Note: this is pretty lengthy, probably too long but its intended more for me as a reminder of the details and the experience than anything else.
My list of things to do before I’m thirty, aka Motivation to Spend the Next Year Living, included a couple of things that already happened this year. Like I said, it’s my list and I’ll pad it if I want to!
#10. Party with celebrities
#66. Meet a songwriter whose work I know and love
January 22, 2011
If you’re looking for names or juicy gossip or any of that other fun stuff, you’ll be disappointed. You can click away, I’ll understand. Honestly, even if I was to tell you who it was you may not even care. Things like music and celebrity are pretty subjective in my opinion. Someone else may turn into a blubbering mess meeting a “celebrity” that someone else may not care about or even recognize. Someone famous in my little world may not be but a blip on the radar to anyone else. Besides, I’m not sure it really matters who it was, but that it happened.
It was the work of a thousand coincidences, or the universe smiling upon us that night as I prefer to believe, that led to me and a friend standing in between two musicians in a glorified Applebee’s exchanging silent “oh my God is this really happening” looks (and texts across the table, because we’re huge dorks like that).
The show was an hour and a half away from home at a venue neither K nor I had been to before. Yes, we’re spoiled living where most major venues are a 20 minute ride away. An hour and a half was “going away” for a show. We left my house early in the afternoon, as it turned out much earlier than we needed to, with the threat of snow on the radar. We climbed in my car, laughing and singing until about ten miles south of our destination when the roads got slick. The music was turned down and knuckles turned white and we eventually made our way off the freeway and into the downtown area. We found the arena, our destination for the night, and set about looking for a place to grab a quick bite to eat and a couple drinks before the show. Beers are $8.50 a piece a concert nowadays, a girl’s gotta plan ahead. It’s a little thing we like to call ‘pre-gaming.’’
Cue the white out conditions. Thanks, Mother Nature! The light snow turned into a blizzard-like mess in about three minutes. Roads were covered with snow and the wind was whipping it around so bad we could barely see street lights in front of us. I grew up in Michigan and have lived here all my life. A little snow doesn’t scare me. But this? This was Canadian-like conditions. When all else fails, blame Canada. I expected Mounties and a moose to cut in front of the car at any moment. Thankfully I’d had the idea of printing a list of local hotels before we left. On the off chance that some freak storm blew in while we’re throwing our hands in the air and singing out hearts out that night, we would be ready. I’d like to thank the Girl Scouts of America and my mother for teaching me to prepare for such situations. We pulled into the next parking lot and called a few hotels, all of whom were booked. A few calls later we lucked out and found a rather nice hotel that had a suite available at a ridiculously low price. When I asked for directions it was then that I looked up through squeaky wipers and realized we were in the damn parking lot. We checked in a few short minutes later and went up to the room. Open the curtains – done snowing. Oddly bright out. We’d already checked in and paid so we were in it for the night. Once again, thanks Mother Nature!
We went to the show. Seats incredibly close, hands thrown in the air (because really? We truly didn’t care), voices almost shot by the end of the night. We drank, we laughed, I got hit in the head with K’s cell phone when she was trying to take pictures. Good times!
A few hours later, adrenaline pumping in that post concert high and ears ringing, we made our way out the door where I promptly fell on my ass. Salt, people. It melts ice. LOOK INTO IT!
We headed back in the general direction of the hotel, wanting to grab a drink somewhere close by in case the funky weather picked up again. Thanks to the hilarious and confusing GPS on K’s phone (affectionately nicknamed Sally – woah oh oh Sally, ooh that girl!) we ended up in the backside of an industrial sub. Twenty minutes later we finally made our way out and ended up at the destination Sally had chosen for us. Apparently the ‘bar’ part of ‘nearest bar’ is open for interpretation but hey, they served liquor. We weren’t sure if the place was even open until a couple of men walked in. We parked the car and made our way inside. The young waiter told us to sit wherever we’d like. Still feeling giggly and slight deaf from the concert, we sat far away from everyone else on the most empty side of the restaurant, not wanting to ruin anyone’s late dinner with our giddiness. We set up shop at the end of a long table and ordered drinks by pointing to the ones that looked the best on the menu. About twenty minutes later, we had neighbors. Old neighbors. Walkers and greyhairs galore. K & I shared a look and I held up my phone, showing that it was almost midnight. What were these people doing out so late? I mean, hey, more power to them. It’s not often you see a group of older adults, the oldest age 87 as we found out later, out having drinks on weekend. They group of 25 or so filled in the tables around us and we couldn’t help but overhear that they had been at the same show we had been just an hour before. A ROCK SHOW. THE GUY IS 87. Props, sir. Mad props.
As we slowly became surrounded by blue hairs we were curious and quit talking in order to eavesdrop. You do it too, stop looking at me like that. Then a few younger folks filtered in and mingled with the geriatric section. Family, as it turns out.
One “hey I like your shirt” from K to one of the only people there around our age turned the night around. “Oh that’s my band.” (I know, I nearly rolled my eyes too, but he seemed nice enough.) “I’m gonna sit with you guys.” Twenty minutes later the guy, who we’ll call Voodoo, said “You know that’s my cousin J over there, he’s in the band [of the show we attended that night].” Turn around – sure enough! How did we miss him come in? Damn you, two ways into a restaurant.
We tried to play it cool. We were so unaffected by this by all outward appearances. Oh your cousin? That’s cool, I guess. Yeah, we’ve only seen him about 30 times in the last five years. Totally don’t want to meet him or anything. No please don’t bother him. He’s here with his family, we don’t want to bug him. Let him be normal for a night and not hounded. Oh you called him over here? Oh it’s no bother? Well if you insist. Well I guess if you wouldn’t mind taking a picture. Sure we can act like we do this all the time.
Then, Oh look! Another band member. What’s that? Oh nice to meet you. No we were just having a drink after the show and happened to end up here by accident.
At this point, the poor waiter was working by himself and did not expect a small crowd of 50 people to invade at once. There was a bar/restaurant full of people, 1 waiter, 1 bartender and the manager. We waited FOREVER for a second round of drinks.
“You know we got some drinks out in the limo, we can go grab something and then come back in.”
Why yes, rock star extraordinaire, we will in fact go to the parking lot and drink outside with you and totally pretend we’re not affected by your mere presence. And yes, I will pretend not to know that you’ve written a handful of my favorite songs. That you’ve penned lyrics that made me back up and rewind the song a bit just to hear that line again because HOLY SHIT that does that line hit me right in the chest. It’s totes not a big deal. I’m cool, I use non-words like ‘totes’. (No worries, I didn’t actually SAY totes out loud. I don’t think. I was drinking whiskey out of the bottle with rock stars. My memory may be a little hazy.)
Back inside, we take family photos of the large group because we’re in and that’s what you do when you’re in. It was Uncle Jerry’s birthday! Sure we’ll use twelve cameras you gave us so you all get one. Sure I’ll “yell” at an amazing guitarist to focus because he’s talking and ruining the picture. Sure we’ll slip our camera in the bunch so we get one too without looking all stalkery and fangirl about it.
An hour later, I’m standing between a guitarist/songwriter I’ve loved for YEARS and a piano player I’ve cheered for over the same amount of time. I’m laughing at stories and making smart joking remarks and teasing and getting laughs back. I’m hearing “You guys are awesome.” About US. From THESE TWO. I’m watching said guitarist harass his singer via text to “stop being a p*ssy and come drink with us. It’s only 2:00! Our new friends are disappointed! You’re supposed to be the hard partying rocker!” Yeah! It’s only two o’clock and the bar won’t close because they now realize who’s in their facility and won’t make them leave. Shots? Sure! (Head: NOOOOO!). There were lots of “ya know K, no one is going to believe this happened,” only to have said Rock Star respond with “well you need pictures!” Yes, yes we do.
Hours later we found our way back to our hotel with a handful of pictures and about a million “that happened, right? That was real? That wasn’t all in my head? I didn’t drink too much, pass out and dream that?”
A few hours of sleep and the next morning there were no cheery Good Mornings. No ‘should I make coffee because we got this awesome suite for a ridiculously low price?’ There was sleep, silence, slight stirring, then “That ALL happened, right?” and we dissolved into giggles. Again.
It was last January this took place. K and I both still get giddy whenever we get the chance to tell the story. Of course we’re too cool to bring it up ourselves. We were sooooo unaffected. This is why I love my mom and her bad memory. “Hey, did Ang tell you about the night they met ******** and ***** from *********’s band? No? HEY ANG! Come tell your cousins what happened.” A good girl never tells her mother no, right?
Thanks Mother Nature, thanks rock stars who drink like rock stars but treat you like old friends, thanks city of Saginaw, thanks universe. There were a long list of teeny tiny details that, if any single one of them changed, the night would not have worked out that way. Snow, a weird GPS, a decision to say “martini bar? Not our kind of people, let’s find someplace else,” simple comment to the right person, a tshirt. Any single thing different and I’m not hugging that guitarist good night. One change and we’re not harassing my favorite man on the planet from a blackberry.
Thanks Universe, I needed that one more than I realized.