Thursday, December 13, 2007:
This was a busy, crazy day but one that I will always remember. It started out rushed as I had to get myself packed and drop off the cat before school. (My cat stayed/stays with my parents while I’m gone. What can I say…spoiled!) We left work at 2:30 as planned and Madison by 2:45. We were confident that we would make it to Best Buy in Chicago where Duran was holding their cd signing event. Of course, we had to stop by another friend’s work, first, to pick up the wristbands and cds that she got for us last week. (I don’t remember the exact details but you had to buy a copy of Red Carpet Massacre to get a wristband. Luckily, I had a friend who could do that for us so we didn’t have to make an additional trip. This made my third copy of the album, an album I don’t especially like. Alas…) The drive was uneventful until we got into traffic! We were anxious to get there but kept our cool. (On the outside, at least!)
After meeting my friend for the quick pass off of cds and wristbands, we arrived at Best Buy at 6:35. Even though we didn’t see the band arrive, I was on the phone with another friend when they walked in so I got to hear the screams! (LOL!) We quickly got in line and realized that we would have to brave the cold for awhile. (It was December in Chicago. This means it was dang cold. All things Duran are worth it or so we like to say.) I ran inside to go to the bathroom and straighten myself out a bit after work and the drive. It started to feel like a reunion then as I ran into other friends inside. All of them had been through the line and had nothing but wonderful things to say about the boys! My level of excitement increased! Soon enough, I rejoined my friend outside and patiently waited. We were never so happy as to get inside the doorway and we did get a chance to make friends with the Chicago policemen who were manning the door.
While waiting in line inside, I called Rhonda. I was missing her terribly and really felt that she should be there with me. Anyways, during the conversation, we decided what I was going to say. Some of the things included: How many of the fans have embraced Dom Brown, suggesting that they play Vegas before March (would have worked our schedule!), giving support to John in hopes that he doesn’t have to sacrifice as much, musically, during the next album (thankfully, he did not!), etc. Is that what I actually said? Absolutely not. Anyway, I wasn’t that interested in getting my cd signed because I had already one a signed one from DDM (my second copy). I was hoping to get my Broadway Playbill signed instead. Unfortunately, when I got to the front of the line, some guy told me that it had to be the cd. Great. Fabulous. Wonderful. Okay, onto Plan B. I already had the wrapping off the cd. I thought I was prepared. Nope.
So, there I stood right in front of the guys and unable to rip the sticket off the cd case to get the insert out. I mumbled an apology to Katy who was standing to the left of the table. She smiled at me and said, “Were you like that with homework as a kid, too?” I answered back about how I was a teacher now so I should know to be prepared. At this point, Simon seemed frustrated with me and said, “Just give it to me.” I told him I would get the insert out and I did before handing it to him. Then, I found myself saying something about having to work today and how traffic sucked, which I’m sure he did not care about. As he handed the insert to Nick, I thanked him and moved on, grateful to be done with Simon. (By the way, the order was perfect for me. It went Simon, Nick, Roger and John. I obviously focused my energy on John.) Nicked looked at me and smiled. I smiled back and again found myself rambling about how I should be more chatty. Yeah, smooth. Not. Clearly, I couldn’t remember anything I had planned to say. Fabulous. Roger was next. I greeted him and asked how he was. He looked at me and answered with a simple, “Fine.” Obviously, he wasn’t in a mood to be chatty. Okay. It was fine. After all, I had saved all my coherent thoughts for John.
John helped me feel comfortable right way since he asked for my name. I gave it to him and then asked, “Wear any fun socks lately, John?” (A little history lesson here that some of you I know will remember. A number of members of the Church of the Bass God from DDM sent him socks for his birthday in 2006 after noticing the frequency of silly socks he kepts wearing. I sent him a pair-James Bond ones. Then, at the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans in 2006, I held up a sign asking him to show his socks. He did. All I saw, unfortunately, was the bottom of his shoe.) After the question, he was instantly confused. I repeated the question and added, “You know the Church girls sent you all of those fun socks.” He then beamed and said, “Oh, yeah. That was totally fun!” I commented that I was the one to send him the James Bond ones. His response was very sweet, “You did? Then, I got scarves next, right?” I nodded while he continued to say about how fun those gifts were. Seriously, if I wasn’t a huge fan, I would have been after that. He seemed genuinely pleased and had a big smile on his face the whole time. *squee*
After that, we moved along and joined a group of people for dinner across the street. Everyone was so excited by the signing and were looking forward to the show! Good times!
Looking back on the experience, that entry in my Duran scrapbook still seems right on. Of course, I left out a key piece. I blame Rhonda for making Simon…short with me. After all, I was on the phone with her right up to getting to the table. If I wasn’t, I am sure that I would have been completely ready! LOL! I am still thrilled by how sweet John was and I’m still proud of what we as a group of John fans were able to do with those socks and scarves. The insert hangs on my wall proudly to this day and I can’t imagine ever taking it down. Good times, indeed!
I had heard murmurs of a record store signing when I was at the Duran Duran Fan convention in New Orleans, but I knew the signing was in Los Angeles, and in the middle of the week. I told myself there was no way I was driving up there, that I had too much going on, and that was that. At some point over the weekend though, a story someone told me just clicked. That “someone” was my friend Machelle, and I don’t even know if she remembers telling me the story of when she first ran into John Taylor. (No really, I don’t honestly know if she remembers. It was one of those weekends!) I really can’t even remember the details of the story, other than she had me almost crying I was laughing so hard, and that at the very end of it all I mentioned the signing and she said to me “Rhonda, you have to go. You’ll continue to kick yourself forever if you don’t.” She said those words with such a declarative tone…who was I to argue?
I really don’t know if I would have ever gone to the signing if it hadn’t been for that weekend and of course my conversation with Machelle. Just the act of going to the convention had been a huge step in the direction of finding myself once again after many years of just being “Mom”. But, on the way home in the plane from the convention, I gave the idea of going a lot of thought. Part of me was completely willing to put that part of myself: The Fan, back on it’s appropriate shelf when I got home. Being just “Rhonda” wasn’t especially comfortable on me yet, and absolutely not in the presence of my husband or children. I also worried about how I’d feel meeting the band. At the time (and is frequently discussed in the community), I suppose I really did have the band on their prospective pedestals. In October of 2004 I hadn’t yet heard the Astronaut album, gone to Chicago to see them with friends…or really seen them with anyone but my husband. I know that I gave thought to the idea that if I truly went to the signing and actually got past the door, that perhaps in some way the fantasies I’d had about all of them from the time I was a child would somehow change. That concerned me. By the time the plane had landed though, I had made up my mind that yes, I would go to the signing…and I’d take my daughter with me.
That’s right, not only had I decided to take my chances and go, I wanted my oldest to go along with me. There were a number of reasons I’d made that decision, but most importantly – I wanted my oldest to know her mother. I wanted her to see and maybe get a tiny taste of what I was really like as a person. After all, I wasn’t an awful lot older than she was when Duran Duran first came into my life. (She was 7 years old at the time we went to the signing. She’s now 15. Time flies!!!) After convincing my husband that I wasn’t crazy and that she and I would both be perfectly safe, we put our plans into place. She was so excited to be going along with mom, and I have to tell all of you – if I had to do it all over, I wouldn’t hesitate for a single second in asking her to go with me.
That’s the real story here. Sure, meeting the band was something I’ll never forget and I’ll get into that in a second, but the real story is how much just taking my oldest child with me changed our relationship as mother and daughter. She was just a little thing, but she has always been far more mature than her years. I wanted her to understand that it is OK to have other interests that are outside the boundaries of family or career, even as a woman. I wanted her to understand that it’s OK to love a rock band, and it’s even OK to do crazy things once in a while – even when you’re grown up. Honestly, I just wanted her to see that living can really be a lot of fun sometimes! I really think just standing in line the night that Astronaut went on sale (you had to buy an album at midnight when it went on sale, and then a wristband came with the purchase for you to come back later in the week for the signing) really taught her a lot about who I am. She listened intently as I told her stories of going to the grocery store to buy magazines each week or how crushed I was when my parents wouldn’t allow me to go to see them in concert back in 1984 for the Sing Blue Silver tour. If that weren’t enough, people around me chimed in with their own personal stories, and it became very clear to my daughter that while plenty of other people around us had met the band, gone to shows, and even traveled for them – her mom had done next to nothing. The closest I’d ever come to actually meeting the band prior to this signing was back in the summer of about 1985 when Power Station was touring. John Taylor had done some sort of an appearance at a Tower Records store in Van Nuys, and my cousin and I begged to go. Her parents took us, but the line was what seemed like miles long, and after about an hour of standing in 100 degree heat outside, John Taylor left in a limousine…taking our dreams of meeting him right along with him. So this signing for me was about finally seizing my own moment. Somehow, I was able to properly convey, in terms she would understand at the age of seven and yet still remember quite clearly at the age of fifteen, just how important it was for me to be in that line with her that evening.
The moments to midnight seemed to take forever. I was so proud of my little girl though, because she was a real trooper that night. Never once did she ask me to pick her up or tell me she was tired, even though I knew she had to have been. We talked and joked up until the time we got up to the door of Virgin Megastore, and then once inside they had Duran Duran videos running along with the music from the new album playing in the background. I was still nervous until we got up to the register though, because I recognized that there were probably only so many wristbands – and that line sure did seem long outside, stretching for a least a couple blocks up Sunset Boulevard. We did make it to the register though, and I remember her huge grin when she handed the salesperson her money and got her wristband for the signing. I was just as excited when I got my own!
In the few days leading up to the signing, she had listened to the album nearly non-stop, making sure she knew each song. (Or wait – was that me??) She’d already announced that Sunrise was her favorite, and she was really thrilled to have the chance to see the band and have them sign her CD. We spent several hours over the course of the days leading up to the signing talking about how my room looked as a kid, and what I did to find out what the band was up to. (No internet in those days!) She was surprised at how much work it took to be a fan back then. (Me too!!) We talked about which band member was my favorite, and how much her dad – my husband Walt – looked like Roger Taylor. (Huh. Interesting coincidence I suppose. He doesn’t really look THAT much like him any longer, but the olive skin, dark eyes and dark hair seems to be a common theme. Go figure.) In fact, one night she asked me aloud at dinner when her REAL dad would be coming to pick her up. Of course, she said this just to yank her dad’s chain – and to her surprise Walt responded “Well, whenever he does show up here I’m going to show him the bill for your dance classes. ‘Bout time that man starts paying up!” She collapsed in a fit of giggles that night, I’ll never forget it. (Of course we were all joking and nobody, least of all ME, thinks Roger Taylor is my oldest’s father!!!!)
The day finally arrived and after driving up to Los Angeles, we waited in another very long line. After what felt like an eternity, the line slowly began to creep up Sunset, getting ever so slightly closer to the side door of Virgin Megastore. I could feel my nerves heighten as we crawled closer to the door, and I got very quiet. Mostly, I was doing some serious “self-talk” before I got anywhere near that door. Wanna know what I was saying to myself?
Rhonda Lynn (My middle name and how my mother still refers to me to this very day). You have been waiting for this moment for over twenty-five years now. You will not make a fool out of yourself. There will be no giggling, no requests for a hug, marriage proposals or anything else that will make you appear stupid. You will smile, speak with intelligence, and most of all – there will be absolutely no fainting. NONE. Furthermore, under no circumstances will you forget that your oldest child – your only daughter (at the time) is with you. She will remember every silly thing you say or do and use it against you later, so do not let that happen!!! (I was totally right about that, by the way.)
Once we’d gotten to the door, my daughter stood in front of me and I had my hands on her shoulders, both to keep her from running in there as well as to steady myself. I could see all of them, huddled over the table hurriedly scribbling their signatures over the albums and CD’s put in front of them. Nick looked up, gave a big smile to my daughter and called her over. I could have died right then. We both went over, and he took her CD and signed it – sending her down the line. Then he looked at me and asked if she was mine. I said yes, that I was doing my part to raise her right, and he smiled. Next was John. John didn’t even see us – he was doing what *I* would have done had I been on his side of the table, which was keeping his head down, signing the damn CD’s as they went by, and not looking up to see the wall of people closing in on him. I did say that the album was beautiful, and to that he did look up – but he had no idea who had said it and just said “Thank you” to the air. Next was Simon. Now, I’d heard outside that Simon arrived in a somewhat pissy mood that day (by this point in time the stories of Simon’s moods had made it to my little spot in the community), but he’d had some red wine and seemed to be a bit better by the time I got to him. Hey…he’s a scorpio. So am I. I get the moods. Anyway, he was busy quizzing my daughter when I turned to look at him. She had carried her book in with her, and he wanted to know what she was reading. So, she showed him and then he guessed her age. (Good guess, Simon. She was dully impressed.) Then he narrowed his eyes at her and asked what her favorite song off of the album was. I think Simon thought he was going to catch her, but guess what Simon? My daughter is wicked smart! She smiled with her “You think you’ve got something on me, but actually I am way over your head” smile and said, “Sunrise is my favorite off of THIS album, Simon.” She even used his name, I was so proud. He grinned and pushed the CD down to Andy. Oh, Simon didn’t even bother looking up at me. Andy was amazing though Easily the best reaction of the night because he literally jumped out of his chair and practically dove across the table to shake hands with my daughter. She was giggling like crazy and saying hi. I loved it. He seemed so happy to see a little girl there, and it warmed my heart. To this day she remembers Andy, and he is still her favorite. Finally, there was Roger. This was the one *I* had been waiting for. My daughter knew this, and she stood off to the side of the table waiting for me. I asked him if he was tired, and he looked at me and said “Yes”, but quietly as though he didn’t want to make a fuss. Then I thanked him for doing the signing, explaining that I’d never had the chance to see them as a kid and that I was really glad they were back together as the original 5 member band. Then I lost all of my senses (no, I still don’t have them back, I guess) and told him that he had always been my favorite for all of that time, and that he still was.
Hey! Hey!!! I hear the groaning back there!! Knock it off!
Time stopped at that moment, as Roger looked up at me, smiled the *best* smile ever, and said thank you, that it was really sweet of me to say. Then I said goodbye, collected my daughter and floating out of the Virgin Megastore.
As we got out of the store and I regained the feeling in my body, my daughter leans over and says “Wow mom, thought for sure you were just going to propose marriage to the guy right then and there.”
She was just seven then…. Just imagine how much worse she is now at fifteen and you’ll know why I travel so often.
All of that aside, I’ll never forget that experience. Meeting the band was amazing even though I was just one face of hundreds that night, it meant the world to me. My daughter and I still talk about that week from time to time because as she puts it – it was the first time she got to really know me. Since then I’ve taken her to see them in Vegas (odd place to take a kid to see a band, but we were already there for a dance convention!), and out of everyone in this family, she is the one who understands me most. She still thinks I’m insane, but I know somewhere behind those teenage eye-rolls and sighs of annoyance – she thinks I’m pretty cool.
At least, that’s what I tell myself. 🙂
When I think about my personal life, met means that I have been formally introduced to the other person. I have given my name and received the other person’s name in return. In many cases, we have exchanged a handshake. I would then be able to address the other person by name and the other person could address me by name. Yes, obviously, there are situations where a mutual friend does the introductions, which is the same idea. In real life, it means a lot more than seeing the other person. For example, I know by name most of the people who work in my school. I can address them by name and vice versa. We often greet each other in the hall with a simple, “Hi. How are you?” Yet, there are people I work with that I see on a frequent basis whom I have never “met”. These are people that I might learn their names but still would feel weird just going up to talk to them. If, for example, we had to collaborate on some project, when I approached them, I would introduce myself before getting started. Yet, it seems that my definition of meeting is very different when it comes to Duran Duran.
Some fans seem to define meeting the band as seeing them some place other than the stage. This sighting could be right outside the venue as they enter or exit. It could be that they were spotted at an airport or some other public location. It might be that they passed you when entering or exiting a bar or hotel lobby. Then, other fans, describe meeting the band as when words are exchanged. In that definition, it does not matter if you stated your name or not. It is just that words were exchanged. Like the previous definition, this exchange of words could take place in or out of the venue, in a public location or at some place the band might hang out at, like a hotel or bar. The exchange of words could be quick like, “Great show, blank band member!” I would assume, for this definition, that the chosen band member would need, at least, to respond with something even if it is just a thank you.
Are these definitions good enough? Do they adequately describe a meeting or is there more to a meeting? Should a proper meeting include an exchange of names? The chance for an autograph and/or picture? I think that the fandom should work to come up with an universal definition so that people aren’t confused like I am when answering this question. Should the definition be as broad as possible so the largest number of Duranies can claim having met them or should it be a narrow definition so that fans will continue to work for a higher quality exchange with the band? What do you think the definition of meeting the band should be? Then, based on your definition, have you met the band? At what moment did you know that it was a legitimate meeting?
To answer my own question: Yes, I have seen the band off the stage. Yes, I have exchanged words with all of them, except for Dom or Andy. Yet, I, personally, don’t know that I feel like I have met them. I never exchanged names, except for when John asked me my name at a cd signing. I never had the chance to get a picture, which, sometimes, feels like I’m the only one who hasn’t had her picture taken with one or all of the guys. (Although, I did get a picture with Nick with a friend. I would like one with just me.) Maybe I don’t want my experiences to count so that I still have something I’m working towards, some goal to meet. Maybe no experience will be good enough unless I feel like there was a real exchange. I don’t know.
So, readers, I ask you. What is your definition of “met the band”? Do you think that everyone agrees with that definition?
Six years ago today, Astronaut was released, and the band was playing on Good Morning America. I remember waking up that morning, completely red and bleary-eyed, then rushing to get my son off to school so that I could get back in time to see the band play. I was a very excited and tired Duranie that morning….
The night before, I stood in a line with hundreds of other people outside of Virgin Megastore in Hollywood on Sunset Blvd. We were all waiting patiently for midnight, when we would be allowed to buy Astronaut. The reason why there were hundreds of us outside waiting was obvious – we were clearly insane. 🙂
You see, the band had agreed to do an album signing, and all you needed to do was buy the album and get a wristband to come back a couple of days later for the actual signing. The key being the store had a set number of wristbands, and so naturally the closer in line you were, the better chance of getting the wristband. We waited in line diligently that night, agonizing over the length of the line, but hopeful we too would have our opportunity for a wristband.
The best part of this story for me is that in my infinite parental wisdom – I wanted to share the moment with my then 7 year old daughter. She came with me that night while we waited in line, and she was really a trooper. Never once did she complain about being tired, even when it was very obvious she was ready for bed. I don’t know how special the night was for her – I mean let’s face it, she was 7 and much more into Hilary Duff than Duran Duran at the time, and I knew that. I just wanted her to see that even parents have lives outside of just being parents, and I suppose I wanted her to have a small glimpse into who her Mom really was as a person. I know that over the years, I’d always wondered what “fun” things my mom did when she was a teenager. I really didn’t know much about my mom’s childhood other than she didn’t get along with her father and didn’t have money. I want my daughter(s) to know who I was, who I am…and even whom I aspire to be. I want them to know that I have had fun in life, and I also want to be able to share some of my “secret fun times” with them. I suppose in a sense I want to share this part of my life with them because I want them to see that there is more to life than just being a mom, just being a wife…and just being a woman. It’s OK to step out of those gender roles, and it’s also OK to embrace them. All of it, the mom, the wife, the friend, the student and even the “groupie” (so to speak) encompass who I am. I am proud of all of it, and both of my daughters should be proud of who they become and what they love as well. I couldn’t really ask for anything else as a mom.
Finally, the doors opened at midnight, and the line – which had grown considerably as we stood there and was a few blocks down Sunset by then – wove through the store. As we walked into the store, Astronaut was playing and they even had the DVD that came with the deluxe edition playing on the TV’s throughout the store. The line didn’t take long, and we emerged triumphantly with our CD, the deluxe CD set, the vinyl and our two wristbands to return for the signing. My daughter was very excited because her mom was very excited, and off we went for our hours drive back home. I think we got home at about 2am.
The next day, I woke her up in time to come and see the band we had gotten wristbands to go and meet perform on GMA. Yes, I kept her out of school that next day – perhaps not the most responsible parenting thing to do, but one I will never regret. Sometimes the real learning doesn’t take place in a classroom, but in life. I don’t know how much she appreciated that wake up call (mmm…probably not much!), but she sat patiently with me and watched the band play. She giggled as her mom squealed in delight at seeing people she knew on TV – and I don’t mean the band – I mean the people in attendance that morning, and then of course she laughed as I continued to squeak out comments to the band as they played, as though they could really hear me. I would guess that she saw just a tiny bit of the inner 12 year old in me that day, as well as the evening before – and most certainly a few days later when we went for the signing.
Overall, that experience: the line, the waiting and actually meeting all five of my idols for the first time, was made infinitely more special because my daughter was with me. I really believe it somehow bonded us, and as she’s grown older (13 now, which is truly a frightening age. FRIGHTENING!) I think that night opened the door for a certain amount of honesty and trust between the two of us. While that might not necessarily have trained her to become a Duranie (try as I might!), I believe it paved the way towards a continued healthy relationship, even now that she’s a teenager.