FACT: I had simply forgotten how to think before speaking.
FACT: I had simply forgotten how to think before speaking.
The last 24 hours had been nothing short of overwhelming. For someone like me, who knew very little of the clocklike routines that had to be met at nearly every moment to put on a flawless show, the first day on tour had been a learning experience to say the least. I could now perfectly comprehend the quick instructions that were barked into the radio by various members of the crew as well as take care of 3 customers at the merch booth at once. Unfortunately, my most daunting task had turned into something of a disaster the first time around.
Zach had allocated me the responsibility of wrangling and managing the members of the bands’ fan club, Northern Downpour, in order to efficiently carry out a meet and greet with the band. He had drilled into my head the procedure of the daily event, walked me through step-by-step exactly what I needed to do and say, even guided me through the venue to be sure I led the group to the appropriate meeting location. Despite all of his precautions I couldn’t help but feel intimidated by the masses of female fans that had been waiting outside the venue for most of the day.
With a handful of paper wristbands in one hand and a list of names on a clipboard on the other, I worked my way down the line to gather only those lucky enough to win this chance to meet the band. I was greeted mainly with blank stares or disappointed sighs as if they didn’t know what I was talking about or they were still trying to figure out what about me communicated that I was somehow going to mess this up. Their lack of confidence in my ability definitely fed into the fact that I had already failed in an attempt to quit the tour and go home today.
I had almost managed to work up a sweat walking up and down the line, explaining my task and tracking down the fan club’s members when my radio chimed. The alert was meant to tell me to proceed with the group inside the venue. I took a deep breath, marched to the front of the line, and opened the door (somewhat expecting to be flattened to the ground by some sort of stampeded). I was luckily mistaken; although it was clear commanding the attention of the group was going to take a skill that Zach had yet to teach me.
With the group of 30 or so identifiable by their green wristbands lined up against the wall of a long corridor I tried three times to gain their interest simply by clearing my throat. The failure I felt stemmed less from the fact the sound was barely heard over their excited chatter and more because I was sure my inability to complete this task would make an even further bad impression on the band I was now employed by. I had already thrown a tantrum worthy of a soap opera close up and tried to storm off the bus.
A strong desire to right what I had already wronged in just a few hours sent a wave of courage rumbling through my ribcage with a shout that shocked them all into silence. “Thank you,” I added meekly now that all attention was turned toward me.
As I’m sure their interest in what I had to say was going to fade quickly I began repeating the rules Zach had me memorize just an hour before. “You can get one small thing signed, like a CD or a magazine. Whatever you have signed must not be attached to your body. No leaning on the table. No hugs. No pictures the first time through.” I said loudly enough to make myself sound authoritative, “Once you finish going through the line once, you’ll get back in line. We’ll go through again and everyone will have the chance to take a picture with the band. Don’t even both taking your cameras out until the second time around. Any questions?” I immediately regretted the last two words when a flood of questions escaped the once quiet group.
“What happened to Zach?” seemed to resonate throughout the group.
“Don’t worry,” I assured them, “Zach’s still around. He’ll bring the guys as soon as I let him know that we are ready.”
An assortment of “We’re ready” echoed from the group and I couldn’t help but laugh. Pressing the TALK button on my ready I stated a clear “All Is A Go” before turning back to the group.
“I forgot the most important rule and Zach will probably kill me if I don’t tell you. If you forget all else, just promise me that you won’t be creepy!” The girls laughed for the most part already familiar with Zach’s biggest rule.
The guys arrived a few minutes later followed by Zach and Regina. They took their seats behind the table that had been set up and the kids from Northern Downpour began filing along in front of them one at a time. I tried not to stare, but they all seemed to have this way of making sure each encounter, although brief, was memorable. I heard Jon’s laughter fill the air as he nudged Brendon to show him a comic they had been given. The young artist smiled proudly as all four of them admired her work. My eyes locked on him, and as much as I tried to divert them, instead I slowly noticed that his face was thinner than the last time I had seen him, his hair was shorter, he was smiling .
I breathed a sigh of relief as Zach clapped his hand on my shoulder and muttered something along the lines of “Not Bad.”
Regina on the other hand had far more to say but I tuned out most of her lecture on learning to behave myself. I was raised to say “please” and “thank you”, uphold the finest etiquette, and knew how to conduct myself in social settings. It wasn’t much of a stretch to say I was acting like a Primadonna and really, I even knew better than to blame my outburst on the elevated hormone levels that came with pregnancy. Yet, as Regina recounted a few phrases spoken by the two band members I hadn’t even officially met I was embarrassed by my own behavior, embarrassed I had let another encounter with Ethan rattle me so much, and embarrassed of the unplanned pregnancy that brought me here to begin with. Just as she was noticing that maybe she had chosen a poor time to remind me of my weaknesses so far we were interrupted by a quiet voice.
“You’re Regina aren’t you?” A young girl, having just taken her picture with the band, asked unsurely.
“Yes...” Reggie trailed off unsurely.
The girls speech was quick and excited, almost sounded as though she though she were doing something wrong, “I’m sorry if I’m bothering you, it’s just I thought I recognized your picture from one that was posted on the Northern Downpour boards a week or two ago. You know when the rumors first started that you were Brendon’s new girlfriend...and I’m not asking you to confirm that or anything although if it is you he’s been talking about in the journal entries he’s been posting than I’m INSANELY jealous. I was just wondering if I could get my picture taken with you?”
Regina laughed, obviously flattered. She called to Zach who was in the process of ushering out the last of the fan club members to take the picture of her and the girl who couldn’t have yet been old enough to receive a driver’s license. Brendon and the rest of the guys hung back, both appearing to wait for Zach and stay out of the way of the camera. Surely they were all already seeing spots from all of the flashes pointed in their directions.
I hadn’t noticed how close Jon had been standing to me until he leaned over to whisper in my ear, “You know pretty soon they’re going to be lining up to get their picture taken with you too,” He teased.
I was unable to resist the words as they spilled off my tongue, “But I’m no one’s girlfriend.” Jon simply shrugged and stepped backwards to join his band mates in conversation. Regina said a quick goodbye to the last fan and then linked her arm with mine. It was a gesture that was both familiar and comforting especially when coming from my best friend.
“Cassie, seriously hun, what are we going to do with you?” Her obvious concern that she had overheard everything. I leaned my head on her shoulder as we brought up the end of the procession back towards the bus. My silence explained more than any words could have. If this were to be any indicator of the rest of the tour, I may not be strong enough to make it.