After Nashville, I decided to take a side trip to Chicago with my friends Shawn and Kristy who were going to be attending the Chicago show on July 5th. The plan was to stay at the hotel in Chicago at which U2 is notoriously known to stay when they are in town. It’s quite pricey, to say the least, but we were going to split a room three ways. Count in the extra flights I paid for to get to Chicago from Nashville and then back to Cleveland in the end, and well, let’s just say it was a lengthy diversion for me based purely on a hunch.
I admit that I want to meet the band. Which at the same time as I desire it, I realize it is a ridiculous fantasy. But I guess a part of me feels propelled on this mission to let them–especially Bono, the lyricist whose words have inspired me in moments of joy and saved me in moments of sorrow–know just how much their music has meant to me. Really, that’s all I want. I didn’t even bring anything for the band to autograph. Maybe I could say something meaningful, shake a few hands, and then my life will be complete. I need nothing else. No, not really.
A lot of people I know have had brief encounters with the band. I admire them for their tenacity to succeed on this mission. Some of them encountered the band without trying too hard–catching them as they went into or out of some venue where everyone knew they’d be. The hard-core fans I’ve met in GA beam with stories of encounters with the band. They happily relate them all and I listen aptly. It seems more possible than I would have thought. For a band with the popularity of U2, they seem a little more accessible than most celebrities of equal fame. At least as far as The Edge and Bono go. Adam Clayton’s a little harder to meet and Larry Mullen even harder still.
I don’t delude myself that an encounter the band would mean anything more to them than another day on the job. But it would mean a lot to me. And the idea of trying seemed like an adventure. It was probably the most risky, spontaneous thing I’d ever done (except that it was hardly spontaneous as we’d planned this diversion for about a month). I felt a bit sheepish. A bit like a stalker. But in the end, I thought, “What the hell.” Because this, for me, is the summer of “what the hell.” Maybe I should have been doing this in the years immediately after my husband’s death. But lately, I’ve just started throwing caution to the wind and just doing a bunch of things I’d never thought I’d do just because I can. Why the hell not, right? For half the summer, I couldn’t get on my bike due to my back… What else did I have to do with my time?
It didn’t pan out, though. It appears that this time, our boys didn’t want to be found. We hung around the hotel–trying to look casual as we spent hours sitting in the lobby–but there was no sign of U2 or U2’s security personnel. We weren’t the only ones snooping around–we encountered another woman who was also staying in the hotel for the same reason. And on July 4th, we spotted a few other people lingering in one of the two lobby spaces, some of which were a lot less conspicuous than us with their open posters and other U2 merchandise in plain sight. (In contrast, the three of us took care to not have anything remotely U2-related on us.)
I did learn something about myself, though. Like the fact that it’s very likely I need my friends with me in order to actually ever meet the band. Because I’m pretty sure if I’d been sitting alone in that lobby, and Bono himself walked past, I’d be too afraid of being the freaky fan that I am, that I wouldn’t approach him. Case in point, in Nashville, I was walking behind the stadium on my way back from the hotel, when I saw Dallas Shoo standing on the street corner fiddling around with his cell phone. None of the people milling about seemed to know who he was. I wanted to walk up to him and tell him I’d lost the pick he gave me in Michigan–just to see if I could get another one in sympathy. That at least would have started a conversation. Maybe I could have gotten someone to take our picture. But did I walk up to him?
I didn’t want to “bother” him. I didn’t want to be a pain in the butt.
And then, I thought, all by myself I might have to try to come up with a conversation. Or keep one going. And that was just awkward. Had I been with friends, I could have just said my bit about the pick, maybe added a few extra comments, and let everyone do the rest.
I can’t believe I’m so bashful.
Actually, yes, I can. Conversations with strangers–any stranger–is extremely difficult and awkward for me. I always feel like a dork. And I always worry that people are just talking to me to be nice, that they’re looking for a hurried way out of it. So forget celebrities or even minor celebrities. It ain’t happening!
So I think if I was by myself in the lobby, and Bono happened to walk by, I’d just find myself glued to my seat while both halves of my brain argued with itself to get up and talk to one of my biggest idols. Meanwhile, Bono have passed and my moment would be gone. I think that’s why I always end up paired with bolder friends. I can let people do the bushwhacking while I slide effortlessly down the path they’ve created. When I put it that way, I realize what a leech I can be!
I left Chicago empty-handed. Or, I guess I should say, still having in my possession the envelope that contained a copy of my sermon which I’d planned to give Bono. I don’t regret the trip, though… it was worth a shot… and it was adventure imagining what might happen.
I also learned how crazy posh the other half lives. We stayed in a room at the lowest price range but it was still crazy comfortable. A full bathroom that contained both a bathtub and a shower. The shower had two shower heads and could comfortably hold 5-10 people. Seriously. Free toiletries–queue tips, razors, lotions, toothpaste–in addition to high end soap and hair products. Windows in the room that open (I guess they figure rich people don’t have the overwhelming urge to jump to their deaths?). Beds that didn’t spring but were made of some cushy material that conforms to your body. A plethora of puffy pillows on both beds. A phone next to the toilet so that you can continue all your important business transactions…
The real kicker, though, is what served as the front desk. It was like a work station on the starship Enterprise from the new Star Trek movie–two skinny daises, illuminated underneath so that their tops appeared to glow. Suited personnel–each with an earphone in their ear–behind each, quietly muttering into phones they answered (which magically made no noise when they rang). It was very bizarre. I guess actual working desks are offensive to the upper class. Oh, and, no sitting for these front desk workers.
Even though I never saw hide nor hair of Bono and the boys, I was given ample time to observe the patrons of this hotel from position on the couch (yes, couch) in the lobby. I found that I could not help but wonder as individuals or groups walked by just how each person came into the money that allows them to stay at a hotel like this. It was just like how when I was in Salt Lake City, I just couldn’t help but wonder who was Mormon and who wasn’t. I’m fascinated by worlds of which I’m not–nor can never be, nor want to be (in the case of the Mormons)–a part. Diversity fascinates me. I wish I could have rudely interviewed them all! I’m sure there were stories there to be told.
I’m not someone who is envious of money. Maybe fame and notoriety. I’d love it if I was a writer and a few people were inspired by my writing (the way U2 music inspires me). But I’ve never longed to be rich. Comfortable is enough. Every once in a while, though, it’s nice to imagine what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. And staying in that hotel allowed me to do that for two days.
And, if anything, it was research for my rock star story. Already, I know how to modify at least one section of said story, since I’ve now seen the hotel for the extremely wealthy. Given the appearance of our humble room, I can only imagine what the suites–which I’m sure U2 stays in–are like. I wonder if I can get someone to give me a tour of one someday. Anyone know anybody who works for an upper-end hotel?
Well, it was fun. And the adventure is not quite over yet… But soon it will be. And my life will go back to normal. (If one considers my adventures in cycling–which I’m about ready to start again–ordinary.)