When word spread that The Manly Men were coming to town, the fans knew they had to do the whole kit’n’kaboodle on that one. The best concert package was VIP Ultra, which many found to be worth the steep price: after all, the group was the biggest thing to hit this burb since… Elvis. Or maybe even James Brown.
The concertgoers arrived at the venue having to navigate the treacherous maze of parking lots. Coming alone was the better to take it all in, but the worse to navigate. Approaching two boys wearing the clothing of arena employees and playing soccer, the most popular response to the question of where to park was: “Just leave it up there”, with an arm thrown in the direction of a hill. The second most popular response was: “There’s a concert tonight?!”
Caveat: there was a difference between the VIP package and VIP parking, meaning the purchase of the former did not equal the purchase of the latter. When no other lot in sight appeared to be open, though, you took your chances, and some potential poor sap’s spot.
Check-in for the Very Important People was at 1400 hours. Arriving half an hour before that time, one was greeted by a long line of the adoring. There was a grand collection of T-shirts, creative signs, and cocktail dresses. Some unhappy male faces were sprinkled throughout, revealing themselves to be devoted boyfriends. One man on the line looked happy: he wanted to be there. Oh yes he did.
The line-waiters eventually were bestowed with the sacred talisman of the VIP, which would be added to collections everywhere. The exuberance of the crowd gradually shifted to concerned annoyance as the wait time encroached upon the pre-paid special time with The Men. Would the fans not receive the full experience owed to the VIP? Would they need to demand a refund mightily, and post complaints online nastily? It almost seemed that this would be. Several people on the line relaxed on their beach chairs and finished the novels they had brought for just such an occasion. Meanwhile, plans to storm the gates were underway, and grappling hooks were prepared. A party was in place to fire its human cannon when the gate opened for a VIP group, one that somehow ranked above Ultra. There was an unusually large number of people who were special that day – maybe everyone attending was, in fact, a Very Important Person.
The remaining groups then rushed the gates – what about the lines? A sense of order needed to be restored, and quickly. Event staff members understood the danger they were in and began calling groups in the proper order, three hours after their initial arrival. There was a nagging suspicion that the band members were still sleeping on their bus when the VIPs first had arrived – those who had that thought kept it to themselves, so as not to ruin it for everyone.
As the first line advanced to a new line, the sunburns advanced to second degree. There were many notes to self: next time, bring a hat.
The staff guided the line-waiters to the main audience seats, where The Men could be seen closer than they would be four hours from then, during the actual show. The individual band members then slowly and purposefully trickled out to the main stage, turning on the audience’s screams as each one arrived. Four men made up The Manly Men – Michael, Andy, Sandy, and Luke – but Luke was missing, so Michael went backstage to retrieve him. Not thinking, he brought his microphone with him, allowing everyone to hear:
Michael: Hey man, it’s started, you gotta come out now.
Luke: (sobbing) I can’t do it, I just can’t face them anymore!
Michael: You have to! Our salaries depend on it!
Luke: I can’t take all the adoration! I can’t be on all the time! Look at my hands – I can’t stop shaking!
Michael: You just need more of that energy drink. I carry it in injectable form.
Luke: (sniffs) OK. (Silence for a few seconds) Whoo-hoo! I’m ready, world – come and get me!
During this exchange, the other two Men looked extremely uncomfortable and kept signaling their handlers to go backstage, all the while trying to distract the VIPs by performing gymnastics and their new stand-up comedy routine. Once all four of The Men were out on stage, they opened up the floor to questions:
Fan 1: Will you marry me?!
Andy: Which one of us?
Fan 1: Any one!
Fan 2: This is a question for Michael: when you sing in C-minor during a song written for the D-major scale, do you find your emotions nearer to the surface, or have you decided to finally change key to explore your range in both the upper and lower registers?
Michael: (blinks) That’s two questions! Next!
One fan shot her hand into the air and jumped in her seat, right next to the handler holding the microphone. She stood and pointed to Sandy.
Experienced VIP: Hi, this question’s for you: I go around collecting VIP packages on concert tours, so what I really want to know, is your name J.J., or is it Ryan?
Poster boards pelted her back into her seat. Barring the wrong names, it was a legitimate question – Andy and Sandy are identical twins, and everyone claims to be able to tell them apart. There is an underground theory that they constantly switch during performances to see if anyone notices.
This special group was then herded to the final line to obtain the much-sought-after photo with The Men. The feeling was akin to waiting in line for the Ferris wheel at an amusement park. One fan left an offering of gold upon the altar positioned next to The Men, which was nice. Another fan tried to sneak off into the bushes with Luke; he was rescued by Security, and the fan was tossed into the arms of the righteously indignant crowd. The number of those on line reached into the lower hundreds, but all felt that ultimate goal was worth the wait.
When it was the experienced VIP’s turn, she was the only one who did not need to be revived by the paramedics before approaching The Men.
Handler: You can shake hands down the line and pose for the photo.
Experienced VIP: Thanks, but the drill’s the same at all these things. (Shaking Michael’s hand) Great job, guys. (Shaking Andy’s hand) Keep up the good work.
Sandy: (Shaking the VIP’s hand) By the way, my name is Sandy.
Experienced VIP: I will never remember that!
Luke: (Shaking the VIP’s hand) Hi.
Experienced VIP: You poor dude, they always stick you at the end.
Photographer: Who would you like to stand next to?
Experienced VIP: As with children, I do not have a favorite.
She crouched in the middle of the group with her head thrown back, tongue out, and hands forming “Y” in American Sign Language as the photo was taken.
Experienced VIP: Thanks, guys! I only need 57 more of these and then I can die!
She ran away laughing, with her arms raised triumphantly in the air.
TO BE CONTINUED