We talk a lot about fandom experiences here on the blog. Let’s face it, there really isn’t anything more exciting in fandom than finally being able to say you met your idol…and I don’t think Duran fans are exactly immune. I’ve written many words on the subject of the measures we go through to meet our idols, and as most readers know by now, Amanda and I suck at meeting the band.
I’m here to tell you that the struggle is real, and I have a personal story to prove my point. Prepare to laugh.
Amanda and I got together over her spring break from teaching here at my house. The plan was simple: we were going to the David Lynch show in LA together. Amanda was to fly in on Monday night, and then, due to some last-minute arrangements, we were to drive up to LA on Tuesday and come home the day after the show, which was Thursday.
Monday arrived, Amanda landed in “The OC” safely. Tuesday, we got up, I got my youngest off to school, packed and we were on our way. We made the drive to the hotel safely, got settled in, and did what Daily Duranie does best: we went to the lounge.
So our hotel, the lovely Luxe Center City (across from Staples Center and LA Live – thumbs up from me!) has a lounge with an outdoor patio. They were running what I feel to be an obscene special for pitchers of yummy white sangria, so we did what any Duranie should do. We ordered the pitcher and figured we’d stay awhile. Pink sunburnt faces and about three hours later, we were ready to check out the lay of the land.
The Theatre at the Ace was really about .71 miles from our hotel, and it was about a 15 minute walk if you were lucky enough to time the lights correctly. I know this because we made this walk about 45 times over the next two days. (a slight exaggeration, but not by much…) I amused myself each trip by joyfully pointing out the Mayan Theater to Amanda. Every. Single. Time…well, at least up until the time I nearly face planted on the sidewalk for not watching where in the hell I was going and tripped over a crack….in the sidewalk.
By the time we get to the theatre and see that yes, it really is right next to the hotel and that no one seems to be around, we both realize we’re thirsty. We decide we’re going to sit outside at a really nice cafe next door (but attached to The Ace) because it’s a nice day and so we settle in.
Here is where the story goes from mildly amusing to just well…I’ll let you all decide for yourselves.
I check my phone for messages, mainly from home, because my children and husband honestly cannot seem to manage without me for any length of time. Thankfully, at least at this moment, I am free to resume my short holiday and so I look up. (In some ways I almost wish I were doing this blog by video so that you can see my facial expressions.) I see someone I think I recognize walking up to say hi to some crew members two tables down from us at the cafe. It takes my brain entirely too long to realize that yes, it’s Dom…and even once my eyes register who it is, my brain refuses to believe. What do you think I did then? Yell out his name? Smile his way? Grab my phone to take covert pictures and tweet them randomly? No. Let me reenact the scene for you.
Me: (whispering emphatically) “Oh my GOD. Amanda. It’s Dom. It is Dom and he is like…right there. It. is. Dom.”
I literally turn my head away from Dom’s direction so that he can’t really see my face, but not before I get a really good look right at him. I was worried he’d see me because well, gee…I don’t know, but it turns out that on this particular day, Dom isn’t incredibly observant…because I’m pretty damn sure he’d recognize me and know exactly who I am right off the bat. Instead he pays zero attention and just talks to the crew. For some reason, I’m thankful.
Also, I kind of think I must have been trying to talk without moving my mouth too…which is even more hilarious when I think back. LOL
Amanda: (also whispering) “Yes, I can see that, Rhonda.”
Me: (pauses) “Wait, how?”
Amanda: “I can see him in the window of the damn cafe, Rhonda. Say something to him. Here’s your chance. Say something!!”
Me: “No!!! I can’t. I think I’m hyperventilating right this second. Oh my gosh I gotta breathe. I’m going to faint. If I go down it’s going to be really obvious and I will look like an ass!!!….” I grip the table and try to take a deep breath without looking like a complete imbecile, but of course it’s too late for that as far as my partner-in-crime is concerned. I am sure that had I looked at Amanda, she’d have been rolling her eyes at my drama.
This is no joke though. At this point, my heart rate was nearing warp speed and I could feel it beating through my chest as though it were about to take flight without the rest of my body in tow. My head started getting really dizzy. You know that moment right before you faint where you realize you’re going down and that there’s nothing that can be done? Yeah?? THAT.
Amanda (interrupting): “He is leaving. Yell at him. I’m going to call him…”
Me: “No, no. It’s…it’s not right. We can’t!”
I look up just in time to see Dom walk right the fuck past me and into the hotel.
I look over at Amanda to see her sitting there, lips pursed. I knew I was in big trouble. I took deep breaths…not because I was still in danger of fainting (Oh hell no. That ended as soon as Dom walked away,) but because I knew what was coming.
Me: “Oh wow. Yeah…I know…”
Amanda: “I should have just called after him. Why didn’t you do anything?”
I tried to explain that I just couldn’t move. Honestly, had I been able I think I would have scrambled out away from the table and ran from him when he walked up. My shyness was in overdrive that afternoon. The thing is, I wanted to say hi. I really did. I just couldn’t. So I tweeted (by DM) a friend who was insistent that this time I was going to meet that band and get pictures no matter what. I had to tell her I’d failed. Here are some edited pieces from that conversation…
Me: So we are at the cafe connected to the Ace. A couple of crew are sitting one table over to my left and Dom JUST walked by.
Friend: FOLLOW HIM!!!!!
Me: He stopped, talked to the crew and then went inside. I looked at him, immediately started to hyperventilating and couldn’t open my mouth. As I sit here I can’t seem to feel my fingers.
Friend: OMG Rhonda!!!!!! That was the opportunity!!!
After reading that, I look over at Amanda. She is still not happy. I’m thinking she is going to ask me for my Duranie card and tell me to grow a pair at some point in the next thirty seconds, but somehow that moment does not come. She stays mostly silent, probably waiting for me to return to my senses and acknowledge my own dumb-assery. I look back down at my phone and type a reply.
Me: No, he will have to come back down here at some point.
(incidentally I don’t know what I was thinking here…did I think I was going to sit my ass there at the Cafe until Thursday waiting???)
Me: Amanda was shocked he didn’t see me. LOL
Friend: Girl, GET ON THAT. And quit drinking!!!! :p
Me: I haven’t had anything to drink in about 2.5 hours! And I am completely sober. That sangria was that strong. At all.
Friend: Coffee. Now. You aren’t thinking clearly. LOL
Me: I am drinking iced tea thankyouverymuch.
Friend: :p You had better have a fucking photo by the end of the night!!!!
This was the point when I started realizing what I’d just done. I’d thrown away the one chance I thought I’d get. I mean, I don’t live in the UK. I can’t just head on down to his studio or show up at one of his shows, and even if I could, I don’t think I would purely because I am not a stalker. Sure, I will go to show after show. Yes, I will try to get as close as possible at shows, and always sit on his side. I might even hold up signs for him. Definitely, I tweet to him on occasion and I also tease him mercilessly, never really knowing if he even reads my tweets. But I’m not a stalker.
I also make no sense. I start feeling a mixture of frustration and sadness, knowing that I am probably not going to get that second chance, and that once again I over thought before I acted. I try to cover though because I’m not going to ruin our trip just because of my own idiocy.
Me: I know I blew it but he seemed like he was in a really big hurry and it all happened so fast… and I am an idiot.
Friend: :'( I get that. It’s intimidating.
Me: literally he was not five feet from me.
Friend: Maybe I was wrong. Maybe you should drink MORE.
In the meantime, I apparently did in fact “grow a pair” because I tweeted Dom. Yep, right @ him. Because… if you’re gonna feel like an ass, you may as well do it all the way… I told him that I’d just seen him and that he walked right by. I did sort of leave out the fact that I nearly ducked under the table as he walked up and that I almost fainted because well, who really needs details like that?? He explained that he was really spaced-out from jet lag and that I should have said something.
No kidding? Ya think??
Now, I will tell everyone that yes, I did finally get that photo with him, and that yes, he was very kind. I know everyone is waiting to hear that story – but the truth is that there isn’t much to tell, and what there might be are just memories for me to keep. I will say one thing though: I had a tough time hearing and understanding him, and he had a really tough time hearing me because we were in a pretty loud bar. So that went well. I felt like I was screaming at him and then trying to decipher what he said in return. I am still thinking of things I could and should have asked him or talked about that had nothing to do with music and especially not Duran Duran. (I really wanted to know if he was watching Better Call Saul, for instance!!) It is just that when you get in front of your idol, whether that is Simon LeBon or Dom Brown or someone else entirely – your brain freezes, or at least mine did. I just wish I could have gotten past that fan-girl brain freeze quickly enough to show that I’m a real person. I’m not really just a fan girl after a photo and autograph. I really didn’t need to only talk about Duran Duran or what I thought about the show. But, before that could happen that night, we were interrupted by someone else, and that’s the way it goes.
I still don’t think he knows that I was seeing the world spin or that I was honestly and truly going to faint had I even attempted to say his name out loud that day in the cafe. I have laughed about The Incident over and over with Amanda – who I think has mostly forgiven me at this point – but I can’t promise it wouldn’t happen again. What’s bizarre is that I’d already met Dom before and had a full conversation with him many years prior (on a plane), and for that matter I’ve “met” all the band members when they signed my Astronaut CD many years ago. Never reacted anything remotely like I did that day.
Truthfully, I am incredibly shy in person. Horribly so, in fact. I have a really hard time meeting new people. I hate mingling at parties. I used to be so bad that I wouldn’t even order my own food at restaurants. I try to hide it very well, and of course I’m super brave online, but for some really weird reason that day – ALL of my insecurities came out to frolic in the warm sun at the same time! Embarrassingly enough, it reminded me of what it was like in middle school as I would sit with the rest of my really awkward friends and see the boy I secretly thought was really cute (and way the hell out of my awkward, nerdy league) walk by. How dumb is that?!?
I am 44 years old. I’ve been married a week shy of twenty years. Mom of three. My oldest is 18. You’d think I’d have grown up by now.
Somehow though, I’m still glad I didn’t.