Epilogue: I saw the band again in August of 2012 and was able to have a do-over on the meet-and-greet. Sara wasn’t able to go, which was too bad because I know she wanted to prove that she could do it without passing out. It was very calm and devoid of paramedics. I was able to introduce myself to them all, shake hands and say hello, have them sign my ADITM CD, and have a lovely photo taken. Much more like the scenario my fifteen-year-old self had imagined.
Is twenty-seven years a long time to wait for disappointment?
By Karen Booth
My Duran Duran love started in 1983. Not that this is a contest, I hate that idea, but I’ve put in my time with the band. Yes, my fandom has waxed and waned over the years, but we all know how life (and the occasional album that doesn’t quite resonate with us) gets in the way. Regardless, like all fans, I love and adore them, always look forward to new music from them, love to see them live, and had dreamt of meeting them since I was a teenager.
Of course, I was excited when the band released AYNIN and announced the first tour dates in 2011. I live in Chapel Hill, NC, and the closest they were coming to me in the early part of the tour was Washington, DC. I called my BFF Sara. We squealed, we planned, we plotted, we jockeyed for the best tickets. All systems go.
Backing up the truck a decade or so, I once worked in the music industry. One could make a correlation between my teenage love of DD and my general obsession with music, which eventually turned into a career and often inspires the books I write. Through a friend still working in the industry, I was able to finagle passes for the meet-and-greet in Washington, DC. I won’t lie. I’ve been backstage many times, sometimes for very famous acts, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It can be dull. Stilted. Artificial feeling, especially when it’s an orchestrated meet-and-greet. Still, will full knowledge of what it would probably be like, I was screaming at the top of my lungs in my office at the thought of getting to go backstage for Duran Duran. It was finally going to happen.
Sara and I made the five-hour drive to Washington, DC on a beautiful, sunny fall day. We sang Duran songs at the top of our lungs, not just out of fun and musical enjoyment—I needed an outlet for my overabundance of nervous anticipation. I couldn’t think about meeting the band after twenty-seven years without some sort of squeaking noise leaving my mouth.
Sara and I checked into our hotel, which was fabulous. We discussed wardrobe options and got dolled up. We had an incredible meal at a restaurant I’d researched online. A few cocktails later, we strolled down to historic Constitution Hall and got our wristbands and a set of explicit directions about where we were to be and at what time we were to be there.
Sara and I got in line to go backstage. At this point, my heart was beating a million miles a second. I kept talking, but it was entirely out of nervousness. I was yammering. Nothing intelligent came out of my mouth. The security guy poked his head out from behind a curtain and said they’d be taking us back in a minute or two. Resume panic mode.
That’s when everything went wrong. Sara told me she was thirsty and needed to get a bottle of water. My immediate reaction was, “Are you kidding?” No, she wasn’t kidding. I told her to hurry. She took off down the hall. The security guy pulled back the curtain and told us it was time. I sent Sara several texts, as fast my thumbs could go.
My phone rang. The caller ID said it was Sara, but when I answered and started babbling about how she needed to move her cute little butt, there was a woman yelling at me to stop talking. Then I heard my name behind me and a security guy said that I needed to come with him.
“Your friend passed out,” he said.
“Oh. She does that.” (Sara had, in fact, passed out on me at a funeral mere weeks earlier. It happens when she gets stressed.)
By the time they got me to Sara, she was awake and paramedics were tending to her. Sara wasn’t calm or dazed though, she was yelling at anyone she could yell at.
“Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. Take my friend backstage. She’s been waiting twenty-seven years for this.”
Security guy said, “Don’t you worry about that. I’m in charge of backstage. Everything will be fine.”
“Reggie,” said Sara, who had apparently read his nametag, “I think you’re full of shit. I don’t think you’re in charge of anything.” (Keep in mind, Sara is 5’ tall and 100 pounds soaking wet. Reggie could have easily been starting defensive tackle for any NFL team.)
Reggie laughed while Sara’s eyes practically shot laser beams through his forehead.
While the paramedics took Sara’s blood, looked in her eyes with a light, took her blood pressure and a whole bunch of other stuff, Sara was still yelling. “Reggie, so help me God, if you don’t get my friend backstage right now, I’m going to freak out.”
“Your friend needs to be here for you.”
“Stop arguing with me. I’m fine. Take her now.”
The paramedics had a bunch of forms for me to fill out, even though they had determined that Sara was fine. The clock was ticking, I knew that much, but I was still so dumbfounded by everything happening around me that I didn’t do anything other than what I was told to do.
Reggie’s walkie-talkie buzzed. “The band is done. We gotta go now,” he tells me. Reggie and I run down the hall and he nearly pushed me through the door. I stumble into the room where the band was waiting.
What happened next transpired in slow motion, even though it took mere seconds. I dropped my purse on the floor. I handed a guy my phone.
“It’s not in camera mode.”
“Sorry, my friend just passed out,” I said, realizing how dumb it sounded the instant it left my mouth. What am I? Twelve?
I looked around. I had no idea where to stand. I had no idea what to do. Saying I was disoriented would be an understatement. I was the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. No one said a word to me.
I stepped closer to them. Oh my God, I’m in the same room with John Taylor. Nick is shorter than I thought he would be. The only thing I could think to say was, “Hi.” I know. Poetic.
Simon asked, “Are we done?” Photo guy said, “Yes.” And then they walked away.
Nobody said, “Bye” or “Thanks” or “Nice to meet you”. That was it.
After that, I left and we went to our seats. Sara was feeling much better. I showed her the photos, still in a daze and holding back a peculiar mix of emotions. The women behind me, who were very nosy, grabbed my phone.
“Oh my God. She met the band.”
“Simon looks like he photo-bombed her.”
They squealed. They were jealous. Irrationally jealous. I feel like crying and they’re jealous?
They passed my phone around our immediate section and people were pointing at me at gasping and grabbing the phone from each other. When I got my phone back, I posted the photo on Facebook and my best friend from high school posted the comment, “I can’t believe you met them and I wasn’t there!”
I then realized that disappointed or not, I’d still had the honor of standing in the same room with Simon, John, Roger, and Nick. Twenty-seven years of waiting, but I still got to be there. 99% of the people in that theater would have gladly traded places with me, no matter how much it hadn’t felt like a moment worth years of build-up.
Most importantly, Sara was okay and not about to assault a 300-lb. security guy.
The show was amazing, so much fun, the band firing on all cylinders. Our seats were great and we danced our butts off, slinking back to our hotel in exhausted bliss.
If you’re looking for a moral to this story, the only thing I can say is that we all need to remember that the reality rarely lives up to the fantasy, no matter the situation or people involved. You have to prepare yourself for that possibility. I’m still glad I went backstage that night, even when it meant that the dreams of the fifteen-year-old me were squashed along the way.
I comfort myself with the idea that lots of people have been fortunate enough to meet the band, but not everyone stood in front of Simon when they did it.
Author Karen Booth is a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on 80s music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. Her most recent novel, Bring Me Back, tells the tale of a music writer who meets and falls in love with the 80s British rock star she was obsessed with in high school and is peppered with Duran references.