You probably don’t remember me. In fact, I kind of hope you don’t because I am a little embarrassed about the other night. We met for the second time and I had about ten amusing things running through my head to say to you, and instead I said an obnoxious thing that seemed to make you uncomfortable, and rightfully so. I need to apologize. But first, a sliver of backstory.
The first time we met was in 2007. I got backstage passes from my friend who was one of the dancers during “Smells Like Nirvana.” It was awesome. You were so gracious and kind, despite clearly being exhausted from performing such a high-energy show. I got to tell you that I am an opera singer, and that my first interest in musical performance came from you. I used to lip-synch to your songs at talent shows as a kid. You seemed appreciative, although I don’t know, maybe tons of opera singers tell you that. How am I supposed to know how many famous classical musicians track you down to confess that they owe their careers to you, huh?
Anyway, you were signing autographs and I was sad because, though I own every one of your albums on cassette, CD, digitally, and some on LP, it never occurred to me to bring any of it for you to sign. But it was fine. We took an awesome picture together, you me and my wife, and I thought at the time, “Boy, I wish “Weird Al” could sign this!” But sadly, instant photograph printing had gone the way of the Polaroid. It was okay. I left happy and fulfilled.
I have seen you perform several more times since then, but I have never had a second opportunity to meet you in person. And then, last week, I saw a sponsored Facebook post from a mildly nearby venue one state over asking people to submit their own parody videos for a chance to win passes to meet you. I had no thoughts of actually winning, but as I have many parody videos online I thought I may as well submit one. I assume you have not seen any of them, since you have famously stated that you never listen to parody suggestions or ideas, lest you be creatively tainted. I get that. So I will not tell you what my award-winning parody video was. But I will say that it was about food. You can see now why I won.
Well I couldn’t believe that I had won the chance to see you again. I only had a few days notice, but I made plans, got a sitter for the kids, printed out that photo we took together nine years ago, and I drove three hours with my wife for what I expected was going to be a similar experience. and THIS time I was going to get that photo signed!
Here is where things went slightly sideways. You see, I went in with expectations, which is so often a terrible idea. We arrived,we got our stickers that said “Meet and Greet” and were instructed to appear after the show at a designated location, and then we sat down to enjoy the concert. I want you to know that it was amazing. We saw the same show with my daughter last year, and this time might have been even better. Seriously, there is a reason I have been so inspired by you all of these years, and when the show ended I was walking on clouds. Well, not literally, walking on clouds. It’s a metaphor. Get it? It just means I was happy.
Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, the show was over. We walked over to the pre-arranged spot with about twenty other people, and the excitement was building. Clutching my photograph in my hands I chatted with some of the other pass holders, waiting for a few minutes to chat with you. And then we sat outside in the cold for an hour being shouted at. They told us we could not take any pictures. They told us to keep our phones put away. They told us that you were not allowed to sign anything. They told us that this was a photo-op only, and that their photographer would take one picture of us and post it on their Facebook page later. They told us we had ten seconds with you, and not to dawdle. The mood was becoming less sparkly than it had been.
As we stood there in the chilly night air, they let the stormtroopers from the show in to mingle with us. Along with the stormtroopers came a few other guys who seemed very drunk and they started, um, “working the crowd” I guess (quotation marks used not for emphasis, but used apologetically, which is not optimal, but acceptable). My wife and I were getting kind of uncomfortable. I started wondering if there was any way to get my picture signed. What if I begged you? What if I tricked them somehow using a diversion? Was there a way? I was assured, very loudly, that there was not, and that I should put the photo away. So I decided to just hold the picture up in the new picture, because I thought it might be funny or cool or something. By the time you arrived, I was disappointed and grumpy because my expectations had been challenged in a way that I didn’t like. And none of this was your fault.
I had so many ideas for what to say to you in the ten seconds that I was going to have with you (five, technically, because half of the seconds were my wife’s). Here are just a few of the better choices:
- Hey Al, we’re here for our nine-year reunion!
- Here’s the picture of us from nine years ago. Where should we meet nine years from now to do the next one?
- Hey Al, I brought this picture of us together because I thought you would probably want it.
- Great show Al! You are the best! I am in no way disappointed with this experience!
- Al, I found this picture of you and my wife. What do you have to say for yourself?!
- My wife and I have a bet as to whether or not you actually age. Would you mind standing next to this photo from nine years ago for a second?
I did not say any of those things. Instead I said, in rather a grumpy manner, “They told me I’m not allowed to ask you to sign this, so I guess I’ll just hold it over here.”
You started to look around, slightly flustered. I had put you on the spot. It was not fair. You had no control, clearly, over what the venue’s plan was. I could tell that you would have been glad to sign it, but by the time either of us could say anything they were shouting “Next!” and ushering us away from you. And that was it. We were gone, and I had spent my ten seconds with you complaining. Almost accusing. And I knew it the instant we stepped away from you. What I really wanted to say to you was that the show was amazing. That you are amazing! You have meant so much to me for almost my entire life, and there is no way to possibly express that in ten seconds, but I could have started with a little gratitude. I could have begun with joy. But no, I let my temporary bad mood, probably made worse by the fact that it had come directly after a fairly euphoric Al-provided high, get in my way. And I am so sorry.
I was distraught on the way back to the hotel. The picture was clearly ruined. I had been grumpy. You had been confused. I could tell you would have helped me if you could have, but what could you have done? The whole encounter had been wrecked by me. The photo was sure to be a disaster. And then I actually saw the image online the next morning. There you were, smiling away. I was next to you, holding up the old photograph, grinning like the happiest man in the world. It was an incredible picture. How had that happened? Had the photographer accidentally caught us all between grimaces? Or was it some “Weird Al” magic? I had no idea. But suddenly the annoyances of the previous night melted away completely. No, I hadn’t gotten anything signed, but I had seen a great show, and I had another fantastic photo with you. No regrets. Except for the one. The regret that I had said a foolish thing to you in the one moment I had, and if you remembered me at all it would probably be as that one fan who was mad at you for something you had no control over.
I’m not mad at you. You are awesome. I hope you are not mad at me. I am less awesome, but generally more awesome than I acted on Friday night. If I ever find your address written on a bathroom stall somewhere, maybe I will mail you the photo and ask you to sign it for me and send it back. Maybe you could write on it “To the second greatest comedy musician of all time,” or something subtle like that. Otherwise I guess I will see you in nine years somewhere, with no expectations, a pocket full of photos and sharpies, and a lot of love.
Thanks for listening,