(If you haven’t already read Volume I of The Story of when I met Lionel Richie, click here.)
How do you sleep knowing that the next day you’ll be meeting (and hopefully hugging) Lionel Richie?
“Will the double-tape deck boom box be under the Christmas TV so that I can illegally dub my friends tapes on to those see-through, colorful memorex tapes? It’s ok if it’s an audiovox, I’d like a Sony, but audiovox will do… Please Santa, please!”
(It’s funny how 37-year-old excitement can resemble 9-year-old excitement. This is yet another example of me not feeling my age.)
You guys. Does life get any easier than air travel without lugging bags and crafts and snacks and sneezing and wheezing and whiny kids?
Who wants to do that again? Me. I just raised my hand.
I want to do this again. I want to travel without my children again.
The name “Lionel” was uttered from my lips so many times throughout this trip and he just went with it.
Let’s ask him. (I’ll be including Craig throughout this post.)
Me: “Craig, on a scale from 1-10, 10 being the highest, how excited did you think I was to see Lionel?”
Craig: “I mean, 10 is actually the lowest for you. You were far higher than a 10.”
I love this man. I was seriously a 20.
The mothership is calling me home.
We check in at the Wynn Encore Tower Suites (uh-mazing) and we eat dinner with our good friends. Dinner was exceptional. There was a buzz in the air.
|I’m so excited I can’t look at the camera, I guess.|
You’ve got four friends, slightly exhausted from their careers, slightly pumped to be away from their daughters… and to top it off, we are all excited to be meeting Lionel tomorrow. (I can prove without a shadow of a doubt that 50% of us were beyond excited, I can’t be convinced of the other 50%. They were happy to participate in this Lionel holiday, they were looking forward to the experience; but I’m not sure they were 20’s on the “Excited to meet Lionel” scale. I’m referring to the men.)
|I am in LOVE with Insanity Max 30 right now.|
|Yes, I took a photo of nearly every Lionel sign I saw. You’re lucky you’re only seeing a couple.|
Um, I wore the bracelet quite proudly. (Duh.)
|The VIP bracelet is right below my Gram’s bracelet. Gram went with me to see Lionel.|
We received our instructions and were told when and where to meet before the concert, along with the 15 or so others who would also be meeting & greeting The Lionel.
The dry-run from our hotel to the theatre made me feel comfortable with the evening. Usually, I’m a fly-by-the-seat-o-my-pantalones gal who has no issue just Google mapping something beforehand. I have no issues trusting my Uber driver.
Um, you don’t fly-by-the-seat when you’re meeting Lionel Richie. Instead, you need to know WHERE you are going, HOW LONG it will take you to get there and by WHICH ATM machine you need to be be waiting for his pre-meet & greet representative.
Can I get an amen?
Finally, I’m ready.
I make Craig help me with the next part. (Seriously.) I am standing in the hotel bathroom practicing photography because I have NO idea how to pose next to Lionel. (I never know how to properly stand. Junior-high students can pose better than I do.)
Now, at this point, we’re not sure how the meet and greet is organized. Can we use our cell phones to take pictures? Can someone take video? How will all of this go down?
My favorite was the completely tatted-up, Full-Sleeves Fella who had Lionel Richie’s face tattoo’d on his calf (for the win). (Incidentally, Lionel signed his leg at his turn in the meet & greet so that Full-Sleeves-Guy could have the ultimate Lionel tribute. I mean, if you’re going to do it, go big – right? TATTOO LIONEL RICHIE ON YOUR CALF AND THEN ADD HIS REAL LIFE SIGNATURE SURROUNDING HIS STORIED AFRO on your leg. That way you can have it forever. I love when people go all in. Life’s too short.)
In truth, I don’t even know that I’ve really gotten past the meeting him part.
I am GOING TO BE MEETING LIONEL RICHIE, so my seat during the show? Not important.
(Note, some of the details and the order could be a bit off… I was running on pure adrenaline and well, not taking notes.)
So here’s what he tell us:
|The VIP lanyard. The happier I get the more my upper lip retracts, I guess.|
But I stopped because: my makeup and smokey eye. (Note: I absolutely was wearing waterproof mascara for fear of eyes flooding with happy Lionel tears.)
I couldn’t stare at the piano, instead I had to move along. We were led through a side door of the theatre door into an outdoor space that would allow us to enter the back stage area of the theatre. We were metal-detected and told that Lionel would see us soon.
|Blurry photo of Craig being detected for metals. EVERY PICTURE I WAS TAKING was blurry.
First time with a camera? APPARENTLY SO.
Craig asks when our flight home is?
I respond with, “NOT THE TIME, CRAIG.”
This is not ideal.
A.) We want a group shot with our friends.
B.) I wanted iPhone video
Still, we handle the sitch with grace and ease.
“Craig, I want my own picture with him. So… sorry. There won’t be a photo of the three of us.”
Let’s ask Craig how he felt about me declaring that I wanted a one-on-one picture with Lionel:
Me: “Craig, what did you think about me telling you before we met Lionel that I wanted a one-on-one pic with him. Without you in it?”
Craig: “I would have given up my photo with him just in case you didn’t like your photo. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t love The Lionel the way you love The Lionel. I don’t know if anyone loves Lionel the way you love The Lionel.”
A&B will meet The Lionel first.
I will follow. By myself.
Craig will get a picture with him if there’s time.
We’re told it’s time to move into the hallway area facing the door to the backstage space where The Lionel is assumedly waiting to meet me.
(Note, I know he wasn’t waiting to meet me. But that would have been cool if he had been.)
|That smile couldn’t be bigger. Note: all the gums.|
This narrow room very much so reminds me of a tornado drill in high school.
Except this time I was far more dressed up and excited.
|Um, you couldn’t get me to leave this Hallway-to-Lionel if you TRIED.|
We waited in the small hall-like room for about 10 minutes and I’ll be honest, I was strangely calm. Under pressure, or in times of excitement, I think my heart rate drops quite a lot. You can absolutely count on me to hold it together.
Before or after said event? I’ll lose it. But trust that I can handle everything during the event.
Let’s get Craig’s perspective on that:
Me: “Craig, is that true what I just said about me being calm when necessary?”
So the door opens, A&B walk through… and there he is, standing against a step & repeat backdrop, wearing all black and a necklace (like I had guessed)…
There was the sweetest man on the planet.
|A&B — chatting up The Lionel. Aren’t B’s blue suede shoes great?!|
Here I am, standing 4 feet away from a man who is absolutely radiating positive energy. He was so welcoming to my friends. I could hear their banter and small talk and I can’t even imagine how much I was smiling.
I do remember someone in his entourage saying something to me, but I don’t know if my eyes ever stopped staring at Lionel.
I am literally just feet away from a man who I have loved first by sound, then by sight (that hair), for the majority of my life.
Next, it was my turn.
Wan to hear our conversation?
The Lionel: “Look at you! How do you know my music?”
(He hugs me. A polite, side hug.)
Me: Oh Lionel, I grew up listening to your music. I listened to it with both of my parents and now, my parents have both passed… and each time I listen to your music, I think of them… it’s…
Lionel hugs me again… then he put his hand on his heart and he picks up where I left off, “…It’s a connection.”
Me: “Yes. It’s a connection.”
Then we hugged for the THIRD time. And we kept talking. About what? No clue.
I think he thanked me for coming and said more… but by this time I was literally just in aw, trying not to cry. Thanking GOD that Lionel wasn’t a Grumpy Bon Jovi.
We took our ONE picture.
Finally he said, “You can’t be here by yourself. Where’s your security?” (That witty Lionel…)
And I’m all like, “I”m here alone. That’s my brother (pointing to Craig.)”
That’s when Craig joined us. They exchanged pleasantries and we got another photo.
How long did that interaction last?
How much of an impression did it make on me?
A substantial one.
I walked away, smiling and with tears in my eyes.
Smile taking over my entire head. Upper lip completely gone at this point.
He was so nice.
He was an active listener and he was kind and authentic.
He was everything I hoped he would be.
As we were walking out of the backstage area, you could have just walked me home and that would have been fine. I’ve heard of Cloud Nine, that was definitely Cloud Twelve. Throw in a donut, and it could have been Cloud Thirteen.
On our way out, we saw a rather cool looking guy walking into the backstage area and I said something out loud about how The Lionel was just.so.nice. and the cool-looking guy heard me said, “He really is a nice guy…”
And he kept walking.
Immediately my friend called it and said, “Hey, you’re in the band, right? You’re the bassist.”
The guy kept walking and said, “Nope, I’m just part of the team.”
He was totally the bassist. And his name is Ethan Farmer.
So the night actually GETS better, you guys.
We’re walking to our seats.
We keep getting closer to the stage. I’m thinking, “Cool, we’re pretty close…”
You guys, we were in the SECOND ROW.
I’m crying at this point.
|(I’m crying. TAKE THE PICTURE ALREADY, CRAIG.)|
I am literally 12 feet from Lionel Richie’s stage (maximum).
I just met him.
We hugged three times.
Stop it all.
Before the show started, we picked up our VIP badges, our posters (I’ll have the both framed: one for the Bungalow in Ohio and one for here in Cabo) and some merchandise. I may or may not have bought myself 3 t-shirts and a coffee mug. (Not to mention a shirt for each of the girls and my Mom-in-law.)
Shall we bring in Craig again?
Me: “Craig, what did you think about my merchandise purchases at the Lionel Richie Store?”
Craig: “I rolled my eyes and handed the guy my credit card.”
I think what he meant to say was, “This was a once and a lifetime opportunity for my wife and of course she needed 3 Lionel Richie t-shirts.
(I didn’t buy enough. There’s one more I want. It’s here. The black glitter one.)
So on our way back to our seats my friend recognized Lionel’s manager from the meet and greet. We chit-chat some and he basically reaffirms what I, my friends and the bassist have already confirmed: Lionel is a good, good man. His manager was friendly as we asked our questions. (Lionel flies in from L.A. each night of the show and is back home, in his bed, by midnight.)
So, back to our SECOND ROW SEATS we go and we wait for the magic to happen.
|That’s me. TOUCHING the stage.|
And take more pictures, of course.
Meanwhile, I talk to one of the security guys and he says that the Lionel is SO nice and that Britney Spears, who apparently occupies this theatre, is not lovely to her meet & greets peeps. The Lionel for the win. AGAIN.
It’s Lionel’s night.
Then it happens.
the FIRST TWO ROWS are allowed to STAND NEXT to the stage and dance and sing the night away.
I’m shaking my head as I type this.
He sang, he danced, he showman-shipped.
He was witty and funny and adorable.
And he was pointing at us.
I loved that he’s someone’s DAD.. dancing and singing HISTORY on stage.
I was actually floored by how good he sounded.
It was amazing.
He literally sang every single song that I knew and loved. (See the setlist here.) Pennylover, Truly, Hello, Sail On, Easy… I mean, come on.
(There are TONS of videos in my google album…)
We sang and danced. His SWEAT was inches from me. (ew)
I touched his hand while he sang.
My face was on the big screen.
My ELBOWS got sore from resting them on the stage.
Ultimately, that day not only MET, but EXCEEDED my wildest expectations.
I met a man that I respected, that was a direct connection to my heart… and he was kind.
Then I got to sing and dance to all of my favorite songs… next to the stage, NEXT to the singer I’ve loved and respected.
With amazing friends.
I don’t need anything else.
I’ve met and hugged Lionel Richie . Now what? I suppose I just need to raise two kind, empathetic, hard-working kiddos and my job here on earth will be done.
So when the concert was over, we basked for a little while… until the security told us it was time to leave.
We picked up our photos… and I was so nervous. I NEVER like photos of myself. And this one, this one is an important one. I mean, it’s more than likely going to be our Christmas card this year…
…so first I saw the one of the three of us…
…and then I saw us.
And I couldn’t have been happier.
The perfect ending to an extraordinary experience.
(In case you’re wondering, I’m still smiling…)
…and this might be my Christmas Card.
There are SO.Many.CLIPS of him singing.
P.S. Look, my pic was the top trending pic for the hashtag #lionelRichie on Instagram.
Life goals. 🙂