Am I a Groupie? (Ellen Degeneres)

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Am I A Groupie?   

            What compels a 49 year old woman (yes, me)  to wake up at 5 in the morning, when it’s still dark outside, take a quick imposing shower, put on tons of makeup (at my age, if you don’t, you are liable to scare someone-KEEP AMERICA BEAUTIFUL–I must do my civic duty!) Cram a toasted 1,000 calorie bagel down her throat, get in a van, and drive into Manhattan, dealing with rain and traffic, just to stand on line, a very long line, waiting to see the premiere show of Ellen Degeneres? Dedication? Craziness? No life? Or am I, dare I say, at my age, a groupie? Can it be that at the age of 49, I am doing what I should have been doing in my early 20’s? I think about this as the memories of yesterday’s adventure fill my head while my body yells at me each time I make a move to get out of bed.     

            Waiting for 8 hours on line, while the sky decided every hour or so, to rain upon my freshly washed, soon to be frizzy hair was an experience. I asked myself several times in the midst of the many conversations going on, why I was doing this? I did this before back in November in Los Angeles. I remembered receiving the letter in the mail telling me that I, Sonia Agron, was the lucky recipient of 4 tickets to the Ellen Degeneres show. Of course it was in LA but I thought, I would not only get to see my favorite female comedienne but I could also get in a long weekend mini vacation in LA. Yes, long and mini seems oxymoronic but this is my story, deal with it.  So off I went.   

         What greeted me was a long line at 6 in the morning. Don’t people sleep? I know why I was there early; I wanted to be sure that even though I had tickets for the show, my getting there early would guarantee a seat in the studio audience instead of the riff raff room. I did not travel 6 long hours to see Ellen and get stuck in a room where I’d only get to see what I could have stayed home for. So getting there hours before the show was to begin was imperative. But it was daunting. When the show was over, I vowed I’d never do this again… 

Until….    

              I was invited to attend her premiere show in New York, my hometown, with guaranteed seat tickets. That meant I didn’t have to get there early because I had guaranteed tickets. Or so I thought until I read the fine print and it said, FIRST COME FIRST SERVE. So there it was again, if I wanted to be in the audience I had to get there early. And since misery loves company, I invited my 2 nieces’ to come along with me. I figured the aches and pain in my body, wouldn’t hurt as much if I had others to share it with.      

          So off we went. We were a bit down when we woke up and discovered it was raining. We tried to get into a good frame of mind while we prepared ourselves for the day’s adventure but the rain was a reminder that by the time the show started taping, we’d look like wet pigeons on TV. Tina, my niece who was picking us up was running late. I started to panic. I remembered the long line in Los Angeles. I didn’t want to deal with that in New York. I began to make plans to take a cab so that I wouldn’t lose my guaranteed space in line. Finally, my brain took over, stopped my heart from beating erratically and I decided I’ll get there when I get there. After all I had GUARANTEED seats.   

            Twenty minutes later we were on our way. As we began to buckle ourselves into our seats, three teenage girls began to squeal like groupies at a rock concert. Those teenage girls were us. I put a Justin Timberlake CD in and while the rain was pounding on the windshield, we car danced all the way into Manhattan. We had decided, rain or no rain, we were going to see the PREMIERE SHOW in Central Park of the ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW! I couldn’t help look into other cars as people were driving themselves to work and think, “HA! HA! I’m going to the Ellen Show and you’re not! Neener Neener Neeener!”    

             We finally arrived and the excitement was alive in spite of the wet atmosphere. We chatted with a few people, said polite hellos with a nod of our carefully coifed hair and waited patiently for the 9:30 time to arrive so that the gates would be open and we’d be led into our GUARANTEED seats. Each time we grew impatient or a bit discouraged at doing nothing but standing on line, we kept looking behind us and that made us feel some what better because in spite of our situation, there were others who had to wait longer to get in. It was almost like driving on the road hearing a car honking its horn because you are driving slow and you thinking, I may be slow but I’m still ahead of you. It was little consolation but it was consolation just the same.   

              By 10:30 when the gates still hadn’t opened, and my hair was beginning to morph into Betty Boops head, I began to get even more discouraged. I was used to the waiting but standing next to me were two favorite people in my life. Rebecca, my niece is a single mom. I don’t have to tell you how difficult that is. But she’s a trooper and she does a mighty fine job of raising her son.  So when she gets to take a day off from work, to enjoy herself without having to tend to her son, Jared, it’s a luxury. Tina is the mother of two. And while she does have a husband that works long, arduous hours, helps to provide for the family, is a partner, a friend, and a wonderful companion, she is still the mother of two and while she has no complaints, after awhile, people tend to forget that. They think staying at home all day is a luxury. They don’t see it as work. (Now, I never saw staying at home with my daughter as work and neither does Tina, but if we had to pay someone to do what we do, it is called work. And so that’s what I shall call it now. ) In this day and age, I’m surprised that people still see stay at home moms, as soap opera bombom chicks. So at the end of Tina’s day, adult company is also a luxury.    

               Tina and Rebecca take after me when I was a young mom. I was always on a guilt trip when it came to my daughter. If I took time out to do something for myself, I would always feel as if I was depriving my child of something. The guilt would consume me, making me a travel agent for guilt trips. So inviting both of them along on this special premiere GUARANTEED seating extravaganza was my way of giving them a special treat and here they both were, leaving their work and children behind, standing in line, getting wet and me thinking, “What have I done to  them?”     

                Finally the gates opened and off we went; three teenage groupies disguised as three grown up women, heading into the park, ready to be seated in our GUARANTEED premiere seats. And instead we were greeted with yet another longer line. I tried to keep the atmosphere upbeat but even I couldn’t pull it off for too long when disappointment kept finding it’s way into my usual positive self as I kept patting my head feeling my do grow by the minute. So with big hair, and an almost negative attitude, I kept reminding myself that we were there, we were at a premier show and we had GUARANTEED seats. That lasted about an hour before more negativity set in. Maybe it was that or the fact that I spent the night sleeping in curlers so that my hair would look good on camera and now it was threatening to block the camera because it was growing by leaps and bounds. I was beginning to look like the trees in Central Park.     

             The rain stopped. We dug into our bag of snacks. And the line began to move. But it was only a tease. But hope sprung eternal for me. My hair was not frizzing as much and the growth process was delaying itself. I might still look good on camera. I tried to stay positive, I swear I did. Tina and Rebecca were doing their best as well. There is something about waiting on long lines that makes your brain start thinking about things from your past and before long we were sharing moments in our lives that reminded us of how young, silly and crazy we used to be. It also made us think of how far we’ve come. Who would have thought all those years ago, as we were living our lives to the fullest that we’d be standing on a long line in Central Park with GUARANTEED premier seats to the Ellen Degeneres Show, talking about our lives and laughing about the craziness that we all lived to talk about?   

 The line moved again….only backwards…        

              They had to now make room for the VIPERS… Okay.. Not vipers… that’s what I called them… they were in actuality the VIPers.. Those privileged enough to have special seats. But wait… my ticket said I had GUARANTEED seats, wasn’t that special too? I soon learned that all these weeks while I thought my seats were exclusive, it was just a play on words. The lines were getting longer and longer as we watched the Vipers coming in late, walk past us, smiling and snickering. I stood there wanting to stick my foot out, hoping that one of them would trip and fall face first into the mud, ruining their dry clothing and mussing up their non frizzy hair. That wouldn’t have made the line smaller or move faster but it would have given us some added entertainment and a sense of satisfaction. Yes, it’s catty but you weren’t standing on line with wet clothes and a Betty Boop head. So MEOW!   

             Finally, the line was moving but only because they were sitting the VIPERS. By this time we were calling them the Yellow people because their tickets were yellow and ours were blue. Lines had been drawn. It was no longer the Ellen Degeneres Premier show, it was about the yellows and the blues, and it was a gang war. They were invading our turf and we didn’t like it. Each time the line moved to accommodate more yellow people, we grew hopeful that our turn would soon arrive only to turn around and watch another bus load of Vipers stroll in, smiling and moving to the front of the line. This is how wars start. I’m sure of it. 

        “People…. ” I heard someone say….”I ask you this… aren’t we fans too? Do we not matter? Did they not call us, send us these tickets? Did we ask to be here? Noooooooooooooo… and yet we came, through rain, thunder, lightening and heavy traffic, to watch our beloved Ellen premiere her show in our home town and this is the way we are treated?  I say, NO MORE YELLOW … NO MORE VIPERS!! BLUE BLUE BLUE!” … They began to chant…

             I looked up and noticed my nieces’ staring at me… as my mouth came to a halt. Opps.. I thought to myself… I got carried away… so off my soap box I came and behaved like a drenched, tired, person standing on what would be our 6th hour on line. We were in this together, so I accepted my fate and spoke no more. To this very moment, I blame my behavior on my Betty  Boop head. That’s my story your honor…          

          Yea right. I didn’t stop there at my NO MORE VIPERS speech. A while later, I think around hour 8, I encouraged them all to write to Ellen and complain. I would have asked to write to their Congressmen as well but I’m not that into politics and with my luck, the Congressmen would wind up with VIP tickets. Yes, I was a protestor. I was rebelling. My hair was growing, my feet ached, my back hurt and my GUARANTEED seats were no longer a comfort for me.     

          And the line moved…. but we didn’t.

          And to make matters worse, we could hear Justin Timberlake and Beyonce rehearsing as the masses that were allowed in earlier were watching this show that should have been mine, Tina’s and Rebecca’s. I was not a happy camper. In fact, I was a tired, wet, cranky camper whose hair was starting to take on a life of its own.   

And then the line moved and so did we.

          And then it stopped.And then it moved and then it stopped.And then someone said, when it moves again, don’t let it stop. Just keep walking. They can’t hold back a group as big as ours. And yes, I said it but I wasn’t alone. I had an angry crowd to support me and my Betty Boop head.

          And we walked…. and we moved…. and the music grew louder… and the line stopped. But we were closer. And we heard the music playing louder and I was grateful that my hair hadn’t frizzed too much because then it would have covered my ears and I couldn’t hear the music.  And then it happened…..   The line moved and I WAS ON THAT LINE… and there it was.. The big stage… the chairs… the water bottles being handed out and the chairs….the chairs… never did plastic chairs look so good to me until that moment…..  and all I could think of was to get to one of those chairs…you know… my GUARANTEED seat… and it greeted me… and my  body went ahhhhh…and we sat… we stood…we danced to the music… we laughed… we drank our warm water… we added more gloss to our dried lips… we held onto our GUARANTEED seats.      

  Ladies and Gentlemen….starting her fourth season on NBC… Emmy award winning talk show host ELLEN DEGENERES!!!!!   

           And there they were… three teenage groupies, screaming ELLEN ELLEN ELLEN… dancing on their tired and achy feet, smiling, laughing, as the sun came out and welcomed us to the show. Three groupies with four children between them, forgetting the long 9 hour wait, forgetting the Betty Boop hair, the growling sounds from their empty stomachs, dancing to the beat of Justin Timberlake,  woohoohooing till their voices were raw creating new memories in their adult lives. And all because I had GUARANTEED seats.         

            Am I a Groupie? Maybe…. would I do this again? Hmmm yesterday I said no…. today I say maybe…but tomorrow… if I get the chance to do this again, I just might say yes. In fact, I will say yes. Because even though it was grueling to say the least, I got to be a groupie. I got in touch with the girl I was years ago and I got to share it with the little girls I used to know that were now moms, feeling what I felt years ago. Suddenly there were no lines, no colors, no groups, just laughter, joy and memories. And I’d stand on line again in a heartbeat to experience that all over again with my teenage groupies.

 Copyright © 2006 by Sonia Agron

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