Tuesday, March 31, 2009

As Good As It Gets

I don't know what I find more satisfying: doing something totally new for the first time, or getting a do-over of something that went wrong the first time.

I think either way, I'm never really satisfied.

the crowdStevie Nicks made a rare instore appearance tonight at Barnes & Noble Union Square in support of her new live CD and DVD recorded as part of the PBS series Soundstage. I expected the place to be full of drag queens (given my past experience at Night of a Thousand Stevies) but instead, it was full of the same bleach-blonde aging Long Island ladies I usually see at her Jones Beach shows. You might expect goth girls with drapey dresses and scarves, but the uniform is more tight size 12 jeans, black t-shirts, feathered hair, and bedazzled leather purses.

I knew I had to get there early, but as usual I was running late, so I showed up only two hours before the start instead of my planned three. When I got there, I realized people must have started arriving since the store's morning opening, or at least since noon. There were at least a thousand fans in front of me.

So I waited four hours at B&N to meet Stevie tonight (reading Gene Wilder's My French Whore in its entirety), but in truth, I'd been waiting over 10 years. I first spotted Stevie in person when I was an assistant at Atlantic Records, running an errand for my boss which brought me to the elevator bank just as the doors were closing to take Stevie upstairs. She must've been in the office promoting her new Enchanted box set (of which then-intern Michael Goldberg managed to get me an autographed copy, as well as a signed poster). I forget what was so important that I couldn't run up the stairs to follow her immediately, but I remember needing to drop something off on another floor first. By the time I made it to the 28th floor to track her down, she was nowhere to be found (or behind a closed door that a lowly classical assistant could not open).

When I finally got up to the stage tonight at B&N to get my live CD signed (which I had to buy at B&N tonight despite having preordered the CD/DVD combo deluxe edition direct from Warner), I couldn't believe my eyes. I was standing in front of Stevie Nicks. I couldn't get the lithograph I brought signed (they were SO strict!), but it didn't matter. I looked down at her smiling face - which took a break to entertain the waiting audience with a goofy smile and a little wave - and saw kindness and sincerity and love and gratitude and just pure joy. And there was peace. I hope I am so happy when I am 60.

I told her my Atlantic Records story and she said that the box set has been her favorite thing released so far in her career. And then I looked at her longingly, like a high school boy that doesn't know how to end a date.

And then it was over.

When some of the other women got off the stage after getting their autographs, they threw their arms up in the air like they just won a game of bingo, and hooted out a big "Woo!" I held a smile on my face as plastic as the green bag I was holding until I reached the down escalator. And then I burst into tears.

It's hard to wait so long for something and have it be over. And it's so hard to meet someone whose work you've loved for so long. In my year-long search for meaningful connections, such a brief encounter in which I don't even get to tell Stevie Nicks my name is just heartbreaking.

Maybe I'll have another chance for a do-over. Maybe I'll continue my streak consulting for famous musical artists (like my current client Ziggy Marley) and I'll one day get to work directly with her. But how many second chances do you get before you're able to accept the fact that this is as good as it's ever going to get?