. At this point, it wasn’t just about meeting my Idol (THOUGH IT WAS CERTAINLY STILL ABOUT THAT); my personal integrity was also very much at stake. I had promised myself that I would make this happen (every time Daddy asked me what I wanted for my 35th birthday, which was only 2 days away, my perpetual reply was MY PICTURE WITH ADAM), and I wasn’t giving up until I was literally airborne, en route back to Dubai.

Delicately managing me in the way that I imagine sane people manage the insane, Daddy made the reasonable argument that, between grade school and high school and college and graduate school and our gainful employment experiences in Los Angeles, we must know *SOMEONE* with the “IN” I was looking for. It was just a matter of figuring out who, in a vast sea of friends and acquaintances and spouses and dentists and in-laws, was holding my golden ticket. As in, the most inane brain teaser ever.

And so, casting off whatever shred of dignity that remained, I sent out a slew of groveling emails that went something like this: HAVE LOST MY MIND. PLEASE HELP ME MEET ADAM LAMBERT. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME. But alas, each and every single message was returned with an apology and a “Good luck!” And time was running out. (In fairness, I must say that dear, dear Seacrest did suggest that I use his good name AGAIN and try to get ANOTHER press pass as a representative of his website… but my love for him is far too great to risk any [further?] damage to his professional reputation.) Thus, like a warrior on a solo mission, it had come down to ME and ME alone. I was going to GO to that August performance, damnit, and THIS TIME, I was not coming back empty-handed.

So great was my fear of another run-in with Dream Crusher and The Henchman that I promptly ruled out the postshow meet and greet as an option. Nay, my new strategy was OPERATION BARRICADE: despite the countless YouTube videos showing that whenever Adam appeared outside these arenas, the mob turned absolutely barbaric, my plan was to SO STAND OUT in the crowd that Adam would have NO CHOICE but to give me a heartfelt hug and take a well-lit photo with me. My mission: be utterly irresistible!

I went straight to my trusty computer and custom ordered a one-of-a-kind tank top that screamed, in all caps, “I KISSED ADAM LAMBERT!!”— assuming that, if I cleverly put it in the past tense, Adam would have no choice (barring some gross violation of the rules of logic) but to oblige. Additionally, I was already in fortunate possession of this incredible vinyl purse that some poor sap had handmade out of Adam’s Rolling Stone cover (thank you, ebay!). Thus, the shirt + the bag + my UNCONTROLLED PASSION surely = MY PHOTO WITH ADAM!!!

Having learned a while back that even my backup plan needed a backup plan, however, against my better judgment I revisited the meet and greet credential one last time.

Now let me tell you a little bit about this sticker. Made of cloth, it originally boasted a shiny veneer and crisp triangular edges. Several weeks later, it was not quite as crisp; in fact the only thing that retained its initial vibrancy was the ORIGINAL FREAKING DATE, which BOLDLY DECLARED, in BLACK PERMANENT MARKER, “ 7 / 29 ” (!!!!). Houston, we have a problem.

I tried my damnest to obliterate that godforsaken 7/29 (or was it 666?), knowing that I was going to have to SOMEHOW seamlessly convert it to a NOT-AT-ALL-similarly-shaped 8/11. I tried soap. I tried bleach. I tried nail polish remover. At my wits’ end, I tried White-Out. But instead of returning the sticker to its pre-Sharpie state, all I did was MUTILATE THE HELL out of this otherwise innocent piece of fabric. By the time I “finished,” what was left was a barely recognizable triangle and a VERY OBVIOUS expanse of White-Out. Even Daddy had to shake his head skeptically when I showed him the final product, which of course gave me reason to instigate a big, irrational fight with him. (Daddy! How dare you tell me the truth! Don’t you know loonies like to be LIED to?)

Ok, so the sticker was now officially crap. But I had my t-shirt and I had my purse and I had an indefatigable WILL TO SUCCEED! So I bought a ticket for the August 11 show (Hey kids! Come quick to watch another $90 swirling down the drain!) and tried so SO hard not to visualize the infinite possible scenarios in which this was NOT going to work out in my favor.

Show day. Daddy and I have an absolutely miserable flight transporting the rugrats from State A to State B. Screamer lives up to her name and, from the airport to the hotel and beyond, throws a top-tier tantrum that lasts about, oh, 2 hours and ends up with me physically restraining her in the hotel parking lot much to the horror of a bevy of geriatric onlookers who SHOULD HAVE BEEN MINDING THEIR OWN DAMN BUSINESS. Good times! When the hour arrives for me to get in my rental car and begin the 2-hour drive to the concert venue (go ahead, judge me, I can take it), I am already SHATTERED. I can’t find my concert clothes in any of our fourteen (14!!) suitcases, I can’t get the kids to go to bed, and, most critically, I CAN’T FIND MY I KISSED ADAM T-SHIRT! (and I’m too embarrassed to tell Daddy about it, so he can’t even help me look for it.)

FINALLY, FINALLY, twenty minutes after I’d planned to be on the road, I find the t-shirt and grab the Adam purse and thank Daddy for his unending patience and get in the car. It’s GO time.

Unexpectedly, the drive transforms me. The woman who climbed into that dingy gold-colored Buick—harried, strung out, beaten down—was not the woman who climbed out: refreshed, determined, and, damn it, happy! I had loved cruising down familiar highways listening to familiar radio stations and watching the sunset over familiar skylines. I had so enjoyed the break from the rugrats, who had been MAKING. ME. SUPER. CRAZY. for the past several weeks (years). And I had recaptured the gumption that had been drained out of me over the course of my many near-misses to date: TONIGHT I WAS GOING TO MEET ADAM!!

I pulled into the parking lot of the arena with my heart in my throat and my mangled credential stuffed deep into my purse. And not a moment too soon: the clothing fiasco had burned up so much time that it was already INTERMISSION when I swung open the hockey-sweat-covered glass doors. As usual, I had to move fast.

“Excuse me,” I said sweetly to a group of unkempt, oversized ticket-punchers manning the turnstiles, all of whom were better suited to a macho sporting event than a girly tv-show-inspired musicale. “Can you tell me where the barricades will be set up after the show for the autograph signing?” Cue the winning smile.

A craggy white-haired guy pulled a folded-up piece of paper out of his pocket, scanned it, and unceremoniously declared, “You missed it. Happened at 4:30 this afternoon.” Then he resumed his conversation elsewhere.

I shook my head politely, feeling sorry for this guy that he was so clearly misinformed. “Excuse me, no, I mean, after the shows, the performers always come out to meet the fans. Always. So how can I find out where that will be?”

Exasperatedly, he reviewed the paper again, and I could see that it was, indeed, a timetable of events. He shook his head. “No, there’s NOTHING going on after the show. The autographs ALREADY HAPPENED. Sorry.” (he was so clearly not.)

Suddenly, my head started spinning. Before I could edit them, the following unplanned words spewed forth from my lips: “BUT I HAVE A CREDENTIAL FOR THE MEET AND GREET!” At which point, the vision of my demented sticker presented itself to me and laughed its ass off.

The ticket-puncher checked his paper for a third time. He was getting annoyed. “NO, you missed that, too. It was a PRE-show meet and greet, and it happened at 4 pm.”

Now I was actually frozen. Someone was playing a joke on me. Without my participation, the lies started coming fast and furious: “BUT I DROVE UP HERE FROM GEORGIA FOR THIS. I HAVE BEEN ON THE ROAD FOR DAYS. I WAS TOLD IT WAS AN AFTERSHOW MEET AND GREET…”

And just like that, the curtain fell on my charade, and my eyes began overflowing with big, fat, REAL tears. Even if I hadn’t driven up from Georgia (WTF? Georgia??), I HAD devoted hours and hours on this ridiculous project and spent plenty of the money Daddy and I were supposed to be saving (video camera, cassette recorder, personalized t-shirt, second concert ticket, etc., etc., etc.) AND stripped myself of every shred of dignity before my family and friends… and it was all going to end like THIS?

“If you don’t mind,” I said quietly to the heartless ticket puncher man, “I’m just going to stand here and cry.”

Which is exactly what I did. I put my head up against the clammy tile wall of the sports arena and I wept stupid, defeated tears.

Moments later, I heard the ticket puncher’s voice behind me, but this time, it had lost its edge. “Ok, you’re in.”

“What?”

“You’re in. I spoke to the head of security and explained your mistake and he said you could go to some aftershow meet and greet in Section 102, although I don’t know anything about it and don’t know how many people will be there.”

I forgot to breathe.

“But wait.” The edge in his voice was back. “There are different color credentials for the different nights. To get in tonight, you need a GREEN STICKER.”

At which point I reached into my tacky Adam Lambert Rolling Stone vinyl purse and, with trembling hand,

PULLED

OUT

A

GREEN

STICKER

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The angels sang, the sun exploded in the sky, a grinning unicorn danced gaily past.

I WAS IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The next hour was a blur of racing thoughts and semi-enjoyable musical performances (Adam’s excepted, of course; it goes without saying that his songs were exuberant)—my emotions were fluctuating between unadulterated joy and utter terror (I was actually going to have to let my tattered, fraudulent “credential” see the light of day??). I kept reminding myself, however, that the fact that it was GREEN sticker night HAD to be more than just coincidence, and was instead some sign from the universe that THIS WAS REALLY, TRULY, FINALLY GOING TO HAPPEN. Screw the knot in my stomach, I was going to see this through to the bitter end. It was my only. chance. left.

The show ended (much to closing act Kris Allen’s relief, I’m sure; who in his right mind would elect to follow the hair-raising “Whole Lotta Love” with a down-tempo “Hey Jude” sing-a-long simultaneously being broadcast in sleepaway camps round the world?). But I was in no rush to head over to section 102: I needed to survey the scene and determine just how risky this was going to be. Hey, maybe, in another incredible stroke of luck, EVERYONE’s credentials would have a patch of White-Out?? (no.)

Ok, so the number of people assembling in the designated area was pretty large, which was good because I could potentially blend in, but bad because it might mean having to knock people over to get to my man (though I was ruling nothing out). My next assignment was finding a wingman who could envelop me in a protective shield of friendly chit-chat as needed (and it WOULD, I was positive, be needed).

Strategically positioning my purse strap across my chest in an attempt to hide the fluorescent patch of white on my sticker (not an easy task when said strap is made of CHAIN LINK), I took a seat in the third row. I tried chatting up the lady to my right, a bored-looking thirtysomething friend of one of the backup singers who said she’d never watched the show on tv. She didn’t qualify for the position because her lack of interest meant she might leave at any time, and oh—because she insisted on taking my PHOTO (“I told my friend that I would document this for her”) which suggested that she was probably an undercover American Idol cop gathering evidence against me. Bye!

So I turned to the girls on my left: two pimply teenagers in the midst of their orthodontic crises. They were yammering and texting incessantly and one was shivering like a Chihuahua with uncontrollable excitement. Noticing my Adam purse set her off on an 8-minute run-on sentence regarding her own Adam obsession: i.e., Adam’s shoe size, the fact that she had recently thrown a party to commemorate Adam’s HALF birthday, how she and a friend became a YouTube sensation when a video of them going postal while watching Adam lose the title garnered over 70,000 hits. While not ideal by any stretch—I didn’t need this freakshow passing out or throwing up at a critical moment—the teenagers were going to have to suffice. “Listen,” I told them firmly, in the same tone I use to speak to my unruly 4-year-old, “we need each other. I need you to take my photo, and you guys need me to take yours. If one of you will operate my digital camera and one of you will operate my video camera, I will not only take your picture with Adam, but I will also videotape it and send it to you via YouTube. Deal?” They dreamily agreed, with visions of their next viral video dancing in their heads.

So there we sat, waiting… waiting… waiting. People were beginning to get restless. And then I witnessed this depressing exchange: a security guard who was making small talk with some people in the front row muttered, “I don’t even know why you people stick around for these meet and greet things. I mean, they’re purely optional—the performers are under no obligation to attend—so why waste your time hoping to get four or five autographs?”

My stomach dropped. This sad piece of information explained Adam’s non-appearance at my first meet and greet attempt: why WOULD he show up for this fanfest if he didn’t HAVE to? Why NOT preserve his voice and his mysteriousness? Further complicating things, earlier that night I had spotted Adam’s new boyfriend in the VIP section of the arena (I recognized him from the tabloids, natch), giving Adam yet another legitimate reason to bail. I turned to Chihuahua, trying to disguise my own disappointment: “Look, that guy just said that the Idols are not obligated to attend these things. And I have a friend who went to a meet and greet a few weeks ago, and Adam didn’t show up there, either. So I just want you to know it’s possible that we won’t see him tonight, k?” The girl looked horrified. “But if I don’t meet Adam I WILL DIE!” I let her wallow in her panic for a minute; better here than in the VIP room.

At last a security guard addressed the group. “Folks, sorry for the delay. Please stand up and follow me in an orderly manner. Make sure your green stickers are visible. We will be checking them at the door.” Not unlike a somber congregation on the high holidays, we silently rose. I held that freaking chain strap so firmly in place over the White-Out on my sticker that I almost cracked my sternum. The line began inching slowly past a security guy checking stickers at the door… and when it was our turn to be evaluated, I used my best giddy teenager voice to engage my accomplices in vapid conversation (here’s when I’m actually grateful that my elfin stature and baby face have seemingly frozen me in the 11th grade) and made no eye contact with anyone. A few E X C R U C I A T I N G moments later, and

I WAS IN!!!!

There was no time to waste; was it just me, or in this room had the White-Out taken on the obnoxious glow of a lightstick at a rave?? I rapidly surveyed the crowded VIP room like a cyborg with built-in retina scanning technology. No Adam. NO ADAM! Other Idols were there in abundance: my good friend Allison… there was Kris Allen milling about… (and, if you watched the show, you’ll join me in taking a moment to feel sad for poor, bohunky Michael Sarver, who was standing in a corner with pen in hand and absolutely no one approaching him for an autograph). My heart began its slow, familiar descent from my chest into my stomach as the reality set in: he wasn’t going to show. Again. I was in my own personal, nightmarish, Groundhog’s Day. And just as I turned to my fragile companions to break the bad news, my gaze happened to fall upon some shimmery blue eye shadow…

ADAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At 6’1”, he towered over the dense, bustling crowd that swarmed madly around him, his smile beaming good-naturedly as they all clamored to touch him. And just as the crowd parted slightly to allow me to drink in the glorious sight of him, a sudden black cloud eclipsed the sunshine radiating from Adam’s aura, and an ominous darkness filled the room. Standing to his right, I noticed, stood Adam’s own personal security detail:

THE
HENCHMAN.

Attention heart: Go directly back to stomach. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. In fact, GAME OVER.

I tried to swallow but my mouth was a desert. Please, universe, not AGAIN! The Henchman was going to recognize me, he was going to throw me out; in fact, he was probably going to call the cops (not only was I a repeat offender, but now I had the added allure of surfacing in two different, non-contiguous states; maybe I WAS the stalker!). And, ONCE MORE, it was all going to go down IN FRONT OF ADAM. There would be no picture (AND HERE I WAS, LITERALLY SO CLOSE!!!), and furthermore, I was now destined to become the laughingstock of the entire Idol tour. Could this really be happening to our heroine, who had endured so much? Was this truly how the story was going to end??

Deciding it would be appropriate to play my violin on the upper deck of the Titanic as it sank (ADAM OR BUST!!), I ignored the forceful animal instinct to flee, and turned to my teenage compatriots and said, in an overly-controlled voice, “Ok. HE IS HERE. Stay calm, and follow me.” We took our places at the end (ok, middle, sue me, I was about to go to jail) of the vaguely formed line as I frantically attempted to somehow FURTHER alter my appearance from the last time The Henchman tossed my ass to the street. I removed my glasses (no glasses at all this time, that'll throw him!) and my beloved necklace bearing the names of the kids (who knows? maybe he is so highly trained in security measures that he inventories such minute details when faced with an imposter!) and tied my hair into a tiny knot (try to look bald!). Vanity be damned—all that mattered was that one flash of the camera. I could always photoshop glamour into my appearance later.

With every fraction of every minute that passed, the odds of my trespass being discovered exponentially increased. There was my Adam, pleasantly posing for pictures, signing autographs, receiving garishly homemade manifestos of devotion; and all the while The Henchman was methodically giving each person in the room a wary, dirty look. He barked out instructions to the masses: “Stand back!” “One at a time!” “Step aside!” “No, Adam cannot talk to anyone on the phone for you!” as I was trying to make myself as physically small as possible. Exacerbating my growing nausea was the sudden DISTRESSING realization that, if The Henchman was here, and accompanied the Idols on every stop of the tour—oh LORD—so, TOO, probably was DREAM CRUSHER….!!

I aggressively willed the line to move faster. At any moment, I was certain, SHE would appear in my peripheral vision, identifying me to the federal authorities with a bony finger and cackling like the Wicked Witch… or HE would have a little lightbulb appear over his head (of graying, longish, can’t-let-go-of-my-youth hair) and lick his lips like a carnivore closing in on his next meal. TICK, TICK, TICK went the seconds… THUD, THUD, THUD went the blood rushing past my ears…

And then. It was time. I was two feet away from Adam. The entire summer—hell, my entire life!—had led me to this moment.

At which point, OH NO!!!, The Henchman laid his beady eyes squarely on me and opened his chapped lips and

through the deafening drumbeat of my rapidly pounding heart

I was just barely able to make out the following words as they fell heavily from his mouth:

“YOUR TURN, SWEETHEART.”

Whereupon he kinda smiled.


There are no words to adequately describe the next 29 seconds of my life (thank goodness the teenagers semi-captured them on video, otherwise I would be chalking the whole thing up to a wishful hallucination). Without dragging you through the smarmy details, about which I could go on for ANOTHER 20 screens (i.e., the brilliantly intuitive placement of my hand on Adam’s broad chest, the dewy contact that my forehead made with his heavily pancaked cheek as we leaned against each other, the delicious smack that my lips made against the side of his face as I kissed him, etc.), suffice it to say that, after all this,

MOMMY
GOT
EXACTLY
WHAT
SHE
WANTED
FOR
HER
35th
BIRTHDAY.

Hey, I may be an atheist, but even *I* know a damn miracle when I see it! ☺☺☺

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


p.s. Endless thanks to Daddy and Seacrest for actively enabling my mental illness, and to PopPop for giving me the firm instruction NOT TO COME BACK WITHOUT THAT PICTURE, EVEN IF IT INVOLVES SPENDING A COUPLA NIGHTS IN THE CLINK. I love you men more than words can say. xoxoxoxoxo.

p.p.s. In response to some inquiries, I can't post the climactic photo, silly: on this blog I'm "anonymous"!

p.p.s. To the haters who read this post and are suggesting that I should *actually* be locked up: lighten up, please. You clearly don't know dramatic embellishment when you see it, and also, who invited you, anyway?

12 comments:

Persona Non Grata said...

You and my sister should meet for coffee. I thought she was the only one... great read. I enjoyed it!

vicarabelling said...

I'm so glad you got to meet Adam. I wish I had the guts to do what you did!

Kaleyyyy said...

Wow. Just wow. Tears in my eyes. What an inspiring story. I only wish to fulfill my dream of sharing the same oxygen as Adam Lambert one day... to let his breath caress my skin as we pose for a picture, makeup-cheek to make-up cheek... to allow his cerulean eyes to make contact with mine, if only for a split second... To see that raven hair in person...

Simply divine. Thank you for sharing. I hope in the future I will be successful as my new role model... You. :)

Jenny said...

This was one of the greatest fan encounters I've ever read!!!!!!! I wish I could have had the initiative and dedication to do this...it makes me disappoint in myself. But yay!!!!! Congratulations on your unicorn :D

Chelle said...

Oh my gosh! I would never have the crafty skills needed for such an endeavor. I love Adam soooo much but I would be too shy to go to such extreme lengths to meet him. Don't mind the people saying that you're a nutter! We have to do whatever is humanly possible for our God of Glitter!!

JustAName said...

I read your story, and I think it was hilarious. Side note: As for the folks from that community with over 500 comments now posted, give me a break, learn to recognise creativity when you see it. It's easy to jeer at something you wouldn't have the guts or resources to try yourselves.

I admire your spirit lady, and also your writing style; it could only have been inspired, rofl. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta. And the important thing is that you didn't hurt anyone. I can tell you're a more serious person than indicated here on a usual day. Haha!

Mama said...

You are so cute. I think it is awesome that you went all out to meet this very talented kid. He's so lucky to have a fan like you. I'm sure most of his fans are not nearly as gorgeous, talented, and accomplished!

It's fun, isn't it, to have someone to crush on when your day to day life is so completely... well, not normal, maybe, but definitely mundane in terms of diapers, potty-training, and teeth-brushing? Good for you. Let it be a lesson: dare to dream!

Life is but a dream said...

Your story reminded me of what I did. I sneaked in a meet and greet for Season 1. I traveled to Cleveland for a show, since the show was no where near me and that was the closest location.

It was pure luck, but it was meant to be and I don't regret it one bit.

Here's what happened:

Earlier in the day I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and after you pay admission, you get issued a purple wristband. As it turned out, the Idol's meet and greet wristband to get admission was also purple and I still had it on from earlier that day. The security guard didn't look too closely and only noticed the color...Ta Da, I was in and met all the Idols, got autographs, and photos. Pure luck! I still have the purple wristband. It's my lucky wristband!!

SeenZ said...

You rock! I wish I could've done what you did. Meeting Adam is currently my only goal in life. But of course, I'm stuck in Dubai. So good to see another crazy Glambert from Dubai, btw! We should get together for coffee and compare Rolling Stones :D

your ordinary girl said...

love to meet another adam lambert addict! nice essay!

Vote! said...

Congratulations on your success and your highly entertaining "summary." Thank you for sharing the drive that keeps all of us "usually normal", true fanatics hunting on the internet what we can't hunt in person.

Glam_Poodle said...

OMG - you are my f**king hero! I'm so proud of you! What would have laid waste of other, lesser women (such as myself) you stood tall against the forces of evil and did it! You did it! Oh I was so pulling for you at the end. I know it's a cliche but this proves that dreams really can come true. Years from now you must send this to Adam. Maybe you will be his hero too.