Last weekend, Katy generously called me to let me know that through her job she had procured two tickets to the Tuesday night John Mayer concert at the Rose Garden, and wanted to know if I would be her date for the evening.
I accepted gratefully, and so on Tuesday, I started to wonder: what if tonight, this night, is the night I get to meet John Mayer again? What if the fates align, and we actually get to hang out for real this time, and he remembers us? What if we take him up on that rain-check to catch a midnight show, and he is taken by my charming wit and my totally cool demeanor and thinks I'm HILARIOUS and wants to hang out with me ALL THE TIME? What if he’s not as much of a douchebag in person as everyone says he is? WHAT IF WE ARE MEANT TO MEET AGAIN!?
And then, magically, things started to align…
First, on that October day, 9 years ago, I happened to have pulled on some socks that may or may not have been Halloween themed (okay, they were). At the in-store performance, since Katy and I were basically sitting at his feet as he played, John leaned over and asked about the socks, interrupting my mortifying show-&-tell only to show us his own, purple striped socks. This Tuesday, in March, I am housesitting and have with me only one pair of socks: they are, fatefully, Easter themed. This either bodes well for my day, or means I need to grow up and get some real socks.
Second, Katy and I go to dinner, and everything on the menu is 50% off. What!? Yeah, HALF OFF! No, really. I eat myself into a near sushi-coma, and then we drive to the Rose Garden where we, again, fatefully, find a REALLY good parking spot. The only problem is that my wee Ford Focus is about 3 inches too big to fit between the SUV in front of us, and the two-wheeled, car-sized trailer parked behind.
“What is that thing even DOING parked here?” Katy asks in annoyance.
“I don’t know,” I say, “But, what happens if you just, you know, put a shoulder into it?”
I am joking, but Katy actually tries it, and to our total shock and amazement, she moves it about a foot backward, creating more than enough room for me to park. We are terribly pleased with ourselves.
THEN, after obtaining beer for ourselves in the arena, we head to our seats. The Rose Garden has a capacity of roughly 19,500 people for Trail Blazer games. Tonight, all the 300-level seats are closed, as well as a portion behind the stage, leaving what Katy and I estimate to be around 11,000 or so people at the show. I also know of only 3 other people going to this concert, making the odds of me sitting next to someone I know approximately 3 in 11,000, or a VERY SMALL PERCENT CHANCE.
Thus, you can imagine my surprise when I sit down RIGHT NEXT TO The Redhead’s mom.
“SHUT. UP.” I deadpan.
“YOU ARE KIDD-DING ME!” she shouts.
This series of well-timed and lucky occurrences is only adding good energy to that vibe in the back of my mind that I am trying not to look at head on, lest it disappear like a star. I cannot help but truly believe that the Universe is on my side, and the night could very easily go anyway I so desire.
This is cemented once the show starts. Katy remarks to me that in the seven times she’s seen Mayer live, he’s never played her favorite song, “Comfortable.” I am about to bet fifty dollars he doesn't play it.
And then, he does.
You know what happens next- can’t you feel it? The whole day has been leading up to it.
We decide to make the most of our mojo, and, after the show, plot the most direct route to where we assume the tour buses will be. We fluff our hair, stand up tall, and stride down halls and through the parking garage, down cement stairs, and down an inclined driveway. And there we see them: about a dozen tour buses, semi trucks, vans, and vehicles.
Our eyes widen, we slow, and Katy turns to me to say, “Well. They’ve come a long way since that 15-passenger van with the Ralph Wiggum window sticker, huh.”
We join the other hopeful hangers-on: only a handful, really, leaning on a cement wall, peering across a lane or two of driveway, and through two chain-link fences, woven in black plastic so you could barely see through them. Rose Garden security mills around, half-assedly trying to get us loiterers to leave:
“If you’re waiting for John Mayer, he already left. Got on one of them grey buses there and took off right away.”
Katy and I ignore him and survey the scene.
We are the eldest of the group, by a solid four or five years.
We are also not sure at all from where John and crew will emerge to actually get to these buses. In fact, even if they go a semi-roundabout route, our efforts in getting him to notice, acknowledge, and approach us will have to be monumental, not to mention monumentally embarrassing and drastic.
“Alright, so, you know if he does actually come out here, we’re going to have minimal time to actually get his attention, so I think we need to maximize our efficiency with word choice,” Katy posits, verbalizing my actual thoughts. “What is the shortest combination of words that would achieve this?”
This is the eloquent phrase on which we were pin our hopes.
And then, a funny thing happens. I play out, in my head, just what exactly, I think, is going to transpire. All my brilliant conversations I have planned are definitely meant for a corner table in a dark bar over drinks. What am I going to do, now, here? Ask to get onto the tour bus? Have him sign my friggin’ ticket stub? Have him look me straight in the face and have no idea that we have ever met? I mean, the poor guy has over THREE MILLION people following his Twitter account, hanging on his every word and always asking and pecking and wanting something from him. I see myself as he will see me: just another rabid fan.
He just came out and played for thousands of people, not to mention a mostly acoustic set in a very intimate way; a set rife with old favorites and memories and he did this for people like us. It’s a career I don’t think I could ever handle: there are choices involved that say, “I am hereby relinquishing control of my privacy, my free-time, my innermost thoughts and goals, and I am handing them to you all.”
Up on stage, effortlessly dismantling “Assassin” from his newest album, Battle Studies, it occurrs to me how separate he appeared. He was trying so hard to give something to everyone in a really personal way, and I think he achieved that, but in other ways, he was so isolated. That is a guy that can only ever date the Jennifer Anistons and Jessica Simpsons of the world, I realized; a guy that can get away with recording a cover of a Jimi Hendrix song on an album; a guy that gets interviewed in Playboy magazine and then probably takes home the centerfold.
“It’s been a long time since 22…” echoes in my thoughts, a line from another Battle Studies song. And for him, it really truly has been. It’s hard enough to see anyone you care about grow without you; even more daunting can be recognizing growth in yourself. I don’t need the same things anymore, either, and it has certainly been a long time since fifteen.
Katy and I turn to each other with sheepish expressions: “Ready to go?” I ask.
“Yup.” She says.
So we leave without knowing what would happen if we stay, but what we can guess at, we are not sad to be missing.
The luck and the socks and the parking and the cheap sushi all amounted to a revelation that we already got the perfect night, nine years ago; that being a fan now doesn’t mean getting rewarded for any kind of devotion, but being happy for his success. That we’re all older, and all different, and it doesn’t have to be better or worse.
And that, besides, after declaring me to be his secret girlfriend, John Mayer never technically broke up with me.
So as just another rabid fan, sure - he doesn't owe me anything. But, John, come on- as a girlfriend? I mean, you at least owe me the courtesy of a face-to-face breakup.
I think we can agree on that.