123Valerie Strikes Again

Unprecedented Self-Indulgence.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Did I Ever Tell You About the Magical Time I Got to Wait On Air Supply?

It's true. The wondergroup that created super 80s hits Lost In Love, All Out of Love, The One That You Love and Making Love Out of Nothing At All--I got to be their waitress.

The singing/songwriting magic behind Air Supply, Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock, the dynamic duo that's almost a palindrome, obviously knew a little something about LOVE. I credit them with helping me develop an understanding of love's complexities and for cultivating a deep appreciation of gay men.

("Mom, is that two men singing together or a man and a woman?" asked a young 123Valerie.

"Two men," said my Mom.

"Oh. Why is the one man telling the other one that he loves him?"

"They're not really singing to each other. They're both sort of singing to the women that they love. Well, that's not true. They are singing to each other. Some men just love other men. But, it's okay because men who love other men are usually really good at decorating or hairstyling or writing love songs.")

A very wise woman, my mother. That is how I have come to place gay men on a crackle-painted pedestal accentuated with silk lilies and white linen, towering far above the rest of us. Because being gay means that they must also possess a talent that makes for a better, sparklier, more beautiful world.

And that just about sums up Air Supply: better, sparklier and more beautiful than you or I.

So, you can imagine my uncontained happiness when I learned that Air Supply was coming to the small Ohio town in which I lived at the time. (Hi Massillon. Please see the movie Go Tigers, and you'll get a full and unsettling picture of all that Massillon is.)

Air Supply was providing a FREE concert! And not only that--the restaurant where I worked was catering the food for their band! OMG!

I eagerly awaited their arrival for months. Then finally, the boys, Russell and Graham, pulled into town on a warm Wednesday afternoon. I remember it like it was two-and-a-half years ago. Because it was. The concert was scheduled for Thursday evening, and they were staying at the hotel across the street from our restaurant.

I was working a Wednesday lunch shift behind the bar, and I will never forget when I saw Russell's lavender rhinestone-studded cowboy boots float across the floor. The bleach-blonde hair. The billowy white shirt opened to reveal the smooth chest of a well-groomed mature man. Oh, if only I were a young gay Adonis! Why did I have to be born a woman?

Graham trailed him, slightly understated in tight black jeans and a polka-dotted shirt with the sleeves rolled up, but also unbuttoned to showcase tan pectorals. His goatee hinted of a rebellious nature.

Graham, Russell--You're the Ones That I Love

Our eyes met, and I felt a connection, but I was shy and quickly looked away. I deflated as they chose to sit in a booth, and some inappreciative server got to bring them their lunches. I was too nervous to say hello, so instead I jumped around the kitchen and shrieked, "Oh my God. Oh my God. Air Supply is out there! And Russell is eating a turkey club! Oh my God! Russell eats turkey clubs! I LOVE turkey and bacon! Eeeeeeeeh!"

They ate, and I freaked, then I got busy and failed to realize they left without my telling them how awesome they were. I was heartbroken. Crushed.

My Very Gay Friend Mark, who worked with me at the time, tried to put it all in perspective. "I don't know why you're so upset about a couple of queens, girl. You have me."

It just wasn't the same, though. Mark did have bleached hair and liked to unbutton his shirts, but there was something mystical about the lavender rhinestone-studded cowboy boots.

I was so dejected that I offered to work a double shift, and rolling into dinner time, I switched over from bartender to waitress. The night was slow-going, typical of a Wednesday, and I had plenty of time to think about what I could have said to my Australian idols.

Then, lo and behold, the doors swung open, and what should I spy? Lavender rhinestone-studded cowboy boots! Thank you, sweet, sweet Jesus! The entire staff, having endured my lamenting all day about my missed opportunity, was happy that I would finally SHUT UP ALREADY.

Russell and Graham sat down in the smoking section (For shame, boys. For shame. To think of what it does to your angelic voices). I pulled myself together, and walked over. (Okay, 123Valerie. Keep it cool. Calm. Collected. You're Every Woman in the World to them. BE COOL!)

"Hi Gentlemen. Very nice to see you again. We're so glad you're here. I've been waiting for months!"

Russell: "Oh, that's very nice of you, thanks. May I have a Pepsi?"

123Valerie: "Of course. And for you Graham?"

Graham: "I'll have a diet, with a lemon, please."

123Valerie: "Certainly."

I literally danced over to the pop machine. I was getting drinks for Air Supply!

Russell ordered the Cajun chicken pasta and a salad with bleu cheese. Graham ordered a Mediterranean chicken dish and a salad with balsamic vinaigrette. They each had two sodas.

I offered desert, and they politely refused. Then, I let it all fly.

"So, I know you guys get this a lot, but I just LOVE your music. I grew up listening to it, and I still listen to it all of the time. You're timeless, and I know that if I ever have kids, they're going to grow up listening to your music. Thank you for sharing your talent with the world. I'm sorry. I know you must be tired of blubbering fans, but I'm just so excited!"

"Well, thanks, love. What's your name?" Russell asked.

"123Valerie," I squeaked.

"You're coming to the show tomorrow then?"

"Of course! I've been planning for months.

"Well, stop by afterward and we'll sign your albums." He actually said "albums." How precious is that?

Aside from providing sincere and beautiful music and patiently listening to me blather on, Graham and Russel are very generous tippers. We're talking 40%. My love for them, if possible, had grown even more.

The show was magnificent--there were at least four costume changes and at one point, Graham asked us to visualize floating on a magic carpet to a World of Love. And I totally did. I floated to that special place. I got a bit distracted when someone spilled beer on me, but it was a nice moment, none the less.

Afterward, I stood in line for the meet and greet and tried not to pee myself. I had my Air Supply's Greatest Hits CD and Sharpie ready to go.

I finally moved to the front of the line and Russell stood up, hugged me and and gushed, "Oh! It's the best waitress in the world! Hi 123Valerie. How did you like the show?"

Everything I mumbled from there on was slightly uninteligble and not worth noting, so suffice to say that I walked away with an autograph that read, "My love to you always, Russell," and Graham signed his name under a great big heart. I felt more than a little Lost in Love.

This signed piece of history was one of my most prized possessions until I foolishly lent it to a guy named Tom Peppard because he did not believe that I possessed such a treasure. He never returned it. Tom Peppard, if you're reading this: I'm All Out of Love for you, and I want my autographed Air Supply CD back.

Tell me your best celebrity meeting story in the Comments section. I know it'll be hard to top my Air Supply experience, but give it a try.


  • At 2:02 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

    You LENT out your autographed Air Supply CD? What is the matter with you woman?

  • At 6:13 PM , Blogger 123Valerie said...

    Dumb. D-U-M-B. But, Air Supply still loves me even in my infinite dumbness.


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