I was nodding off in front of my laptop last night while writing this, and then today (Thursday) has been a bit of a whirlwind without internet access. So just imagine that you were reading this Wednesday night.
My final masterpieces have been turned in for my Drawing I class and I took the final exam this morning. I’ll share those soon. I went home to pack, then Ben drove me to the airport (with only 1.7 trillion Utah Driver incidents along the way) where the security line was long and I didn’t have a seat assignment. When I checked at the gate, the agent printed out a little receipt with seat number 20C that turned out to be in the very last, and very windowless, row of the small plane.
I sat next to a very friendly Brit named Phil, who turned out to be the manager of singer/songwriter Bobby Long. Bobby had been sitting on the other side of the aisle, but he moved up when two girls asked him to switch so they could sit together. Phil said he’s pretty shy, so if I’d been sitting next to him we might not have spoken at all.
Given the tight quarters and the fact that there was no freaking window for the poor passengers forced to sit in the very back row, insert pity party here, Phil and I fell into small talk pretty easily. When he revealed that he was three weeks in to a one-slash-two-year world tour with Bobby Long, I smiled and said, “oh!” but clearly had no idea who Bobby Long was.
Turns out he co-wrote the main song for the Twilight movie (which I have not seen, and have no real desire to see) and that thrust him head-on into famous… though according to Phil he’s “the real thing” when it comes to folk singing and songwriting. Which of course he’s going to say as his manager, but he struck me as being more sincere than the stereotypical manager/agent. Or maybe it was his sexy British accent.
Regardless, we chatted for nearly the whole ride, which is something I rarely do. Granted it was under two hours. We agreed that the back row of the plane has a special “gang” dynamic since we’re all stuck in the back. Shaunette, the Memphis-based flight attendant who enthralled Phil with her accent and beautiful dark skin, was part of our gang when she sat in a pull-out seat in the aisle next to me during take-off and landing of the really bumpy flight. Good thing I’m not claustrophobic or overly sensitive to turbulence, because hoo boy.
Overall, my conversation with Phil was pretty normal. We talked about our families, the challenges of air travel, Ernest Hemingway, Neil Gaiman, Moxy Fruvous*, and, you know, the rigors of traveling the world playing sold-out gigs and becoming more and more of a recognizable public figure. I’m not one to get fangirlish over someone just because they’re famous, and Phil expressed appreciation for that. He referenced people whom he calls Shakers—those who instead of using actual words when they meet him and/or Bobby, they just shake or nod their heads a lot and make grunting half-words. Star-dazed, I’d say. I think I’ve seen enough celebrities, and had the opportunity to talk to a few**, to understand that they’re all humans and most likely overwhelmed by overbearing fans and I do not want to be THAT GUY.
Bobby had a gig in Denver that night, and since I’d told Phil that I was flying to Denver for my sister’s PhD defense, he invited me (with a plus-one) to come by the sold-out 350-person venue. As in, he would put my name on the list. Now that, in general, was enough to make me all giggly inside. I’ve never had my name on the list for a concert or anything like that.*** Schweeeeeet.
I wish it would have worked out, but ultimately it didn’t. Monique was pretty stressed while preparing for her defense on Thursday, so I decided that being with her was more important than attending a concert. Even if Bobby Long is some superstar 22-year-old folk sensation. Phil said that he’s planning a concert in (Colleen, are you listening?) Boise in November, so maybe Ben and I can drive in for that. Shaunette and I both had very good things to say about Boise, between screams from the two girls sitting across the aisle as we surfed the rough tide of the atmosphere in our pea-sized plane.
But Phil revealed his real motivation for the Boise show: he wants to visit Ketchum, Idaho. Boise will get to see Bobby Long because Phil is a HUGE fan of Ernest Hemingway. I found this very amusing, especially since I’m a huge Neil Gaiman fan, who is a (sort of ex-pat) British author. We each had a book out from our favorite authors. Except he hadn’t heard of Neil Gaiman. My jaw dropped and I cried a little, but then I figured “one less fan I have to beat down in line to meet him.”
In any case, staying with the fam turned out to be the right decision for the evening. Monique practiced her thesis presentation in front of the three of us on Wednesday afternoon, and it was pretty polished and pretty damn impressive. I wasn’t nearly as concerned as she was about her committee not passing her. Then we went out for dinner and afterward, while Monique pounded a few more molecules of information into her brain, I fell asleep while writing this blog entry.
*Moxy Fruvous is my favorite Canadian modern folk rock bands, but they’re no longer together. I swooned big time for hottie band member Jian Ghomeshi. At one point during today’s conversation, Paul mentioned meeting Billy Bob Thornton while swimming at a hotel pool in L.A., and I had to tell him about the time Billy Bob was a dick to my guy Jian on a radio talk interview this year.
**Writing that kind of slaps a pompous sticker on my face, but it’s not like I hang out with Brad Pitt when he’s in town or anything. (ZOMG pinch me now if that were true.) It’s just that I’ve been to a few geek conventions and I volunteer for Sundance, so I’m acclimating to being in the presence of celebrity-types. Uh, nevermind that maybe I wanted to lick Alia Shawkat’s face in June.
**I only imagine that if my name ever gets on a list or I get backstage passes, I will behave exactly as Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar did when they met Alice Cooper. Especially if local history is divulged.