So, where was I? Oh, yes, the New Cars (featuring real Cars Greg Hawkes and, most importantly, Elliot Easton) pricey VIP concert tickets which I had in my possesion. I roped my sweet new fiance Gary into going with me. I felt he needed to see this side of me before we went any further.
They told all of the VIP’s via email that we were allowed to bring something for the band to sign. Of course I’d bring my copy of Elliot’s 1985 solo album: Change No Change. I was sure he’d be impressed – I’m a real fan, not some poseur who just likes to throw money around. The album’s cover is black, so I bought a silver paint pen for him to sign it with, because I think of everything.
The day of the concert, we arrived at the Universal Amphitheater and were led in by a cute, college-age girl whose job it was to wrangle us. I hated her. I would have killed for this job as a young woman, did she even know how good she had it? Would she ever? Should I explain it to her?
Okay, so, this girl, who probably had never heard of the Cars before this job, sat us in a spot out of view of the band as they rehearsed their set. Elliot was in charge of things, you could totally tell. Signaling with his hands, saying things with his voice – he was choreographing the dance that was the New Cars. I had never loved him more. Then the rehearsal ended, and the Girl Who Has Had More Than One Exchange With Elliot Easton, You Know It said it was time for the meet and greet. I felt my throat tighten; my body became cold and unmoving. A dream was about to become reality – most normal people think this would be amazing and not be sick to their stomach and want to run crying to the bathroom.
We filed out and into a tented area where we were instructed to form a line perpendicular to the table where the band sat, open faced and ready to receive us. Then the line started to move. The closer we got to the table, the more I wanted to expire before I got there. I had been waiting for this moment all my life, and yet all I wanted to do was run away and dive into the Waterworld moat.
I felt bad for Gary as well – I gave him the terrible task of getting my Shake It Up album signed – but only by the two original Cars. He’d have to pull it away from the others. To this day I don’t know how he did it, nor do I want to know, because I’m sure it involved being rude, and that would bother me forever.
We inched forward… Oh my stars. It was happening… what’s happening… where am I? I felt a shortness of breath and my heart race – please oh please let this be a grand mal seizure. Throughout all this panic, I kept the line moving ever forward. The order of it all kept me from losing my mind.
Before I knew it, I was standing right in front of original keyboardist Greg Hawkes. I smiled at him, nodded and said hi, all awkwardly. Next to Greg sat one of Todd Rundgren’s buddies. I smiled at him, too – whatever, I’m nice.
Next was Elliot, looking resplendent seated in the center – like the Jesus of the New Cars. The guy in front of me was slow, so I was stuck smiling at Todd Rundgren’s buddy more. The guy moved on. Elliot looked at me. I stepped up to him and I handed him my album.
“I brought this silver pen,” I said, indicating.
“There’s a grey one here,” Elliot Easton said. I looked down – there were Sharpies in at least three different colors. I felt like an asshole! And I braved Michael’s craft store and the idiots there for nothing.
“Oh!” I said, and just stood there like a dum dum.
He signed his name and handed the album cover back to me, and I said nothing else. I am such a planner – why didn’t I plan something to say to him? I have written an entire Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tribute speech to the Cars in my head once during a long drive – why couldn’t I summon up something from that?
Mercifully, I reached the end of the slow-scooting line, turned, and rushed toward Gary with a sense of exhilarated relief, the kind you feel when you exit a really scary haunted house, one where they have no boundaries and grab and poke you. But then the girl said we needed to get back in line – we’d each be taking a picture with them! Oh, how I wished Gary would just punch me in the face. Someone – please stab me in the neck with your keys!
With sweet Gary’s encouragement, I found the strength to pose for the picture – and another one for safety! You know, up to that day, I always thought that, had I lived in pioneer times, I would never have survived. I think the strength I showed that day proves otherwise.
Seriously, look how close my right arm is to his commanding, rock star shoulders.
After the meet and greet, a half-assed buffet, and a trivia contest where I won a t-shirt, of course, we were herded back into the amphitheater and watched The New Cars from our amazing seats. I would have wept through the entire set, but one of Gary’s friends had joined us, so I acted like I was having fun instead of dying inside.
This is me saying to Elliot “Back off, I’m engaged!”
Okay, so here’s the stuff:
The t-shirt is fairly new and it doesn’t fit. There’s a picture disc, a tour program, and a homemade Cars button since I could never find one. Also included but not pictured are my Circus magazines and loose-leaf pictures of the band cut out from magazines I once put into collages. I’m keeping the signed records, obvi. And this other unwearable t-shirt.