Wednesday night was possibly the best night ever… until Sunday night. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Wednesday.
First Bob and I headed to Epcot. One of my favorite ensembles was performing and I’d been waiting all season to see them. Yes, Boys II Men has finally come to O-Town. The last time I saw Boys II Men (yes I’ve seen them three times total – and now four) was on my eighteenth birthday. Opening for them (on the day I became old enough to vote) was the hip hoppy gentleman who sang the “This is how we do iiii-it” song (and to be honest with you, he was pretty bad). It was a fun day at some fair ground area in New York or Pennsylvania somewhere and the Boys were terrific, as I knew they would be. They wore crazy matchy costumes if I remember correctly (especially that one with his walking stick who was also quite the dancer – not a typical combination) and they were excellent singers putting on quite a show.
Anyway, (back to this week’s performance) Leslie (Bob’s sister and my new hero) got to the park early and got in line. After a good deal of begging, she agreed to save us a spot so we hustled to the America Gardens Theatre to find the line clear into Germany and still growing (for those of you who don’t know how far that is, just know that it’s far). We hopped into line with Leslie and just moments later they let us (and hundreds of our closest friends) into the amphitheatre – so many that it was bursting at the seams – by far the most crowded that I’ve ever seen that pavilion. We were in the third row and it was so crowded that the gaggle was seated for about five minutes when the whisper of the Boys arrival came across the crowd we all jumped to our feet and stayed there for the duration.
Boys II Men are worth that kind of discomfort and inconvenience.
Anyway, I was genuinely moved during several songs and had several teenaged angst-riddled moments (and for fear that you will pick on me relentlessly, I won’t share their names, but I’m sure you can guess pretty easily – to be honest their whole playlist is pretty embarrassing). My favorite part of the concert was when I looked around and found myself in a crowd of people (most women of course) singing out (and I mean OUT) emotionally and without shame. As I scanned the crowd I noticed that they were all about my age, and thought to myself no one there looked old or un-hip in any way. As I was getting a little full of myself thinking that we were all still quite young and spry actually, the Boys took a moment to thank the crowd for their support for the last 18-years. Ouch. I’ve spoken to proper adults (when I say adults, I always mean OLD people – people like my friend Will who is VERY OLD) who’ve said that they didn’t feel as old as they were and that they were somehow stuck at a certain age – usually somewhere in the late teens or early 20’s. I don’t feel so different from 17 or 18, and seeing the Boys, who I hadn’t seen in 12 years allowed 30 to rear its old ugly head again. I’m going to need to figure out how to be alright with 30 at some point, but it’s sure as hell not today.
Anyway, the show was a terrific one – have a look for yourselves! Make sure to take note of the running-man as it is proudly performed!
After the show ended Bob and I hustled out of the park (which is quite a long walk by the way) to make it to Kissimmee in time. Why would we go to Kissimmee late at night and in the cold, you ask? Oh, did I forget to mention the chilly weather? By the time we left Epcot it was about 50 degrees and going down (and yes, that’s cold for Orlando, especially in October… and even colder in flip-flops). Bob and I were meeting Mike Graybill in Kissimmee because our friends – the Big B’s – were speaking and having a rally. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were coming and scheduled to hit the stage at 11pm. Bob and I fought our way through brutal Osceola County-yee-haw traffic, parked at a trusty Burger King and walked several miles to the end of the line to get in. We waited in the line for about an hour and a half (and walked another long way) until we finally got onto the field. I’ll be honest with you; I was tired, cold, and a little grumpy (my toes were wet after all) but as usual, Bob cheered me up and took good care of me. Graybill had thoughtfully bought us the last two hot chocolates at the venue (bless him) and we waited anxiously for the Big B’s to arrive.
As we drank our DELICIOUS hot cocoa we made some observations about the crowd. True, there were some crazies, for instance the man and his two sons ages 8 and 10 who were attending the event but not going to school the next day (because, as the dad shared, there was more to be learned at this event than at their orange county public school the next day), the obnoxious enthusiasts who clearly napped all day and were offensively peppy, and the hipster beatniks. They were old and young, yuppie and hick, and practically a United Colours of Benetton ad of cultural diversity woven throughout the crowd. I looked around at the excited crowd anticipating the B-arrival together, as a unit, as a gathering of very unlikely friends. Watching them interact with their neighbors, dressed and styled differently than themselves, that wouldn’t typically have anything in common, but at this event, they were together for a common goal – to accomplish something and be a part of something.
The B’s came and spoke and, not at all surprisingly, were both pretty terrific, but what I took away from the event (besides being able to spend the following day saying “I was there” every time someone turned on the news which was pretty cool in and of itself), was the beautifully motley community that the B event inspired… Also, whatever you think and whomever you’re for, it cannot be denied that Bill and Barack are two of the most commanding speakers around.
The only thing that would have put the event over the top is if Boys II Men had appeared on stage to give the B’s a proper introduction. I can almost imagine Bill singing along with feeling in his Arkansan accent to “Bended Knee”, or cutting a southern rug to Motown-Philly. I can dream, can’t I?
Sunday night’s activities? I know you’re excited but you’re just going to have to wait