Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Not Shy in Chi-Town

I turned 30 in January. My husband threw me a fabulous surprise party and then took fabulous to a whole new level when he whisked me off to Chicago for my present.

When we headed for the airport I had no clue regarding our final destination. For packing purposes he gave me a forecast and some minimal direction as to the type of things I would need to prepare for.  He waited until our bags were checked at the airport and our boarding passes secretly printed before finally sharing the surprises. They came in a wave of envelopes.

1. Chicago!
2. Tickets to Mama Mia!
3. Tickets to WAIT, WAIT, DON'T TELL ME!

The man is an excellent gift giver.

I don't need to convince anyone that I'm mildly obsessed with NPR. I've been listening to public radio in the mornings since I was a sophomore in high school. Garrison Keillor joined us on many family roadtrips during my childhood. I've trained for 5Ks, 10Ks and even the half marathon by tuning into Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me and This American Life.

Chicago has been on my travel list for years... but that's primarily because Wait, Wait is taped there before a live studio audience. My bucket list contains "Attend a live taping of Wait, Wait." For real.

Give me whatever label you like, but I'm not going to deny my love for Peter Sagal.

And the night of the taping, I suppose I sought to prove my dedication to the man. 

To fully understand this event, you have to imagine meeting one of your favorite entertainment personalities. We went out for a yet another great meal before taking a cab to the Chase Bank Downtown Auditorium. Seating is pretty much first come, first serve... so of course we arrived early to get a good spot in line. When the ticketing staff arrived they quickly informed everyone there was in fact, no line to be formed. Our line didn't exist. (What is this, the Matrix?) They would not recognize the line, and instead when the will-call table opened up it was just going to be a giant mad dash from every end of the basement room. I wondered if anyone had ever been trampled before, but then realized this was a public radio audience. So.. probably not? But D and I made a plan anyways. I would wait almost behind the tables while he picked up our tickets and then once I saw them in his hand I would make a mad dash to get us a spot at the "real line." We rushed the table, snagged a spot, picked up a program and proceeded to analyze everything about the night's show. At this point I was as giddy as all get out. I was even shaking a little bit. Not gonna lie.

We end up in the 3rd row and within feet of the small stage. The entire theatre holds about 400 people, so there really isn't a bad seat in the house. I simply wanted to be the closest to Peter Sagal, Carl Kasell, Peter Grosz, Roxanne Roberts, and Brian Bablyon as humanly possible. I wanted to be able to reach out and touch the earphones and microphones. (Not really, but kind of... yes.)

The show was thoroughly entertaining. We laughed all the way through. D even remarked how much he enjoyed the night. As soon as the taping drew to a close we were informed that we could line up and meet EVERYONE.  ("Everyone we know is doing what?? GIVING AWAY CANDY?"  "What do we have to do?) 

I don't usually stand in lines to meet celebrities. I don't purchase VIP tickets to concerts. I just feel awkward and I know I'm going to be an idiot. But this was different. I felt like these people were my friends. I had been listening to their voices for years, and besides... it's just public radio.

So I BOLTED for Peter Sagal's line. D had the camera out and I had my pen and program at the ready. I kept trying to think of something terribly witty and engaging to say. But by the time I reached Peter, I just word vomited. I don't know what happened. I said something to the effect of "OH MY GOODNESS. IT IS SUCH AN HONOR TO MEET YOU!! Blah, blah, blah. Gush, gush, gush." It was like that scene in A Christmas Story. And in spite of my meltdown he smiled professionally and asked my name and was about to send me on my merry way when I finally blurted out:

"If I was a 13 year-old girl, YOU would be my Justin Bieber!!"

This was followed by a brief period of uncomfortable silence as he signed my program. He finally replied with a smile, "Well, that's very interesting. I've never been told that before."

I laughed nervously and said thank you about a million times and let my husband take our photo before running away.

My internal dialogue for the next 3 hours: "GINGER. What did you do?!"

D reassured me that Peter wouldn't remember this story in the next hour, much less the next day. It was going to be ok.

So I wandered over and met Carl Kasell and then had a very nice discussion with Roxanne Roberts, before finishing off the night by telling Peter Grosz that I loved his work in the Sonic commercials. "Oh yeah," I said, "Big fan."

Big dork.
Awesome trip.
Chicago Art Institute.
Frozen Lake Michigan.
Ice Skating in Millenium Park.
Deep Dish Pizza.
Willis Tower.
John Hancock Building.
Wrigley Field.

Amazing husband.
Fabulous memories.


SKMorbys said...

You "word vomited?" !!! Oh, my! Did you EVER! Loved it all. And Peter Sagal should definitely read this. It's priceless!

Valerie said...

THAT'S Peter Grosz?????

(Insert sound of my brain exploding.)

Also: I behaved the EXACT same way when I met Andy Serkis. Word vomit all over the place.

han said...

<<<<<<<<<<3333333 Wait wait ! I am jealous to the core !!!! What a great trip !

Four Buttons said...

You've inspired me to listen to NPR now Ginger :) That was really well written and I could totally hear you word vomit as you wrote the dialogue!!! You're SO talented my friend, makes me miss you :)

Steve said...

This was a lot of fun to read and I could picture it all! Thanks for taking the time to entertain us!


Anonymous said...

How early did you get in the non-line for WWDTM tickets?

Ginger said...

I think we got "in line" almost two hours early and there were maybe 10 other people also waiting for about half an hour... I would recommend getting there an hour and a half early and bringing something to do. P.S. No real wifi/cell reception in the basement where the show is taped in Chicago. Enjoy!