American Idol reject
Yes, to the list of titles I hold in my life: woman, wife, dancer, sister, daughter, friend, rider, engineer, student . . . I can now add "American Idol reject".
I went down to try out a couple of weeks ago. Allow me to share just a little bit of the saga . . .
Monday morning, August 16, I turned on the news before work to see that there are already 100 people in line for American Idol auditions. That irritated me, because the website clearly states that you aren't permitted to line up before 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, and it was, at the time, about 22 hours earlier than that. Whatever. By 10:00 Monday night, there were 300 people there. I couldn't have taken Monday off of work (I was already planning on taking Tuesday & Wednesday off) and I'm no longer 16: the prospect of spending one night camped out for this audition was unpleasant enough. The idea of doing 2 was fairly ridiculous. So, I waited.
4:30 Tuesday morning I get up, shower, finish packing my stuff. Dan was wonderful enough to get up to drive me down to the Washington Convention Center. So, we loaded all of my stuff into the Miata (no small feat), and headed downtown. We arrived almost exactly at 6:00, and I got in line. By this time, the line was just about halfway around the block. After being in line about 20 minutes, we started to move. We would move 3-4 feet at a time, and then pause for a bit. It really wasn't too bad, except that I had a ton of stuff with me (change of clothes for the audition, pajamas, makeup, other assorted toiletries, granola bars, a chair, makeup mirror, a sleeping bag and 16 bottles of water). This went on for about 2 hours, fairly uneventfully. I chatted a little bit with the people around me in line. I assumed that these people were going to be my neighbors for the next 24 - 36 hours, so I thought we should be friendly with each other. As we walked through the line, people wearing Fox network shirts walked up & down the line handing out freebies. The one for "Swan 2" was actually a little compact mirror, which seemed like it might be useful. They also gave out paper fans, for later, if we got hot.
When we got to the front of the convention center, we went in, and all of our stuff got searched. I was told I couldn't bring my chair in -- only chairs that could be put into those narrow little bags that can be slung over your shoulder could go in. I was told that if I wasn't back in 45 minutes, it was going to go to Good Will. The guard laughed at my now 15 bottles of water.
We proceeded on to a table where we had to provide our 2 forms of identification. I was given a wristband with a number on it: 35836. (Actually, I was given 35835, but that one ripped, so I got a second one.) So, I felt special: I had a wristband. Of course, I had no idea what this meant, so I started asking people in "American Idol" t-shirts with the badges on lanyards. Some of these people were truly clueless. I mean, they obviously worked for American Idol in some form, but couldn't tell me where to go next or what my wristband meant.
I finally found someone who told me that it meant I was guaranteed an audition as long as I was back in the building by 4:00 a.m. the next day. Wow! So, I could go home? This made me nervous, though -- how would this effect my place in the audition line? Was this person really sure of what they were telling me, or would I come back the next morning just to find that I had gotten bad information from another ignorant person? So, I kept asking people, just to be sure. While waiting to find someone with the answer, I called Dan to tell him that I *might* be able to come home, and would he be willing to come get me? He said he would, but only after traffic died down (it was now nearly 9:00 on a Tuesday morning, and he'd be in traffic with everyone else that needs to go into DC at 9:00 on a Tuesday morning). I kept asking, and finally got 2 separate people to tell me that the wristband meant I was one of the lucky 10,000 people who would get to see a judge, and that I had to be back in the building by 5:00 (one woman told me she'd been told to tell everyone 4:00, just to be safe, which seemed like a good idea to me) because auditions started at 6:00 sharp. I was told by a couple of folks that spending the night on the concrete floor of the Convention Center *might* get me a better place in line, but that the line was formed at 4:00 a.m., so as long as I was in the building by then, I really had a pretty good shot at a good place in line. Since I don't think it sounds like a good time to spend the night in a sleeping bag on a concrete floor in a room full of 16 year old strangers and their parents, I decided to go home. I got one of the helpful American Idol folks to help me retrieve my chair from security, and I left the building. I felt pretty foolish at all of the accoutrements I had brought with me for my 2 hour wait in line, but I guess it's better to be safe than sorry.
I called Dan & asked him to come get me when traffic died down. He said he would & I parked myself outside. I had plenty of provisions: granola bars, water, a book & my recently retrieved chair. Since I had originally been planning an overnight stay, I was well suited to wait an hour for Dan. I called my mom to explain what had happened, and sat & read, marveling at the number of future American Idol contestants who were catching a smoke break.
I called Dan back & told him to meet me around the corner, since people were still arriving all the time to get in line, and it was fairly chaotic. I lugged all of my stuff around the corner and sat to wait. I got lots of "helpful" comments from passersby that I was waiting in the wrong place, and questions about why I was sitting where I was. It was getting kind of irritating, and then a family stopped to ask me a question. It turned out that the older daughter was trying out for American Idol and had brought her mother as her guest (each contestant is allowed to bring one person inside with them -- this person also gets a wristband which means you can't *switch* guests later, which I think a lot people hadn't counted on). Her younger sister also wanted to wait with her, but she wasn't allowed another guest. Since I looked like I was by myself, they asked me if I would be willing to take the sister in as my guest & get her a wristband. I didn't see any harm in this, so I said ok. They helped me carry my stuff back to the front of the building & I went inside with the sister. Laquisha (which I'm sure I've misspelled): if your sister wins American Idol, she has to thank me when she wins her first Grammy. I went back around the corner to wait for Dan, feeling like I had done a good deed.
Dan came to pick me up. We stuffed all of my belongings BACK into the Miata (again, not easy) and went home. I laid down to take a nap, because I'd gotten up at 4:30, which is not normal for me. Then I got up, worked a few hours (had my laptop at home), took a shower, went to dance class, went home & promptly went to bed. I was in bed by 11:00, which is also not normal for me.
It was a good thing, though, because at 2:00 my alarm clock went off. Ugh. I think only my persistent fear that I would sleep through my audition motivated me to get out of bed and into the shower. Thanks to dance competitions, I am quite accustomed to getting up at an unreasonable hour and proceeding to make myself look garishly made up for the hour in the morning that it is. I ate breakfast, got my makeup on, got dressed, put on my cute 4" platform sandals and clipped my hair up. I figured I'd be waiting for several hours at the Convention Center, so there was no reason to worry about having my hair done yet. Dan made me some tea with honey & lemon, and we set off about 3:40 a.m..
It was much easier to pack the car, because I hadn't packed all of my overnight stuff. I brought a much smaller backpack, with granola bars, makeup, hair stuff, books, a sweatshirt and 8 bottles of water. I skipped the chair because I figured the rules at the Convention Center hadn't changed overnight, and otherwise, I wanted to travel light, to correct the mistake of being overprepared and overburdened that I had made on Tuesday.
I arrived around 4:15 on Wednesday morning. I went in, had my bag searched, and looked for someone who could tell me where to go. I was told that everyone was upstairs, so I went that way. The rooms upstairs was an amazing sight: it was a huge warehouse kind of room. Concrete floors, white walls, unforgiving overhead lighting. The room was FULL of people. There were about 16,000 people in this room. People everywhere. All kinds of people. All ages, all races, all levels of disarray. People in pajamas, people with curlers in their hair, people singing, people still stretched out on sleeping bags on the floor and lots of people in line for the bathroom.
Other than the lines for the bathroom, I couldn't really make heads or tails of what was going on. There was definitely an order of sorts to the room . . . the array of sleeping bags & people was ordered into rows about 12 - 15 feet wide that stretched the width of the room, from one end of this cavernous room to the other, with an aisle going down the length of the room in the middle. The rows were divided with metal barricades, and the ends of the rows were tied off with yellow caution tape. My heart sank when I realized this WAS the line -- that the line didn't form at 4:00 a.m. -- rather, the people who had spent the night were, in fact, in line already. Upon further reflection, though, I decided it was ok. I heard that the lights had been on all night, and really, no one had slept. I would have made the choice to go home and sleep in my own bed, and most importantly, take a shower, even if I had understood that it meant giving up my place in line.
So, I figured, the most prudent thing to do would be to get myself into line as quickly as possible, so as to not lose any more ground. So, I started walking around the room. I was hopeful that I would find someone who was putting people in line, telling them where to go. I walked around this huge concrete room. When I got to the far end, I still couldn't tell what was going on -- I was so confused! Surely one end of the room had the front of the line, and the other had the back? I continued walking around to the end of the room I had originally entered, and still couldn't tell what was going on (except that there were a lot of people in line for the bathroom!). I finally found someone with the American Idol badge on, and asked him.
He informed me that this room was full. There was another room, downstairs, where I had to go to get in line. This was so discouraging. Not only were 8,000 people in front of me in line (half the people upstairs were, presumably, guests) but I had just wasted about 15 minutes of time, and of line position, walking around this humongous concrete warehouse. So, I went downstairs. As I made my way downstairs, I felt a glimmer of hope that maybe the people upstairs *weren't* really in line yet. Maybe the *whole* line formed downstairs, and those people were just slow getting started at 4:00 a.m. Or maybe the second room wouldn't be so bleak and unpleasant as the room I was just in? If I had to be 8,000th in line, maybe I'd get to wait on carpet?
Oh, no. No way. The room downstairs was even larger. It was the basement of the Convention Center. This room took up an entire city block and had nothing in it except concrete floor and support columns for the 3 levels over us. I've never been in something like that -- it was like an airplane hangar, or the shuttle/rocket buildings at NASA in Florida. Just huge. As I got off of the escalator into this room, I began to follow a wide walkway that was taped off with yellow caution tape. About halfway across this block-sized room, I came upon someone with the American Idol badge. I asked him to make sure I was going the right way -- I was. There were a lot of people walking with me, but many of them jumped out of line to use the bathroom -- these were just the enterprising individuals who realized that the lines were shorter in the basement. By the time I got to my destination, I was actually walking alone. There were about 2,000 people in line ahead of me when I got there (so, about 1,000 contestants). This put me approximately 9,000th in the audition line. The setup was the same as upstairs: metal barricades and yellow caution tape. But, fewer sleeping bags & people with curlers: these people had all arrived this morning, so it was less like a campout. I was instructed to take my place in my row by an American Idol badged person. She told me to squish myself in, and not to leave too much space, or they'd put someone else in it. We each had a space about 2' on a side to call our own. That was it. The few people who did have sleeping bags were told they could only fold them in half -- they weren't allowed any more space than that.
So, we crowded in. It was really uncomfortable. Concrete floor, nothing to sit on, nothing to lean on, no one to talk to. Of course, it didn't take long for us to start chatting with each other. Small talk, just pleasantries. It also didn't take long for us to realize we were going to be here a long time, and to just sit on the floor. I chatted lightly with the people closest to me, but didn't really connect with anyone. The girl next to me was there with her father, who reminded me of my father, which was a bit of a comfort. The girl behind me went to sleep & kept kicking my (now empty) mug of tea over. The guys in front of me were flirting with the girl in front of them. Someone near me smelled like feet. Someone smelled like body odor. Someone else kept farting. It was truly unpleasant. It was physically, psychologically and socially uncomfortable. Most everyone went to sleep. I wished I had brought a sleeping bag, a pillow, or even a change of clothes. In the beginning I sat on my sweatshirt because I wanted to keep my pants clean, but eventually I got cold (big underground warehouse room with a/c blasting) and gave up my sweatshirt as a seat for something to keep me warm.
Around 6:00, someone announced that auditions were starting at 8:00. They said we should sit tight, because we could expect to not be seen until at least 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. Ugh. 9 more hours of sitting on concrete? Fantastic.
There was no kind of walkway out of the rows, so when people had to get up to use the bathroom, they had to pick their way through, over & around the other people in line. For the first few hours, people were very polite: "excuse me", "I'm sorry", etc. And people would make room for the others that were picking their way through. After the first 2-3 hours, that stopped. We did our best to ignore each other without actually stepping on or kicking anyone.
When you did have to get up, to use the bathroom, to stretch your legs, to get something to eat, you also had to leave your belongings, or risk losing your place in line. Holes that were left were quickly filled by others around it. So, you had to rely on the kindness of those sitting around you to hold your place in line and take care of your items. The father near me was the one I always asked to watch my things and hold my place, and it seemed to work out ok. One bright spot in the day was that after the craziness of the morning, the bathroom lines were a very reasonable length. There were always people singing in the bathrooms, and getting to a mirror was impossible because of all the people doing their hair & makeup in front of them.
A large group of people assembled off to one side to practice their singing at top volume. This provided some entertainment.
People would wander upstairs to see if they could learn anything about what was going on up there. Someone heard a rumor that they were trying to see 30 people every 5 minutes (which made me estimate my audition time at closer to 7:00, not 3:00 -- yikes). We heard that very few people were getting called back. The rumor was that they were calling back about 200 people -- 100 very good people and 100 very bad people. That gave us a 1-2% chance of getting called back. I have no idea how accurate those numbers were, but it presented a fairly bleak picture.
By chatting with people around me, I heard some details of how the process worked (some of this I knew, some I didn't). The first audition (Wednesday) was in front of a producer. Each audition only lasted 20 - 30 seconds. There were rumors that people were being turned away for being "too good" (unlikely). There were stories that some people were being asked to sing "America the Beautiful" so those who didn't know the words scrambled to learn them. There were rumors that everyone should be prepared to sing 2 songs, not just one. There was a lot of conjecture, and remarkably little information.
I passed most of the time by reading. I was reading, "Touching the Void", which is a true account of two mountain climbers and their struggle for survival in the Andes. It was very inspirational and gave me lots of appreciation for the fact that what I was enduring could have been much worse. Ok, worse.
By about 10:30, I hurt. My back hurt. My butt hurt. I was cold. I was stiff. My neck hurt. I was bored. I got up to walk around a few times, but then my feet hurt. It was just truly miserable. It was painful & awful, with no end in sight. Sigh.
At lunchtime, I got a sandwich, and surprisingly, wasn't gouged by the vendor ($4 for a turkey wrap, which seemed ok to me). Beverages were considerably more expensive, but me & my 8 bottles of water had no worries about that.
Lunch perked me up a bit, and it was quickly approaching 1:00, which I had decided would be the time at which I would start to touch up my makeup, fix my hair, etc., in case the auditions really were close to 3:00.
At just about 12:30, an American Idol staff person came downstairs and told us to all get up. There was enough room cleared away upstairs that we were being moved upstairs! Yay! I was so excited. 8+ hours of sitting on concrete (my own personal version of hell, I had decided) was coming to an end.
Of course, everyone else was excited, too. The quiet, resigned calm was immediately replaced with chaos. People scrambled to finish lunches, run to the bathroom, wake up their friends, clean up their things. People started to cut in line. The folks who were "policing" the area saw this, though, and sent the cutters to the back of the line, which caused happiness in everyone except those now 10,000th in line.
We slowly made our way across the room, up one set of escalators, down a hallway and up another set of escalators. Moving 6,000 people through this was quite a feat, because we would get stuffed into hallways due to restrictions in the capacity of the escalators, etc. Generally, people were kinder & more patient that I expected. There were, of course, a few people who were "looking for their friends" and moved up ahead in line. Whether their search was legitimate or not was truly beyond me at that point. Frankly, after waiting for 9,000 people to audition in front of me, it didn't much matter to me whether there were 9,000 or 9,003.
Along this trek to the upstairs room, I joined up with some folks. The contestant in the group was a 16 year old kid named Kyle. He was there with his mother and a family friend. As each contestant was only permitted one guest to bring with them, they were worried that they would get caught having too many guests and one would get kicked out. Since they had noticed I was by myself, they asked if one of them could 'adopt' me and be my guest. I said sure. The women were Mary (mother) and Nancy (friend). They were very nice and offered to help me carry my things on the upstairs trek.
I was so excited to get upstairs! The big room was nearly half-empty by this time, and I thought this was a fantastic sign. Surely, it wouldn't be too much longer until we got to audition! I started doing my hair and fixing my makeup. Of course, this was difficult, because unlike downstairs, where we were sitting still, the upstairs portion of the line was pretty much in constant motion. As it turned out, a large group of people left the line at one time -- about 70 or so. They would take a group like this back every 10-15 minutes or so. Once you got to the front of the line, you would move up & then wait for another 10-15 minutes. But, at the back of the line, thousands of people back, you just moved a little bit, a foot or two, sometimes three, every few minutes. I figured I had about 2 more hours to wait.
I thought that the 8 hours I had spent downstairs was torture. I had no idea what I was in for. If sitting on a concrete floor in a cramped space was torture, upstairs was hell. Instead of sitting, we were standing. We would move almost constantly, so you hardly had a chance to put your things down. People were so excited (at first) about being upstairs that they were less patient and would cut in line. You couldn't sit down, even when the line stopped for a few minutes, because the floor was so dirty.
This was the room where everyone had spent the night the night before. They had, apparently, just left their garbage wherever it was. There was food on the floor. Spilled drinks. Tissues. Paper. Etc, etc, etc. At one point there was actually a half-eaten tray of *sushi* on the floor. It was gross and disgusting.
Every time I tried to estimate how much more time I had to wait, I guessed 2 hours. I guessed that at 1:00, at 2:30, at 4:00, at 6:00, and so on. I totally lost track of time. I was in a lot of pain. My feet hurt. My back hurt. My feet hurt REALLY bad. I was wearing my cute 4" platform shoes. I had no shoes to change into.
The friends I had made along the way helped to pass the time a bit. In addition to Mary, Nancy & Kyle, we met up with others: Eliana and Jen (both from New York, both auditioning, Eliana is a waitress), Jeff (from North Carolina, starting a new job in a few weeks, but decided he just HAD to know if he could make it as an "Idol" before he started working and being a grown up), 2 guys behind us in line from Hagerstown (brothers, one was auditioning, one was moral support), another girl with her mother and brother (I think the girl may have gone to high school with Kyle, but not sure) and others. All in all we had about 10 people in our "group". This significantly aided our ability to not let people cut in line. When we went around the ends of the rows, we would form a wall that would move evenly through the curve, which prevented people from cutting to the inside and sneaking ahead in line.
It was nice to be with a big group. There were people to chat with, people to watch your things when you went to the bathroom. Mary even bought me a cup of tea. I shared granola bars. It was fun. Well, it wasn't fun, but having comrades in the torture made it better.
Friends & family would call me on my cell, incredulous that I was *still* in line. I honestly lost track of time. We would move forward, and then stop. The closer we got to the front, the bigger the moves got and the longer the breaks between. At one point, with no explanation, we were totally still for an hour and a half.
Conversation grew limited as time passed -- we were all just trying to muster the strength to stay and not give up.
I was fairly certain that this was not for me, and I was never going to be the next American Idol. A lot of the people in line were better singers than me. A lot of them were cuter than me. A lot of them had more . . . presence? . . . than me. But I also knew I couldn't give up without knowing.
My feet hurt so bad that I would find semi-clean spaces on the floor and sit for a few minutes. I hurt so badly that several times I thought, "I really can't do this. I'm going to have to go home." Just as it got to be it's worst, Mary borrowed a pair of clean socks from Nancy. Hooray! I could take off my platforms and just avoid the wet patches on the floor. It was heaven. My spirit was immediately lifted and I realized I *would* be able to do this.
By about 6:30/7:00 giddiness had set in. We had been in line for over 14 hours. But, we could see the light at the end of the tunnel! We had only about 10 rows of competitors in front of us! Everyone was more lighthearted and upbeat. We started to joke with each other and chat a little bit more.
With about 3 rows of people left in front of us, we were all excited. We knew that we'd make it through to the audition. Of course, at this point, we were exhausted. It was about 7:30 at night, and we had all been in line for over 15 hours. Knowing that we were almost to the end of the big room seemed impossible -- it had become easy to forget what we were waiting for while in line. It started to feel like the waiting WAS what we were there for -- it was so easy to forget what was still to come.
We had started joking that, in fact, we weren't in line for American Idol. That instead, Fox was playing a joke -- we were simply on some kind of twisted reality show that demonstrated how people handle unbelievable stress and fatigue. Given the waiver that we had to sign (giving them permission to humiliate us, to broadcast false information about us, etc.) it started to feel less than far fetched.
At this point, I saw a girl that I am absolutely certain will end up on the American Idol television show. She had been in front of us all along, I guess, but I hadn't really noticed her. She had jet black hair, and was wearing red lipstick put on with all the care of a rodeo clown. She had changed her clothes and was wearing a tight, royal blue bodysuit (the kind cut like a bathing suit -- no skirt or pants or anything) with short sleeves. It didn't fit her very well, so the scoop neck made the shoulders fall open, revealing her black bra straps. Her body type was not fat, but not slender, either, a little . . . lumpy . . . under the bodysuit. She also had on neon green fishnet stockings with large holes ripped in them. She was also wearing bright pink legwarmers and a single pink terrycloth wristband. The sight was unbelievable. There is no way this girl is NOT ending up on prime time television.
A girl behind me in line actually asked her if she *knew* her fishnets had large holes in them. She assured us all that it was intentional. She showed us her little audition dance. People took her picture and asked for autographs. I wondered aloud if maybe this was a part of the twisted Fox reality show we were now on. ;) It just seemed so surreal. She is the next William Hung. I wish so desperately that I had gotten her name.
About 8:15, our group got to the front of the line. We hoped we would all be able to go through in the same group of 70. It worked out perfectly -- about 15 people ahead of us was the cut off from the previous group. When it came time, we were all led out of the room together, and into a hallway. We were then told to make sure our release forms were filled out, and the "guests" were separated from the contestants. I said goodbye to Mary & Nancy at this point. They had been a wonderful help.
We ended up sitting in the hallway for another 15 minutes or so. But that was ok -- there was carpet out there, and it was CLEAN. It was so lovely to lean up against a wall and relax for a few minutes.
After that, they moved us into another (clean, carpeted) hallway. We were told we'd be waiting for another half an hour or so, and several of us availed ourselves of the bathrooms nearby. At this point, we were explained the procedure for the auditions, and the reality of it began to set in. People started to sing warm up exercises, and a couple of people even led the group in a few songs (Build Me Up Buttercup, Lean On Me, etc.). There was such an excited, relieved energy. It was great. I started to get nervous, but then realized how silly and futile it was and managed to squash it. I did start to remind myself of the words of my song.
Then, we were ushered up another escalator. This was it -- the final line. The line snaked down a hallway into a ballroom. At this point, we were told to be quiet out of respect for those auditioning. When we entered the ballroom, we could see how the auditions were held. Around the room were 12 stations. At each station, there was table, and there were three people sitting behind it: a producer and 2 other people (still not totally sure of who these other two were). In front of the table were 4 rows of 5 people each. The room was a cacophony of sound -- at any given time there were 12 people singing their hearts out. The acoustics of the room were such that in some cases, you could hear people across the room better than one standing next to you.
When we got to the front of the line, we were assigned to station 12. All 5 of our group were from the group that had been together all day, which was really cool. Our producer was a stocky white guy with red hair and a bit of a beard. He seemed pleasant enough as we heard him explain the situation to the group of 5 at the front: one at a time, we would step forward, state our name, where we were from, anything else interesting about ourselves, and what we were singing. Then, we would sing. We got to hear about 15 people sing. Some were good, some were bad, some were inaudible. 2 made it through to the next phase of the audition. They were given an orange piece of paper and ushered into another room. The rest were told "thank you" (not unkindly) and they left.
In general, the audition process was much kinder than I had been led to believe. Our producer listened attentively, and politely cut people off when they stopped to take a breath -- never in the middle of a word or phrase. He thanked everyone for their audition, and his standard answer was "you're just not what we're looking for right now".
I was to be the first person in my line of 5, which was fine with me. I'd already been waiting all day, I didn't need to wait any longer! As I stood in line, listening to the people ahead of me sing, I kept forgetting my song. Not just the words, but the title, the melody, everything. The relief of being at the end of the journey was allowing fatigue to set in, big time. I was exhausted, and my brain was doing its best to shut off. I was really worried I would forget the words or even the melody to my song, so I kept running it over & over in my head. Just the first line: if I could get through that, I could do it.
As the last girl in the group of 5 ahead of me prepared to sing, something really cool happened. She was 16, from Mount Airy, MD. She was very shaken, and said she had changed her mind and didn't think she wanted to go through with her audition: she was too scared. Instead of thanking her and sending her on her way, the producer said, "Honey, you've been waiting in line for over 16 hours. You take a minute if you need it, but you aren't leaving here without singing for me." She took a minute, and she sang, crying. She was terrible. But she got her audition. It was more kindness than I ever would have expected in this situation, and I found it truly remarkable.
Then, it was my turn. I stepped up, introduced myself, shook the hands of the auditioners (which a lot of people were doing), and sang my song. I was so intent on the first line: it came out, but almost more spoken than sung. I knew after I'd gotten two notes out that I'd never get called back. But I sure wasn't going to give up -- I finished my 30 seconds, got my "thank you", and was done.
I listened to the auditions of the other 4 in my group. None of us got called back. We all walked out together. It was over. It was about 9:40 at night. I had been there since 4:15 that morning. I had been up since 2:00. I was ready to go home.
I went outside, called Dan, and asked to be picked up. He said he'd come to get me. I chatted with Jeff while he waited for his ride -- I told him that at least we could be consoled by having not been BAD enough to get called back for being terrible.
As I waited for Dan, I saw a few people who had numbers on -- the sign that they had been called back. They all had something in common: they just didn't seem like regular people. They had an energy that set them apart. Part of it was probably exuberance at being called back -- but I think it was also the "x factor" that they're always talking about on American Idol.
Two guys came up to chat -- I think they were hitting on me, but was too tired to care or be sure. One of them had a number on. I congratulated him. He had a white jacket on with faux fur trim. He said, "Yeah, man, I was surprised! I messed up my song, had to start over like 5 times and still didn't get it. I can't believe I got called back!" I think I may see him on the "blooper reel". ;)
Then Dan picked me up, we went home, ordered a pizza, and went to sleep. The next day I got up and came back to work. Life goes on. I'm glad I did it. I wouldn't do it again on a dare, or a bet, or for $1,000. Seriously.
I have the utmost respect for everyone who makes it onto the show. It's not easy. I read it described in The Washington Post as "a showbiz lottery ticket". It is, but it requires a lot more work than winning the lottery. It pales in comparison to the people who actually pay their dues at work their way into the business, but it's no easy task, either. It's set up to deter the faint of heart, and those without conviction.
You can bet I'll watch every American Idol episode this year. I'll watch the DC episode to see if I, or my new friends, or the crazy people I met along the way are on there. I will cheer for EVERYONE on the show -- talented and not. They suffered through what I did, and I respect them for it.
I don't have what it takes to be an American Idol. But I *know*. I'm glad. I don't have to wonder. Current Mood: exhausted