Sunday, January 29, 2017

He Kissed Me (Meeting Bruce Springsteen)

Every now and then the stars align and send down from heaven a reason to believe that sweeps away any doubt that the universe really is amazing.  Such a celestial event happened to me when I got to meet my hero, Bruce Springsteen.

Flash back oh about forty-two years when I first fell in love with The Boss.  I was going to college in Lincoln, Nebraska, at that time.  My roommates and I listened nonstop to KFMQ, our favorite radio station, while driving our cars or hanging in our apartment.  The first time I heard "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" I stopped everything to listen.  The second time, I said, "Damn.  Who is this??"  The third time, I went to Dirt Cheap to buy the album.  And from that moment on, with a major revival in the 80's courtesy of my little sister, Bruce Springsteen has been my man.  From 45s to albums to cassettes to MTV videos to cds to downloads to playlists to concerts, I have followed, been a groupie of, planned English lessons around, and loved The Boss.  He has been a major part of my story since 1974.  I always hoped to meet him some day, but I knew it would take a miracle for that to happen. Enter several glorious, Heaven-sent miracles.  In late November, 2016, the stars did truly align and shone brightly on a path that led to my meeting with Bruce. Each step of the way was kissed with miracles, making this meeting just destined to be.  


Miracle One--Ticket Success!

I knew that Bruce had made previous book signing appearances in major cites earlier in the fall.  I thought how amazing it would be to attend one, but most of them were on the East Coast or in California.  I kind of forgot about that actually--it seemed like he stopped after five or six book stores.  I happened to be watching the local evening news the week of Thanksgiving when out of the blue, a reporter announced that Bruce added a few more meet-and-greets, and Denver was one of the cities added.  I had to replay the segment to make sure I heard right.  OMG--I heard right.  He would be appearing at The Tattered Cover (my favorite bookstore) the next week, and tickets would go on sale the next day at 10:00 a.m. Shortly after this newscast, I received multiple texts and Tweets from friends alerting me to the news. With less than 24 hours to process, I knew I was going to try to get one of those tickets.

The next morning I probably wasn't the most focused English teacher out there, but fortunately, it was the day before Thanksgiving break, and my students were finishing projects.  I still hadn't come up with a plan for how I was going to slip away at 10:00.  I even thought for a split second that maybe I would just skip it.  So many rules to prevent ticket scalping were attached to the event, such as--only one ticket per transaction, and the ticket holder had to be the same name as the credit card used.  Plus, I knew from experience that it's not easy to get tickets to see Bruce in concert--websites crash and tickets sell out in minutes, oftentimes resulting in disappointment,   But still, I knew I just had to at least try.   This is the point where the stars began to align.  Attendance was exceptionally low periods 1 and 2. Period 2 ended at 9:56, so the four-minute passing time gave me time to log into EventBrite to scope it out.  At 9:58 the website displayed the message, "Event not on sale."  I refreshed at 9:59 and got the same message,  As fate would have it, at this time only two students had entered my classroom.  I watched the time on my phone change to 10:00, and I made the decision to refresh one last time.  

"One ticket is in your basket.  You will have 6 minutes to complete this transaction."  What????  I wasn't ready for that.  I was a shaking mess as I slowly typed my credit card and other information, telling myself to calm down, take my time, and check that all numbers and spelling were correct.  Breathe.  Six minutes is plenty of time.  Breathe.  Everything appeared to be correct.  It was time to push submit.

Spin . . . Wait . . . Spin . . .

And then . . .

Voila!  Confirmation.  One Ticket.  Just like that, I was going to meet The Boss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I couldn't breathe. OMG! OMG! OMG!  I am going to MEET Bruce Springsteen.

It wasn't until that evening when I fully understood just how miraculous it was that I got a ticket.  Comments poured onto Tattered Cover's FaceBook page admonishing their handling of the event--comments like:
What a cluster fuck. I was refreshing and clicked at 9:59:55 and it said unavailable. Clicked refresh as it hit 10:00:00 - saw green ticket bar, clicked, clicked checkout - immediately told me unavailable due to previous sales? Kept refreshing - every know and then the ticket bar would be there - clicked it, clicked checkout, same thing. Never even took me to a payment screen. It took 26 minutes for them to mark it as Sold Out. Not buying that tickets were all gone in the 3 seconds it took me to click ticket and check out. FUCK Eventbrite and their system.
Seriously? Had a ticket in my cart and got kicked out and now can't get back in.
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 Same thing happened to me! 😡
Had ticket in my cart at 4 seconds past 10. Hit checkout. Then unavailable. Bullshit
Cheryl Thompson

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Well that sucked 

And on and on . . .  The Tattered Cover apologized and explained that 25,000 people hit the site at 10:00, causing issues, but even with that, tickets were gone in three minutes.  With one try, a short 20 second processing spin, I had my ticket.  Thank you, stars!

Miracle Two--Nieces!

I don't know how I made it through Period 3.  I couldn't breathe.  I was in shock and close to having a panic attack.  One of my first thoughts after I realized that I had a ticket was, "What have I done??"  The fact that I only had one ticket hit me.  Being mobility impaired, I wondered who would help me get into the building.  Would I be able to get a personal day approved to attend?  I soon laughed those concerns off--the ticket was only $32.00.  If things didn't work out, it wouldn't be the end of the world.

During my lunch, I sent a message to EventBrite asking about taking a helper to just be in line with me,  Within five minutes they messaged back that absolutely a companion would be allowed but would not get an autographed book or a meeting with Bruce.  Understood.  
Thank you!

My next worry was who would want to take a day off just to go stand in an endless line for hours?  I didn't think anyone would.   I first tried my nephew Jake, but he knew he wouldn't be able to get the day off.  However, I had been texting my nieces about my ticket, who were happy but jealous beyond words.  At some point in the text, Micki said she put her name on a wait list for a ticket, and if it cleared, she would do a one-day trip from Nebraska. Wait a second, I said--I can take a helper. Then everything was turned upside down with Jill proclaiming, with love, that I had made the ultimate Sophie's Choice!




What is an aunt to do?  This aunt called The Tattered Cover directly to inquire about having two helpers, with no expectation that either would get to see Bruce.  As the stars would have it, I was connected to an angel by the name of Suzanne.  Suzanne checked with management, and they approved two assistants to check in with me, and from there, they would take over.  Done.  Both nieces were on board.  Thank you, stars!

Miracle Three--The Tattered Cover Staff

With seven days to wait after ticket success, I stressed about every little detail.  What exactly did TC's management mean when they said the girls could check me into the line, and they would take it from there?  Micki and Jill were fine with this, but I wasn't so sure.  And I really wanted them to at least see Bruce, but they were content just being in the same building.  I made at least three more phone calls to TC to verify that they both could be in the building, and each time, because the stars were still aligning, of course, Suzanne answered the phone.  Each time, she patiently assured me that both girls could check me in but would not be able to meet Bruce. I can't stress enough how helpful, understanding, and angelic Suzanne was.  Thank you, stars, for Suzanne!

And with that, 11/30/2016 arrived, and we were off.  TO MEET BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN!!

On our way!
With just a tiny cloud of worry trying to rain on my parade, we arrived at The Tattered Cover fully prepared to stand in the freezing cold (18 degrees--brrrr--but sunny--yay!) for hours.  After lucking into a parking space right across the street, we saw the line stretching outside the door.  We got in line, ready for the wait, and started talking with the people around us.  It wasn't long before we found out that we were in the wrong line.  This line was for people who had already checked in.  We needed to go to the check-in line first.  So off we went, around the back of the building, in search of that elusive check-in line.

l was starting to feel a little nauseous at this point.  Where in the world was this check-in line?  How long was it? And would the girls have to leave me at that point?  We still had no idea what was going to happen with that.  I felt a tingling on my wrist and remembered I had my Rosary bracelet on.  Knowing that, I said a quick Hail Mary as we entered the back door.  We had no idea where to go, but a friendly-looking store employee saw us in our confusion.  As we approached, her face brightened as she asked, "Are you Cheryl?"  She just happened to be the beautiful Suzanne who answered my calls of inquiry the week before.  There is just no way that Divine Intervention didn't arrange that.  She immediately took us under her wing and led us to an elevator that would take us to the check-in line.

Oh dear Lord--that line.  It snaked all the way through the bookstore (this is a large bookstore) out the front door and spilled around the block (we only learned this when we were leaving).  But never mind--we had our stars and Mother Mary lighting our way.  An attendant escorted us from the elevator directly to the front of the line.  What???  We had no idea what was happening, but another adorable employee asked for my name and i.d., verified with her boss that both girls could accompany me, and put wristbands on all three of us (theirs had a small sticker showing they were escorts) and handed us off to another amazing employee.  It was that fast, that painless, and that miraculous.



We all looked at each other in disbelief as we followed along,  We thought we would now be heading back to that first line on the other side of the building.  Instead, the employee headed to a second elevator that took us down another level where the meet-and-greet would take place.  When we exited the elevator, we followed our guy down a carpeted hallway lined with books.  We heard the distant hum of talking and laughing, and when we rounded a corner, we entered a gorgeous section of the bookstore that was abuzz with excitement.  My eyes took in a beautiful tapestry rug with a stand containing water bottles.  A row of photographers lined up in front of the rug, and behind a partition came lots of excited voices.  In a daze, we realized that our guide wasn't leading us to the line but instead took us on a shortcut and bypassed the line entirely. 

We were at ground zero, and Bruce would be standing on that very rug greeting his fans.  Still not quite grasping what was happening, I felt for my Rosary Bracelet to say another Hail Mary.  My worry was that any time someone was going to kick out Jill and Micki.  As we waited for Bruce, we scoped out who might do just that.  But all the employees were just waiting for Bruce, like we were, and they couldn't have been nicer.  We began to relax a little and just take it all in as the stars continued to align.
Waiting for Bruce!
Because the official line of Bruce fans was behind the photographers and a partition, we couldn't see most of them, but we could definitely hear their excited chatter and felt the concert-like vibes.  As it got closer for the time for Bruce to appear, a recording of "Born to Run" came on the speakers.  We and the crowd did what we would do at a concert--we sang along at the top of our lungs and yelled for BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE.  It was almost time . . .






Miracle Four--BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN!

It still wasn't registering with me that Bruce Springsteen would come out of the door that was twenty feet away, but at this time that door opened, and some very official-looking men walked  out to scope things out and then quickly went back and closed the door.  We knew then that Bruce Springsteen was in the building!  What I didn't get, but somehow Micki and Jill did, was that we were going to be the first to meet Bruce.  I just couldn't comprehend that, but before I could even get my iPhone ready for pictures, the door opened once more. This time, Bruce made his entrance.  

Bruce Springsteen is in the house!
Bruce stepped onto the rug, slightly bowed to the row of photographers, looked directly at us, and bowed to the photographers again.  At this point, I just let fate take complete control.  I had no idea where the girls were or even where I was for that matter.  I saw Bruce approaching me.  His eyes were focused on mine, and in that short approach, I saw every Bruce image stored in my memory--Bruce, fighting off girls bombarding the stage as he sings "Rosalita," and Bruce, leaning on Big Man's shoulder with that saxaphone, and Bruce driving a stolen car, and Bruce, dancing in the dark (with me, not Courtney!), and Bruce, singing about Reasons to Believe in Nebraska, and Bruce standing against the American flag.  I almost burst into tears as decades of memories and music flashed through my mind and heart. 
I was jolted back to reality with sounds from the clicking shutters and flashing lights as the paparazzi got to work.  I felt like a movie star and forgot everything I practiced saying.  I think I said, "Well hello, Bruce.  It certainly is a pleasure to meet you after all these years." And then . . .

Miracle Five--HE KISSED ME!!!

He said, "Hello darling" and leaned over and kissed me.  KISSED ME!
My entire face tingled after that simple kiss, let me tell you.  I might have grabbed his arm.  Yes, I think I did--I didn't want it to be over.


We both then turned to face the photographers for an official photo.  I said something else--maybe a thank you for your music line.  And just like that, it was over.  We had to move along.  

We went around a corner, and I just needed a moment to process what had happened. Micki was crying, Jill was texting, and I was in shock.  
Immediately after.  And lunch menu where we stopped to debrief!

Miracle Six--After 

Even though my meeting with Bruce was brief, I realized over the next few days just how far reaching and eternal it truly was.  For one thing, all the local news stations covered Bruce's appearance at The Tattered Cover.  I was beyond thrilled when I saw us in several segments.  Channel 7 even captured the kiss!!  Many friends texted or called to tell me they saw me on the news, and I could hear their own excitement as they relayed their news.




Of course I blasted this event all over social media as well. I heard from so many people--close friends, of course but also people I haven't heard from forever, and friends of friends, and complete strangers.  That they took the time to like or comment or call or share my good fortune added to the beauty of meeting Bruce.  It was as if they were meeting their own Bruce.  Here is just a sampling:



My heartfelt gratitude and love for everyone who shared this miracle with me.

Months have passed, but my meeting with Bruce is still fresh in my memory and in my heart.  My nieces and I continue reliving this memory and are forever bonded by something that no one else shares.  Friends still want to hear the story, and I am oh-so-happy to tell it!  My face still tingles from that kiss.  And those stars still align, casting a new glow on my soul, giving me all new reasons to believe.  

I hope you all have your own personal Bruce and that someday your prayers are answered and the stars align for you to meet him/her, too.  I would love to hear about it--please share your miracle!






6 comments:

  1. I absolutely love this story! Your meeting was meant to be.

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    1. Your comment means the world to me, Joann. Your writing is beautiful--I love reading your work.

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