Bear with me, I'm reeeaally dragging today but this is the last part...
Dennis The Dude had told us to stay in our seats while the audience cleared out and we'd be called to go backstage for the VIP meet & greet. The audience cleared, and there were 33 (Strider counted) of us going back. After a while a guy called for us to show our passes or pink bracelets (they must've been the $200 package people) and off we went.
We go up some stairs and around and down a hallway and into the backstage area. There are catering tables to the right, but that's not part of our deal. Ahead of us to the left is a table and chair with a black "Greg Lake" backdrop, obviously where Greg will be seated for the photos. And there's a line forming, like we're waiting to see Santa Claus. Where the end of the line goes round a corner, there's a Santa chair, in fact. I covet the chair. The Dude comes around handing out the "GL" tote bags that hold the signed poster, the cd, and the instructions for downloading the pix they'll be taking. Nobody whips out their own camera back here. What the photographer takes is what we'll get, online. Shit. I'd bet anything Strider's a better photographer than the guy they have. The photos will be available 1-2 days later, meaning today or Tuesday since it's almost midnight and we're still in line (haven't had time to check yet). The Dude comes around offering wine, which we decline. And we wait. We're about midway down the line. It winds around and down another hallway. The roadies are bringing Greg's equipment right through the line and we keep having to get out of the way. The organizer in Strider is getting annoyed. This could be done better. I smile.
The VIP crowd is a motley crew. There's a guy who reminds me of Rick Moranis in "Ghostbusters" trying to pick up the 3 aged groupie- types with an invitation to a "Very, very fun party". There's a guy randomly citing 60s pop culture bits out loud. There's a big, tall guy in tie-dye doing one-liners. And there's an MTA cop (his Levi jacket has MTA 9/11 patches as well as ELP) right behind me. "Somebody did too many drugs," he mutters. "Somebody took the brown acid," I say. "Wavy Gravy told them not to..." he smiles. Eventually we're moving along and get to see what the crowd has been waiting for. Greg seated at the table, official photographer taking a couple of shots of each person with Greg as he chats and signs things. I really only care that he signs one thing- me. And I've determined, since he's Greg, to just ask for him to sign my arm. I asked Strider what I should say (my brains long gone) and she gave me the perfect intro line. I'm next, behind Rick Moranis and his pal who babble incessantly at Greg as he smiles with a desperate look in his eyes. He looks up at me, smiling. I lose my mind. They leave. Strider says I should pull up and sit down on my walker next to him, and I do.
This is it. I'm sitting with Greg. I'm a deer in the headlights. His eyes are showing how tired he is and he's trying hard to hold patience with all of us nutjobs. I say, idiotically, "I spoke to you last week on a radio show about the CalJam dvd." He sighs. "Oh, I speak to so many.." This is going south. He looks down at the table. "You must talk to hundreds a week..." I lamely offer. "Yes, and have senior moments," he says. "Were you there, at CalJam?" "No, I was in New York; I saw all your shows at Madison Square Garden." "Ah," he says."Good shows." So I get to the point with Strider's line. "Greg, four months ago when we got these tickets I was hoping you'd sign my arm so I could have it tattooed." and I offer up my Sharpie and left arm. He sighs. "You know this is permanent, for life?" he says, in a rather fatherly tone and with warning eyes. "Yes, I have 2 others," I smile. He takes my left arm in one hand. "Hold very still. You're shaking," and he smiles at me, right in the eyes. Those eyes. Those eyes. His hands are huge, with noticeable arthritis, and he uses his calligraphy talent to write in Big Bold letters "Greg Lake" and under it, "xxx" around my arm. I'm ready to black out, and in fact I sort of fugue. I call Strider over, I think, at this point; it's blurry. She's been standing to the other side of the hallway watching with a great big smile. She comes over. We take pix. One or two of just Greg and me, a couple of Greg and Strider. What's racing thru my head is "I'm touching Greg! I'm touching Greg!" His white silk jacket under my fingers and him under that. And the photographer tells us to get in close for two of the 3 of us together. Some guy in line yells, "I want one of those!" Greg takes the cd she hands him and he asks who to sign it to, and she gives my name. What a daughter I have. Strider leans over the table, says something, and he holds her hand smiling The Big Nose Smile, eyes twinkling, and chuckles. I thank Greg again. He looks up and very Britishly says, "Goodbye." And that's it. The MTA guy moves into position with Greg. We take off into the night.
Later I ask Strider what she said to him. She got the Big Nose Smile, the one where his eyes twinkle like Santa Claus and his smile's so wide it disappears under the end of his nose. Nobody got that smile but her. Nobody. And she tells me, "I said "I have to be honest, I'm not here for you, I'm here for her. But it was lovely show." That's what made Greg smile like that.
I love him more than ever.
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