So I ended up at an Ella Fitzgerald concert, totally, totally inappropriately dressed. Read part one here.
I was entranced, thrilled, watching and listening to every Ella move, every note. Thankful that the sun was setting, all eyes were focused on Ella on stage and hoping no one could see me in my grungy get-up. Ella sang all the familiar favorites, and it really was a dream come true. About 20 feet away from my idol.
K no doubt noticed that I knew every tune by heart. To her, Ella was someone famous that her father knew, but she clearly wasn't in the die-hard fan group with me.
All I wanted to do was cower in my seat, arms crossing over my lap. I spotted the Deputy Mayor of Boston, a few other luminaries whom I knew vaguely and I just wanted to don the cloak of invisibility. You have to understand, I looked totally gross and shabby: windblown, unshowered, salty, sandy, wild mane of hair. Everything unkempt one can look like at the end of a day at the beach.
"Let's go backstage!" says K. "With my VIP pass we can go back there, no problem! You're such a fan, you can meet Ella."
Daggers of pain, angst. "No, I can't possibly -- look at me!"
"Jeeeez, Polly, when will you ever have this chance again? Don't be ridiculous. Who cares?"
"I care." Talk about being torn in two. No. No. No. Yes. Yes. Yes.
But I bit the bullet. I rose from my seat, followed K past the "No admission" sign to the back of the stage, and after we waited outside the makeshift dressing room for a few minutes, out came Ella. Elegant and larger than life in her long shining satin dress. I think it was purple. Was it my imagination, or was there a halo-like aura about her?
I stammered. What can you say to Ella Fitzgerald that isn't a cliche? What can you say to explain meeting her while looking like a bum? Nothing. I shook her hand. And I said, "Miss Fitzgerald, you have been my idol since I was 12. This is the greatest moment for me."
She smiled kindly and looked a little tired. I think she pretended not to notice my insultingly slapdash appearance. "Why, thank you, dear." At least I think that's what she said. My ears felt filled with cotton. My brain was in another planet.
"Could I have your .... signature?" I had never asked for an autograph before. Damn, that was the word I meant to say: autograph.
"Of course." She signed my program. I think K winked at her or gave some other inside signal, and we left.
My heart was pounding, and to this day, I don't know whether it was because I was actually meeting Miss Ella Fitzgerald, at long last. Or whether it was from sheer embarrassment.
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