Tuesday, December 20, 2005

To Birmingham With Love

Five years ago I adopted Simon and he is the love of my life. No, he’s not a Cambodian refugee child. He’s a giant Shepard/Collie mix. His name wasn’t Simon at the pound. It was Levi. No offense to the jean company but I was not having a dog named Levi. As a writer, I wasn’t about to be denied the privilege of naming this character. Especially not when I’d had a name in mind for years.

When I tell people my dog is named after one of my favorite Brits, they say “You like Simon Cowell? American Idol is so annoying.” I shake my head. Then, especially if they are children of the 80’s, a light of comprehension spreads over their face. “Simon LeBon?” I smile and they either laugh, groan or hum “The Reflex” for me.

I fell madly in love with Duran Duran back in 1984 with the Seven and the Ragged Tiger album. Dreamy John Taylor was my first hardcore celebrity crush after Bo Duke. He started a lifelong obsession with all things British. I liked John because he seemed like the sweetest one, the good heart. He’d endured a childhood of being the odd kid, being teased. I could relate. He seemed really close to his family according to 16 Magazine. Plus he was the tallest and it was clear from a young age I’d hit six feet. I read everything I could about him, saved all the Tiger Beats that had the slightest mention of the band and watched MTV for hours on end just hoping they would play “Rio” AKA, “Ohmygod, they’re wearing Speedos!”

As I got older I became obsessed with another Brit: Shakespeare. As my literary tastes matured and expanded, I decided it made more sense to crave Simon since he wrote all the lyrics and recites part of Queen Mab’s speech at the beginning of the “Night Boat” video. Besides, as a girl gets older, she moves away from the square-jawed sweetness of the good guy and gravitates more toward the impish danger of the bad boy. And to my good girl upbringing, Simon was plenty bad boy for me.

As my life has moved through phases of grunge, acid jazz, techno, shoe gazer and back to Brit rock by way of indie, the fab five were there going through breakups, career obscurity, retro cool, reunion and genuine resurgence.

As the teen need to rebel faded, my pendulum swung back to John. Of course I am a grownup so I call it a fondness rather than a crush these days. I do feel Simon makes a better dog name though.

Now as my LA life unfolds, it turns out one of friends actually knows John Taylor. He got her tickets and back stage passes to the Duran Duran tour this summer and like my fairy godmother, she made my dreams come true and took me.

Like any good rabid fan, I smuggled my digital camera in my bra and shot away during the concert and then back stage after. Yes, I really thought it would just be a handful of us special friends and maybe some family with the band. My poor friend must have seen my face fall as she walked me into the 200 plus crowd in the green room.

After chatting with some other people she knew, my friend said she’d introduce me to John and I tried to breathe. I asked her if I could get a picture with him but she looked at the swarm of star-fuckers John’s wife was fending off and hissed a quick no. His wife blocking me? She’d known him, what, maybe five years? I’d known and loved this man for two thirds of my life. But not wanting to embarrass my friend, I pocketed my camera. And, after a mere twenty one years I was shaking hands with my lovely, square jawed John Taylor. Determined to make a good impression, I sweated, stuttered and finally said something completely inane about him being my fairy godmother.

Later, my friend guided me in my post-John haze to the car. “Let down?” She asked. It wasn’t fair. Here was a relatively new friend who had gone out of her way to make a dream come true for me. I had no right to be anything but ecstatic. I realized there was nothing the poor man could have done to live up to the combined pressure of twenty one years of day dreams. Anything…short of falling on one knee and declaring me his long lost soul mate and true love. Yes, I really had hoped to make an impression on him, make just a tiny difference in his life for the huge one he’d made in mine. Yes, I really thought we’d laugh over the fact I’d named my dog after Simon. I’d get to tell him how I’d spent my thirteenth summer with my ear pressed to my boom box dutifully transcribing every single Duran Duran song because I needed the lyrics and there was no internet back then.

I had read bits to my mom who murmured “That’s some lovely poetry, dear.”

“It’s Duran Duran, mom. I told you they were the best.” I’d sneered.

“It’s not like he’s going to remember you from in there.” My friend comforted me. I knew she felt responsible for my let down. In the green room he was not John-her-friend, he’d been John-the-rock-star who was as much of an alien being to her as to me.

But this is Hollywood and everything is possible. Last week, I smooshed into a packed elevator and turned to face the closing doors.

“We can make this one,” said a smooth British voice as a tall, beautifully square-jawed man appeared less than three feet from me. He stopped, seeing the capacity crowd and for a moment we locked eyes. I smiled and the slightest cloud of “Do I know you?” passed over his face.

I willed myself to remain silently smiling at him as the doors closed while my inner eleven year old jumped up and down yelling “Ohmygod it’s John! Ohmygod it’s John!”

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Blogger Julie Goes To Hollywood said...

Heidi, I think you are my soul mate. My dogs were barking at some guy on my lawn and I opened the door and was like, hello? Why are you on my lawn, dude? He was on a cell phone and sort of shushed me. I was like, hey asshole, don't shush me. He went back next door, to my neighbor Matt's, who's a studio musician. Matt came over later and said, what's up with you and my friend John? "John who?" said I. "John Taylor. We're working on a song." In retrospect, he did look like a rock star. Either that or a criminal with expensive highlights.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

Last year my wife and I won tickets from a local L.A. radio station to fly to London, see Duran Duran at Wembley and meet them backstage before the show. I'm a big fan from my teens. So before the show, they put us all in this tiny, stifling little room right under the stage - about fifteen of us plus a few radio people. The Scissor Sisters are rocking right above us, so it's really loud too. And then in Duran Duran, all smiles, and they signed a bunch of stuff and stood for pictures with every couple, then rushed off directly onto the stage where they put on a killer show.

I have to say that John Taylor was absolutely the most down to earth, nice guy. I told him I thought he was great in Sugartown, and he seemed pleased. Simon had a cold and didn't say a word to anyone - to save his singing voice, they told us. Andy never took off his sunglasses and skulked in the corner. We saw the show with like 100,000 screaming Brits in the middle of Wembley, and 24-hours later were back in our mundane little lives in L.A.

Glad to have a fan to recount the adventure to! And welcome to the "scribosphere."

9:56 PM  

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