The First Time I Tried

The first time I tried to meet Rick was really the second time.  The first, really, being in the throng of girls assembled by the backstage door at Pine Knob Music Theater in September, 1984.  I was just shy of my fourteenth birthday, having gone to my first concert performed by my favorite (obsession? bordering on psychotic all consuming crazy?) musician, and I thought it would be easy.  I’d read all of those articles in 16 Magazine where girls just “hung out by the tour bus” and there he’d appear.

Except this was a 20,000 person amphitheater.  There was no way anyone could get to the tour bus, hidden safely away in the no man’s land behind security.  And the gaggle of much older teen girls, with bigger breasts and more eye makeup, was a lost cause.

I hung my hope on the next day.

My girlfriend and I had ingeniously figured out which hotel Rick and his band were staying at.  I thought, at the time, we were insanely clever.  We’d called around to all of the high end hotels in the area asking for his tour manager.  Not Rick; we knew he wouldn’t stay under his real name.  Not even the band.  But the manager?  Sure enough, the Somerset Inn offered to connect me to Mr. Dana Miller’s room when I asked to speak to him.  Were they kidding?  Didn’t I sound 14 on the phone?  No matter.  They connected me and all of a sudden, he answered.

Shit!

I looked up at my friend, sitting next to me, waiting.  I was shaking. “He answered!” I mouthed. I was sure I’d be leaving a message and didn’t really expect to actually speak to him.  She nodded, pushing me forward.  I read the script.  It sounded rehearsed, and flat, but I got it out.

“Really? That sounds interesting. Sure, you can come by the hotel.   Absolutely.”

I couldn’t believe my luck!  He was ASKING me to stop by the hotel. Incredible!

“Thank you so much Mr. Miller. I’ll be by later this morning.”  I hung up the phone, it clattering from my shaky hands as I placed it in its cradle.

Oh my goodness!

An hour later, we were standing in the lobby of the hotel.  This couldn’t be right.  I expected something grand, ornate.  This lobby was tiny and minimalist, with a few chairs and one smallish desk in the corner.  I hesitated.  I didn’t know what to do next.

I looked over at my girlfriend for direction. In that time, about ten seconds, a beefy man in a blue blazer came up to us and asked us our business at the hotel. We told him about our previous conversation with Rick’s tour manager, and I showed him the blue box that we had brought to discuss with him.

“No problem. We’ll be happy to deliver this to him,” the man told us, reaching for the box.

“But Mr. Miller asked us to come. He asked us to meet with him personally. Can you at least call his room and ask him if he’d come down?” I gave him my best “please help me I am just a young girl who has a big crush on a rock star” look.

“Sorry. This is the best I can do for you. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure they get it.”

This was not turning out the way I’d planned.  My heart, which had been high in my throat the whole way over, dropped.  I could feel it descending, and my face glowed red with embarrassment and frustration.

I handed the box over. It was clear we weren’t going to be allowed to wait around in the lobby, use a house phone, or anything else.  The beefy man nodded, silently, tucking my precious gift behind the desk, out of sight.  He looked beyond us then, and his message was clear.  There’s nothing else for you here.  It’s time to leave.

My shoulders hunched over as I walked back out the sleek glass doors of the hotel.  It was one of those moments that you remember; the ones that change who you are, just a little.

Or maybe more than a little.

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