I was working for the library as a page and volunteering at Care Bearers when we learned that “Weird Al” Yankovic was giving a free concert that fall at the local fair. FREE! My sister, J and I were so excited we could hardly breathe! He had just released his album titled “Bad Hair Day.” My brother, B, even had a copy! My favorite song from the album was “Gump,” mainly because of the part where he sings, “Run, run! Now, Forrest, Run! (clank) Stop.” I thought that part was hilarious! I was a die hard fan of “Weird Al.” I even knew all the lyrics from his song, “Another One Rides the Bus.” So, if “Weird Al” was going to be in our home town and the concert wouldn’t cost us anything, of course I would go! J felt the same way.
Of course, that meant that we had to pay to visit the fair, but we were okay with that. J had to convince my mother that it was vital for us to be at that concert in order to get her money. All I had to do was dip into my savings account.
I don’t know why, but I brought along my book of poetry to the concert. This was poetry I had written myself in a journal type book, usually during church. I carried it with me everywhere, just on the off chance that I was inspired somewhere.
We arrived very early and came by bus because the fair parking lot was always packed, so asking my parents to bring us was definitely out of the question. When we finally arrived at the admission gate, we each paid our money (I’m not sure how much. $12 each, maybe?) and they put a paper wrist band on each of our wrists to show that we had paid, so, if we left the fairgrounds for whatever reason, we could get back in again without paying.
It didn’t take us long to find the place where “Weird Al” would be giving his free concert. However, since the concert wasn’t until much later, we saw no sense in waiting there. We roamed the fair for a while and looked at the livestock and the produce, all the while keeping track of my watch (J didn’t have one, yet) so that we wouldn’t be late. J was anxious to get there early, though, so that we could be the first in line and get good seats. So, when our legs started to get tired, we went back to the place where the concert was supposed to be. There was a ticket booth and a chain-link fence around the area, but it was loose in one spot and, considering the concert was supposed to be free, we thought that it would be okay for us to just go in and find our seats.
We soon discovered that the concert wasn’t meant to be completely free. There was a place all roped off for concert goers who had paid and it was slap up against the stage. The free seats were wooden benches placed far back from the stage. We were briefly tempted to find our seats in the paid section, but we decided that, given the fact that we would want to discuss the concert with our parents, later, they probably wouldn’t like to hear that we had taken paid seats for nothing. My parents have VIEWS about stealing. Not just views but VIEWS. So we picked a pair of seats on the wooden benches.
We sat in our seats for a while, until we got bored. Then J suggested we could go and explore the concert area and maybe we would get a peek at “Weird Al.” I was nervous about that, but it didn’t take long for J to convince me.
There was an opening in the fence that separated the stage area from the seating area. It had a rope on it that seemed to suggest we might find “Weird Al” beyond it. We stood outside it for a while and just stared, hoping he might come wandering past and we would see him without having to take a chance at getting lost or, worse, thrown out of the concert. I’ve never felt so excited! I was sure I would faint or something if “Weird Al” turned up beyond the fence. I’m not sure if it was even 5 minutes before J suggested that we should go beyond the rope barrier and look for him. Reluctantly, I agreed and we unclipped the barrier and walked past it.
We hadn’t gone ten feet when a trio of roadies found us. We were informed that we couldn’t see “Weird Al,” yet because he was busy getting ready for the concert. However, they gave us two backstage passes on lanyards (no, I don’t have mine any more. I lost it) and told us to return to the rope barrier after the concert was over and someone would take us to meet “Weird Al” when he wasn’t busy.
We were escorted back to the seating area and returned to the seats we’d chosen. There we watched impatiently as all the other concert-goers entered the concert area and found seats. We gazed in envy at the people who went past the rope into the paid seats and we fondled our backstage passes, telling each other that we just had to wait a little longer and soon the concert would start.
Before long, the concert DID start. J and I danced around near our seats as Al sang many of our favorite songs, some older and some newer. It was hard to see the stage because we were so far back, but we could hear just fine and we remembered our backstage passes and the roadies’ promise that we would meet Al in person after the concert was over, so we stayed put and concentrated on having the time of our lives!
When Al left finally left the stage, we started to get excited. We weren’t the only ones who thought the concert was over, either, because some of the audience got up and left. Then “Weird Al” came back on stage for an encore, several of our old favorites. Then he left and we thought that was the end for sure. Even more audience got up and left. Then he came out AGAIN for ANOTHER encore! As happy as we were to be at that concert, our first one ever, we were beginning to feel impatient again. When would the concert finally be over so that we could go and meet “Weird Al?” J even supposed that we might visit the merch table and buy something. That is until I reminded her that we’d only brought enough money to get into the fair and not to buy anything.
At last, “Weird Al” thanked everyone for coming and people began filing out of the seating area in crowds rather than dribbles. We waited until we were less likely to be trampled, then made our way to the rope barrier where a large group of people with backstage passes just like ours were milling around waiting just as impatiently as we were. When the seating area was mostly empty, a roadie or someone came and let us in, telling us to follow him. We were led to an area with a small half tent with about a twenty foot square yard that was surrounded by a white picket fence, complete with a gate. The roadie or whoever it was opened the gate for us and we all filed inside to wait for Al to join us.
While we waited, I suddenly realized I was more nervous than I’d ever been in my life because I was talking a blue streak to nobody in particular. J was too busy being excited about finally meeting “Weird Al” to want to listen to me babble. Somewhere in there, I remember saying something like, “I hope he doesn’t ask me what I do for a living.” Not long after I said that, an official representative came and had us all line up and then… THEN…
“WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC WALKED IN!
He walked right down the line and sat down in a chair that had been placed there for him. Someone handed him a Sharpie marker and he began signing autographs. It was then that I realized I hadn’t brought anything for Al to sign. When I pointed this out to J, she suggested asking him to sign my poetry book. It was just about then that the person in front of me left, having gotten his autograph, and I found myself face-to-face with the man himself.
I admit it. I froze. I had never imagined myself ever coming into contact with anyone as famous as “Weird Al” Yankovic before, even when the roadie gave us the backstage passes.
“Hello,” he said, smiling at me like any normal person would upon meeting someone new.
“Uh,” I replied intelligently.
“Are you okay?” he asked, looking concerned.
J nudged me in the back and I handed over my poetry book, opening it to the inside back cover.
Smiling again, Al quickly signed it.
Then someone in the back of the line yelled, “Ask her what she does for a living!”
Oh, no! I suddenly felt very warm.
“Weird Al” looked me square in the eye and, with a completely straight face, asked, “So, what do you do for a living?”
I blushed furiously and stammered out, “I’m a librarian.”
I don’t really remember his reaction, but I remember that he handed me back my newly signed poetry book and that I stepped aside to wait for J, who was done comparitively quickly.
Since we were finished, we left the fenced in area and found our way back to the rope barrier, which had been left open so that people like us could get out easily. Having gotten what we came for, J and I headed for the fair exit and the bus home.
I still have that poetry book somewhere and it still bears “Weird Al’s” signature inside the back cover.
Question time: Did you ever get to meet anyone considered to be famous? Did you manage to keep your cool or did you have a complete nerdgasm like I did? Are you a fan of “Weird Al”? Talk to me. I want to read YOUR story!
Large gratitude to Lizzi, the Considerer, for her request that I tell this story. I hope you got what you asked for, Lizzi.
Shameless Plug: “Weird Al” has a new album out called Mandatory Fun. If you’re an Al-oholic and you didn’t know… well, now you do.