Saturday, May 29, 2010

Stalking the Jonas Brothers

Okay, I recently went way above and beyond the call of motherly duty last week. Way, way, totally astronomically above. So above that if my daughter doesn't one day realize it, then... well something unpleasant will befall her (grin).

Jess is obsessed, OBSESSED, with the Jonas Brothers. She went to meet them back in 2007 when they were playing small crowds and was hooked. I have taken her to well over a dozen of their concerts or appearances, in 2008 she camped out all night with a girlfriend in front of the studio where Regis & Kelly is taped in the hopes of scoring tickets the next morning (eventually joined at midnight with other insanely loyal fans), and it paid off with front row seats. Also in 2008 she was named the Jonas Brothers "Super Fan" by Forbes in their summer Entertainment issue. It goes on... and includes what I call - and others concur with this description - stalking.

The JoBros were to make an appearance on "Good Morning America" on May 21st, which also happened to be her 17th birthday. "I've got to go the concert! And I've got to go to their hotel the night before so I can see them!" she cried. "And then I will go line up at the entrance to Central Park at midnight."

Say what?!

"There are no guarantees that you will see them at their hotel, and, over my dead body - and maybe yours - will you be hanging out in Central Park all night! Are you crazy?" But I knew the answer. Yes, yes she is crazy, as only a teenage girl with a starstruck, large crush X3 can be.

Within moments she had convinced me to book a hotel room not far from where the Jonas Brothers usually stay (the Trump International Hotel), so that allegedly after she saw them there, she would come back to our hotel, catch some sleep for a few hours and then I would walk her over to the entrance to the Park in the wee hours, and make sure there were other insane teenage girls and their moms already camped out.

We arrived at the Trump at 4:30 in the afternoon, and clearly there were other girls just as stalkerish as she because when we arrived there were already over a dozen starry-eyed fans standing behind crowd-control type barriers on either side of the entrance to the hotel. It's like the Trump was encouraging it! I stood outside of the barrier as I knew I would need to break away from the madness from time to time, get something to eat or drink, go back to our hotel for a restroom break, etc.

For about an hour I chatted up a couple of paparazzi, the presence of whom energized the crowd into believing that the appearance of Kevin, Joe and Nick was imminent. Even I thought, "Cool. They'll be here soon and then we can leave, get room service, watch 'Grey's Anatomy..." Oh, how wrong I was. Ditto the paparazzi.

Long story short, at some point I brought Jess a sandwich and a chai tea from Starbuck's (which she didn't take more of a sip of because she didn't want to have to need to go to the bathroom and risk - gasp! - missing the brothers). I went back to the hotel about 6 p.m., returning at 7:30 because she wasn't picking up her cell phone, and I spent a good 20 minutes trying to remember exactly what she had been wearing, was her hair up or down... all the things I would need to tell the police in case she had been snatched from the stalk-the-Jonas Brothers-cage.

At 7:30 there had still been nary a sign of Kevin or Joe or Nick. Every time a black Escalade pulled up the crowd would inhale expectantly for a few seconds and then begin to squeal. Just before 8 p.m., "their" driver pulled up, but the car was empty. He hopped out and walked into the hotel which caused all manner of speculation, and primping and juggling for position behind the barriers. The front door to the hotel was held open by jazzily dressed doorman, and.... out came MRS. Jonas, their mom, no sons in tow; apparently they were still out and she was meeting them for dinner. She still rated some flashbulbs and a few cries of "Denise! Denise!" Then - poof! - she disappeared into the warm New York night.

By 10 p.m. I was growing very weary. Yet I figured I had committed X-amount of time to this already that I might as well try and stick it out for at least a half an hour more until they all came back from dinner. After only 15 minutes I told myself I would leave by 10:30, and at 10:23 the long-awaited car carrying the boys pulled up. A burly body guard jumped out first, demanding that those of us outside the barrier stand back (as if the paparazzi was going to do that!). The brothers main bodyguard Big Rob (very, very big Big Rob) opened one of the doors and stuck like glue to the middle, heartthrobby brother, Joe. And then Nick and Kevin (the oldest, newly married one) hopped from the SUV and I went momentarily deaf from the high pitched screams.

Luckily, Big Rob lead Joe right over to Jessie's barrier and since she was stuck up against it, she was able to snag a self-taken photo with the young man. And then, apropos of nothing or maybe everything, as a girl next to Jess pleaded for a photo, I stepped in front of Joe and said, "Hey, Joe. I need a picture with you. I'm her (pointing at Jess) mother." Jess poised her camera with very shaky hands and told him, "Yeah, she has gone to about 15 of your concerts, so she deserves this!" and she snapped the photo, while I stood close to the kid and grinned. Maybe it was a little creepy of me to ask for the picture, but as Jess put it, I deserved it, dammit!

Successful stalking complete, Jess and three of her new barrier friends came back to the hotel room to use the toilet and clean up a bit, before heading over to Central Park and 5th Avenue to wait through the night with about 200 other fans who came prepared with sleeping bags and even tents!

The payoff the next morning at 5:30 a.m. was a 6 rows from the stage standing position, close enough to count the beads of sweat on the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato.

As I waited for Jess to leave the venue, and she came happily - albeit sleepily! - walking out, she declared, "This is the best birthday ever!" And it was.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Yin and the Yang of Prom

WESTON, CT - The year is 1974. It is a week before high school graduation and the night of the Weston High School Junior-Senior prom, held - ironically, as it will turn out for me decades later - at Waveny Mansion in New Canaan. The prom planning committee has chosen to be decidedly 1970's rebellious, declaring the attire for the event as semi-formal, thereby sparing the boys from adorning powder blue tuxedos with wildly wide lapels and shirts as frilly as a pirate's. It also means that the girls are free to wear dresses that will be decisively un-gownlike (my own frock was a full length, midriff bearing polyester number featuring garish red and blue flowers on it; my date wore a brown-and-white checked blazer, chocolate brown pants that matched a ridiculously broad chocolate brown tie topped off with a tie-clip fit for a grandpa). As it is 1974, the legal drinking age is 18. Pre-prom cocktail parties are thrown by someone's parents, and after sipping on an alcoholic beverage, the prom goers drive (!) to restaurants for dinner in neighboring towns. My group went to a popular steak house in Westport where we proceeded to order at least two pitchers of beer and one of sangria. And then drive to New Canaan, no questions asked, no adult eyebrows raised, nary a parent questioning the behavior. There was no alcohol served inside the prom venue, although booze was easily available in virtually any vehicle parked in the Waveny lot. The teachers and parents chaperoning prom occasionally troll the parking lot and around the grounds, but to the best of my recollection, no incidences are reportable or reason for punishment. Now here's how you know it was really the early, free-spirited 70's: at one point, my boyfriend and I were standing outside the mansion chatting up a favorite teacher. And the boyfriend and our teacher shared a joint; true story! But that was then, and this is now. My daughter, a junior, had her prom last month. The price of her prom dress was pretty much equal to my own high school clothes budget for the year. She had her hair professionally styled. Due to unfortunate sunburn marks from spring break, she had to have a spray tan. Thank goodness we wear the same shoe size, because this whole deal was costing unfathomable amounts of coin, therefore I insisted that she sport the same heels that I had worn to my high school reunion last October; there was some poetry to that. Nine girls got ready at our house, and then their dates and assorted parents came by for pictures and refreshments. We did not serve alcohol to the parents, and - obviously - not to the kids. But I did hear the girls chatting about a post-prom party ostensibly being hosted by one girl's parents at which alcohol was to be served to the teens in attendance. I was stunned as I heard the details. Allegedly the guests were going to be sleeping over, thereby avoiding any drunk driving exploits. That tidbit hardly made the whole thing sound like a good idea. There were several of my classmates who didn't remember, still can't fully recall, exactly what occurred at the end of our prom night, and even some moments during the dance, due to the booze consumption. Which is really too bad. The prom, especially the inaugural one, is one of those special rites of passage during high school; beforehand you envision the magical-ness of it. Even if it doesn't live up to one's rose-colored projection, it is still a fun evening. Or should be. Lacing it with drugs or alcohol can often veer the experience into unfortunate and decidedly un-fun territory. I am glad that NCHS employs a breathalyzer at the prom door. You never know when the proverbial few bad apples might ruin the night for a few good eggs. As I watched my daughter and her white-tuxedo- clad date (with tails, no less!), I was at once wistful and tearful. Happy tears laced with the expected "I-can't-believe-she's-so-grown-up" mantra. And she was going to remember her prom. My wish is that your teen stays safe on Senior Prom night. Oh - and in fashionable attire as well!