Live in Concert

I was nervous as I stood aside from the group, waiting for Rick Springfield to sign autographs and talk to my friends.  I was supposed to sit down with him and go over some things for the website.  This was the first time I’d seen him since before I’d started working for him, and I felt my cheeks glowing red with the anxiety bubbling up inside of me.   Sure, we’d emailed, we’d talked on the phone, I’d even hosted the live chat for the fans.  But there was something about being in the same room and having him look at me that made me uncomfortable.  Would he figure out that I was a sham?  Did he hate the latest changes to the site?  Had fans complained about the lag time in the chat room?  And for god sakes, why hadn’t I lost more of the baby weight yet?

I’d gotten to the show earlier today later than I’d wanted; R was still jet lagged from his trip to Japan, and then this morning while he was walking down the steps, he’d tripped and hurt his foot.   After some angry back and forth, me watching the clock and asking him to make a decision about whether or not to go the urgent care, he’d decided against it.  Still, he couldn’t quite understand why I’d need to leave at 1pm for a concert that started at 8pm.  It was pointless to try and explain to him that since Rick had started touring, fans had started getting to the General Admission shows earlier and earlier; I expected that some would have gone to the Blue Ash Town Square around sunrise for this one.

Rick’s shows were so interactive that the front row seat really allowed you to be part of the show and feel like he really saw you there.  Word had spread about how he was pulling fans out of the front row to sing with him for a song called “I Get Excited”, how he would leave the stage and wade off into the crowd during “Human Touch”, how he would smash roses on his guitar and the petals would rain over a group of giggling, smiling women.   Being in the front row gave you the greatest chance of any of these fun experiences, or a wink, nod or hand slap.   For the shows I had been to in the last several years, I’d never stood in the front row.  I felt a little bad about wanting some of that fun too…but I wanted to know what it was like, just the same.

The crowd had indeed been four deep when I’d arrived to the venue.  But fortunately, some of the friends I’d made online from the area had been holding me a spot.    We’d spent the long hours waiting for the show getting to know one another; one of them was Shelly, whom I’d met at one of Rick’s Tucson charity events and whom I’d seen again last year in Tulsa.  These girls were seasoned Rick Springfield concert goers, having been to many more shows of his in recent years than I had been.  They knew every cue, anticipated his every move, and laughed as he stood over our group raining roses right on top of my head.  He seemed to get a kick out of the women and our throwback reactions to him onstage; the more we egged him on, the more he delivered.  The show was full on fun, such as I hadn’t had since probably the last show I’d been to eleven months prior.  I gratefully thanked the girls who had held my spot as we gathered up our things; we all going to go backstage together, because many of them were familiar with Rick’s band members and road crew.

The insecurity fell over me in waves as I watched them with him, one by one.  So familiar, they made jokes about being “Zombie” fans whom he knew all by name.  They were pretty girls, with tans and stylish clothes.  I hadn’t seen a show in eleven months but one of them had been to no less than thirty in that same time frame.  Thirty shows!  I couldn’t imagine it. They were easy and comfortable with him and I was sweating bullets.  I looked down at the sundress and white shirt I wore and wished I’d chosen a more attractive outfit.  I’d gone for comfort and for access; I’d had to pump breast milk twice during the wait for the show, and would have to do it again when I got to the car tonight.

But finally, the girls filed out and just Elizabeth and I were left.  Elizabeth and I had been friendly for years, and when she had started working with Vivian and I with our internet mailing list for the fan club, we’d become fast friends.  She had asked to stay with me as part of “the fan club team”, and I was glad she had;  my mouth suddenly felt dry and I felt dumb and stupid and completely out of my league.

Rick sat down on the sofa, cracked open a bottle of water and patted the seat next to him.  I busied myself getting my notebook out of my knapsack, trying to appear calm and cool when I heard him say, “The website looks so amazing.  I’ve been hearing from fans all over how much they love it, how easy it is to find things on there.”

I stopped and looked up.  Rick was looking at me, a foot away, sweaty and easy and a regular guy.  “Are you just saying that because you can see how nervous I am?”

“One thing you need to learn about me,” he said, using my name out loud, “Is that I never, ever lie about my livelihood.  No, even my manager agrees that the best thing I’ve done for my career in the last five years is get you on my team.”

I flushed bright red.  Across the room, I could hear Elizabeth surreptitiously take a photograph of him and I, together on the sofa.  “Well, thank you,” I said, flustered.  “That means a lot.”


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