Thursday, July 22, 2010

IDOLED part 2

So as I mentioned, I was sitting on the street at 5 am. This is after I had gotten my wristband two days before. There were about 10,000 people apparently in line to get wristbands to audition when the doors opened Thursday morning. Not wanting any part in that*, I decided to watch the crowd die down from my office/across the street, and then once the coast was clear, I made a quick jaunt up the block, got “registered”** and was squared away. I had a wristband and a seat ticket, but no clue what I was going to wear or sing. You can see how prepared and into this I was (not very).

Somehow, I managed to hide that heinous purple wristband for two full days from everyone in my office. Maybe they noticed it, but no one asked me about it. In fact, it wasn’t until I was at boxing class on Thursday night (yes, BOXING class. Maybe that's what prompted the "angry" post on Friday, come to think of it...) that I was finally asked about it. The trainer was wrapping my hands and asked about it, and since it was a coworker that had let me tag along with her, she heard me explain and freaked out. You see, they had been bribing me with money and lunches to go audition. I don’t know why I was so secretive about it. I think I just didn’t want people to think I was pinning all my hopes and dreams on this, like so many people you see during the audition episodes of the show. Let's be honest. I was there 50% to see how short Ryan Seacrest is in real life, 40% for good stories/blog material, and 10% because I thought I had a shot in hell at getting a golden ticket. But I digress. So I was a slave to that stupid wristband. You weren’t supposed to get it wet, so I showered with a baggie on my hand. I hid it under my watch when I could. Lucky me, no one mentioned it.

Friday night rolled around. I eventually decided I'd better get prepared. So I chose what I wanted to wear (went for comfort, not "appeal") and then packed a bag with a change of shoes, some Cheerios for breakfast and some Cheez-Its for a snack. They had said to be prepared to stay there all day, but clearly I was underestimating what they meant by "all day" if I really thought a baggie of Cheerios and some Cheez-Its were going to tide me over. I figured the concession stands would be open so I could supplement my hunger with a hotdog or something if I had to. I charged my iPod and camera battery. As I packed, I double-checked the Audition Do’s and Don’ts. The list of what you could bring was pretty normal – banners, blankets, bottled water, small bags, sunscreen, cameras, etc. But the list of what you COULDN’T bring was a little weird. Listed among the air mattresses, folding chairs, fireworks and animals, I sadly realized I would have to leave my hibachi grill and my medieval sword at home. The day was already off to a bad start!

3:30 am came all too early. First thing I did was check the weather - if it had been raining, this tale would be over right here. I will do a lot of stuff, but stand around in the rain I will NOT. Luckily it was not raining, so I got ready and grabbed my bag of tricks (aka food and electronic devices) and walked bravely into the muggy morning. They told us to be back at the arena at 5 am. By the time I walked two blocks that direction, the line was already incredibly long. Later I found out that people had camped out overnight despite all the information being posted about that not being allowed. So I found a spot on the pavement about three blocks away from the front of the arena, spread out my blanket and just marveled at the chaos around me. There were tons of people with guitars: some playing them, some not. It was a real hodge-podge of people. Remember the audition ages are 15—28, which is a wide gap in my opinion. And most people (not me) had a buddy (not aged 15—28) with them. There were SO. MANY. PEOPLE. I figured we had to be near the end of the line. I was wrong. They eventually ran out of blocked-off street and sent people back up towards the arena to begin filling new streets and areas that were blocked off.

Which brings me to this important point: there is no one on earth I love enough that I would sit through this again for their benefit. It was a LONG day. Glad I did it once, but if the show is on the air when I ever have kids, their father will be taking them or I’ll appoint another legal guardian for the show. Mama ain’t putting herself through all this again.

So I’m sitting there, the sun’s not up, I’m sweating profusely, and not going anywhere anytime soon. There’s a circle of people behind me singing everything from Jason Mraz to Glee to Colbie Caillet to David Crowder. Honestly, those types of people came across as peeing on their territory a little bit. Sing quietly to yourself to warm up and pass the time all you want. But these people were belting at the top of their lungs… in the dark… sitting on the street… at 5 am. Total twilight zone, right? Every once in a while, a crew member would come running by or driving by on a golf cart, camera in tow, filming how long the line was. Or looking for weirdos. Probably both.

Since I was still pretty far in the back of the line, that was about all of the filming I saw at that point. I could hear but not see the crowd shot filming. Finally people surged forward and I realized they were going to actually let us get this party started. This was the most literal experience of hurry up and wait I had ever practiced. They’d let a certain amount of people move forward towards the doors, and then stop the crowd. Lather, rinse, repeat. You’d “briskly walk” forward (because there was “NO RUNNING!”) and then be stopped. Walk. Stop. Walk. Stop.

I could see the doors. I was almost inside! And now I will tell you about my biggest regret of the whole experience. This will make you laugh. Remember how I had filled up a baggie with Cheerios? Yum. Breakfast of champions. And did you see FOOD listed on the items we couldn’t bring inside? THEY MADE ME THROW AWAY MY CHEERIOS. (Sidebar: does this part of the story remind anyone else of "HE PERMED ME!"?) A whole baggie full. That's at least two morning's worth. Honestly. I was so busy NOT packing my medieval weaponry that I was completely blindsided – and disappointed – when the security guy told me I had to toss them. Harrumph. I wouldn’t have brought them if I thought I wasn’t allowed to. For shame! American Idol 1, LJ 0.

Once inside, I made my way to my seat. The seat tickets are handed out in order of registration. Since I got there at 10 am on Thursday, I was not one of the first people there… but also not one of the last. My seat was in the middle of the pack. See the red circle below? That’s me! The aqua sections were the people were the first in line, and the poor pink people must have flown in town late Friday night:
I found my seat and settled in. Next up: the longest ten hours of my life!


  1. been waiting with baited breath for these posts since Evan showed me your BBM convo on Saturday night ... !

  2. oooh I CAN'T WAIT to read more!!!!!

    By the way, my word verification to type is "wookie." bhaahaha that makes me laugh

  3. This is fantastic... can't wait for the next installment!

  4. My favorite part are the "winners" warming up their vocals at 5 in the morning. ... peeing on their territory.


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