Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Binky Goes to Bensenville (Part 3): The Conclusion of Our Epic Adventure

Embed from Getty Images
Johnny Weir greets fans at the post-Ice Dreams
VIP party, Bensenville, Illinois.

As promised, here's the rest of the story behind The Picture, to enhance that "you are there" feeling:

As I blogged previously, we had purchased three VIP tickets so the kids and I could have a chance to meet Johnny Weir at the post-Ice Dreams VIP party. The party was held in a room upstairs at the rink, where the temperature was a comfortable 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and people were standing pretty much inside each other's shirts in order to fit everyone in. Johnny came a little late because apparently it took a while to scrub off the Bad Romance eye makeup, although I'm sure everyone would have been perfectly happy if he'd left it on and just taken off his clothing instead.

Anyway: As you can see here, here, and here, the moment he arrived, he was completely mobbed. Although I must agree with one of his Facebook fans, who observed that even though it was wall-to-wall people, everyone was really very polite and willing to wait their turn to meet him. Johnny's fans are remarkably well-behaved, especially given the fact that most of us are certifiable and that while we're waiting, we're all indulging in secret fantasies involving Johnny and various food substances and unusual personal appliances.

I was also privileged to have met Johnny's agentress Tara Modlin earlier ("Oh! You're the blogger! I feel like I know you!"), so that at about 90 minutes into the VIP party, she took pity on me and my children, seeing us looking a bit lost, and swooped in to escort us through the crowd to quickly get a picture with Johnny. We introduced ourselves and lined up in a row, and he was kind enough to put his arms around me and my daughter. I resolutely fought my first instinct, which was to swoon dramatically against him (sigh...), and instead just put my arm around his waist (unlike me, he has one, of course. And my goodness, he is just all taut muscle and kind of ... little? He's rather imposing with his skates on, because they make him seem really tall. Without them, we're about the same height. Also, my daughter totally loved the shoes he was wearing, which were, of course, shiny and black and very pointy.)

Tara then took three pictures with my camera, during which the flash simply refused to cooperate.

So she said, "These are kind of dark. Is that OK?"

And I panicked because this is it, you know, just this one moment right now and the photos SUCK, and I said, "Please, could we please try just one more time to get the flash?"

So Tara, bless her heart, sighed just a little and said something to Johnny in Russian (I didn't know she spoke Russian), to which he smiled and nodded briefly. And then we tried one more time.

And that's the fabulous photo I ended up with.

What Tara didn't know is that my daughter speaks Russian--self-taught, like Johnny. She started absorbing everything she could of the language and the culture several years ago, before ever discovering a fellow Russophile named Johnny Weir. Just 16, she's headed to college in the fall and is planning to earn a degree in Russian.

She's pretty sure she heard Tara ask Johnny, as Tara contemplated having to take yet one more picture of us while there's still all these other people waiting to see him and he really is tired beyond words, just simply, "Is that good with you?"

Asking him in Russian, I think, was her way of quietly giving him an out. Because most people wouldn't know what she said, he could answer, "No," or even just shake his head slightly, and Tara would know to move us along without embarrassing us or him.

But Johnny, as overheated and totally, completely exhausted as he
was--having flown in from Russia just hours before the show, having spent the afternoon rehearsing, the evening performing, and now having already stood there for more than an hour for photo after photo and autograph after autograph, refusing to leave even after his bodyguard said, "OK, that's it, Johnny has GOT to take a break, folks, but I promise I'll bring him back in a little bit"--Johnny smiled and nodded at Tara, put his arms around me and my daughter one more time, and smiled again for the camera.

And we got our perfect picture.

And also a glimpse of what it is that makes Johnny Weir such a rare and special soul.

And then it was over.

Others told me that Johnny remained there until after midnight, greeting the endless stream of fans. We went back to our hotel, reviewed our picture on the camera's tiny LCD screen about a million times, finally went to bed, and got up the next morning to drive home on I-88 West.

I wish I had had just one more moment to say something of substance to him. I did have the wherewithal to say thank you twice during the 30 seconds' worth of photos, to which he replied, "My pleasure," both times. But I didn't have the courage to hug him, or even to at least try to make him laugh.

And I pretty much had thought that's how it would go. I thought my chances to say anything real to him would be slim to none, because it would take me too long to get it together. Just too many people all wanting a piece of him, and who could blame them? He was the rock star that the 2,500+ people packed into that arena had come to see.

But it's OK. Because that realization is why my kids and I had driven over to his hotel late the night before, after eating White Castle sliders in the rather horrified Carmela car since that was the closest drive-through still open at that hour, to drop off a small gift with the receptionist, who promised to have it delivered to his room right away so it would be waiting for him when he arrived Thursday.

It was just a fun thing, a Starbucks gift card for him from me and my family, enclosed in a card with, yes, actual glitter on it, in which I could say a little something more than "thank you."

We stopped on the way home Friday at the "DeKalb Oasis," an oxymoron if there ever was one. In keeping with our Wizard of Oz theme, the wind was whipping along at a tornadic 80 miles an hour, as it usually does in that godforsaken spot.

We ate Chinese food at the oasis (even though "Chinese" and "oasis" sound wrong together, like I have geographic ADHD).

And we were kind of quiet.

Then we opened our fortune cookies.

This is what mine said:

Well, not when I'm face-to-face with Johnny Weir.

Which made me laugh. And then I felt a little better as Carmela took us home.

Next up on the blog: My better-lately-than-never manifesto
on the Chelsea Handler interview!

copyright 2010 / Binky and the Misfit Mimes / Lynn V. Ingogly / all rights reserved


Anonymous said...

You do have a way with words, and I agree, they leave you at the most inconvenient times. I have had plenty of those, or what's worse, diarrhea of the mouth, and the wrong ones come out, and it's in the car on the way home that you say "OMG, did I actually just say that to....?"

auntyamyj said...

Ahh Binks, I am sooo very very happy for you! Johnny indeed is a special soul and I am glad that you have had the opportunity to experience that in person. Sigh.....
When I saw what your fortune said, I teared up a little. You certainly do have a way with words, and I aspire to be able to let the pen (or keyboard) flow as easily as you do! Thank you so much for sharing your words and your experiences with the rest of the world!
Love to ya
Amy J.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing all of the wonderful details on your trip to Bensenville. I truly believe that even IF I were so lucky as to meet JW and were to run through numerous scenarios on what I would say and how I would act, I would do EXACTLY what you did. You did it out of respect for him and you are a class act! Thanks for being a great fan. You are like our Ambassador for Johnny Fans. :)

Anonymous said...

All I know is those Panda Express fortune cookie writers really know what they're doing!


Anonymous said...

I learned a lesson today.

Do not drink scalding hot tea while reading Misfit Mimes' blog. Because you'll choke/laugh/cough (simultaneously, mind you) on sentences like these: "I'm sure everyone would have been perfectly happy if he'd left [his makeup] on and just taken off his clothing instead."

I honestly don't know how Johnny does it...practice, performance, and then meet his fans when he's drained, whether his performance made him satisfied or not, etc. It's so admirable.

I really wish he'd drop by some time on your blog (if he hasn't already), because here are many of the things you want to say to him and much of the love you want to relay to him, since doing that in a short meet-and-greet is impossible.

The dark picture is quite pretty too, it looks like the movie poster for an arthouse film ^^


Anonymous said...

Great as always.

Fortunately, I did not have a drink ready to spill over my keyboard. I`ve taken precautions this time, so the keyboard did not get hurt again when I read sentences like "although I'm sure everyone would have been perfectly happy if he'd left it on and just taken off his clothing instead.".
I wished you would have made him laugh since that is one of the characteristics I like most about him. He loves to laugh. But I would have been as tongue-tied as you had been. So, I can understand that. Next time, you have to make him laugh.

I hope he reads your blog every now and then.

Thanks for posting all your adventures so the less fortunates (who are far away from the places where magic happens) can dream a bit.

You know, I´m almost tempted to take up writing also. Your ability to put your readers in your shoe and make them laugh is outstanding as is your way with words. Sometimes fortune cookies are right.

Emily D said...

I felt the very same way the day after meeting Johnny. It took me more than the 30 seconds we had to breathe/stop giggling/form words while in his presence. I stayed until the very end, and had timed it well enough to run into him at the same hotel, just to soak up as much Johnny as possible. You blog is VERY entertaining, I actually remember Tara bringing you in to meet him!
by the way, in your dark Johnny photo, the two girls directly behind him are me and my sister. Thanks for capturing a picture with us and Johnny in the same frame!


Anonymous said...

Binky, I love you and your way with words. Thanks for being so eloquent about the Johnny obssession experience. We don't care if you spoke to him, you speak to us.

Plus, dude, you TOUCHED him!

PS I love Johnny's Balenciaga bags, esp the orange one. Covet!