Saturday, June 1, 2013

So this happened

I know this blog says Cruise 2012. Let's talk about that later.

VIP check in was at 4:30 and by the time we got done with our surprise group photo, I think it was around 6:15. The group photo, by the way, threw me off because I was not prepared for it. And somehow, no one in our group had a preference of who to stand with. Everyone said “we like them all.” When does that happen?

For the group, Karen and I made sure to go in last to give everyone else as much time as possible. Danny was on the end, so that meant we stood with him. We said something to the effect of “we’ll be back in 5 minutes for the ultimates,” and he shouted to the photographer, “Hey, they’re ultimates.” We said, “oh, they told us to come in here.” He said, “I know, but we gotta fix this.” So then I was flustered we had done something wrong.

Poor Jon looked delirious from lack of sleep. Karen asked him if he had slept at all and the answer was, not really. Next was Joe who seemed to be presenting a dissertation to the two girls standing with him, and we didn’t want to interrupt when we were coming right back, so we decided to leave. Donnie started yelling at us because we hadn’t finished the line, and we again explained we were coming back. The whole thing was weird. I don’t respond well to unplanned NK encounters!

After that, we ask what we’re supposed to do and VIP Lars puts us in this little seating area next to the bathrooms with the other ultimates. Everyone was lovely and chatting was a good distraction, but I also kind of just wanted to close my eyes for a minute.

Without warning, Lars comes back to tell us to “think about” lining up. I panic and run into the bathroom to do some emergency lip gloss. This was tricky because the entire 5 stall bathroom was seemingly lit by a single 40-watt bulb. You’d have better lighting at midnight under a street lamp. While I was in there, @SimplyShannon came in and we started chatting about the awkward group pic. I didn’t think I was in there more than about 2 minutes, but when I came out, all the ultimates were gone and there was no sign of Lars.

Panic again! I was immediately convinced I had missed everything and it was over. But I ran back to where we lined up with groups and found everyone. I got at the end of the line. The set up was such that everyone in line was watching you go in, so I was actually pretty happy to be last and not have an audience.

As soon as that had been settled Extremely Drunk Girl #1 lines up behind me and starts asking what’s happening. She was so drunk, she had missed her group photo and was now trying to get an ultimate to make up for it. But in the meantime, she wanted to talk. Talk about her stomach surgery, talk about how short Michael Buble is, talk about how she had to pee a lot. I tried gesturing to the 25 year old security dude for help, but he was worthless. Meanwhile, her friend, Extremely Drunk Girl #2 kept telling #1 to line right up and get a pic.

We inch toward the door. #1 never shut up and was nearly hanging on me. Meanwhile I am thinking there really should be more chairs in the line in case someone’s (like me for example) knees gave out. #1 has 4 children. #1 used to work security. Finally, me: you need to get out of this line. #1: they told me to stand here. Me: no one who works here told you to stand here and you need to get out.

At this point, we were close enough to Earl that he noticed, and he told her to go get another drink. That actually worked. By now girl #9 is up, I’m completely thrown off from encounters with the drunk kind, and I realize I have no plan for how to start. Also, watching the people in line ahead of me was making me more nervous. And why were there so many people in the room? Did 7 other people really need to be there?

I started to have A Moment. I was now the only person left in line, standing next to Earl, who was texting on his phone. After a few seconds, Earl notices that I am having A Moment, and asks me very sweetly if I’m okay. And that’s when I felt my eyes start to tingle. “Uh oh,” says Earl. “Shit, here it goes,” I think. Female security person who is not Earl looks over and asks me what’s wrong. This prompts two girls standing outside the door to notice and act concerned, and all the attention to me starting to cry is making me more panicky, which makes me cry more. “Stop crying,” says female not-Earl helpfully. “Go tell that guy your name.”

I take a couple deep breaths and walk down to the end of the ramp to tell the VIP Nation guy my name. Him: “what are you doing? Go talk to them.” I only realize now she probably said “tell the guyS your name.” Which I did not do.

This is the part where sensory overload completely takes over, and I started to have way too many competing voices in my head to process. So I am only vaguely aware of what happened from this point forward.

Danny, for some reason, comes to escort everyone from the ramp. Immediately upon seeing me he said “Why are you crying? You were just in here.” Me, remembering I am not wearing waterproof mascara and frantically wiping my eyes, “I don’t know.”

Joe had started walking toward us and said “that’s a great dress.” Then he very slowly looked me up and down and said “gorgeous!” I’m fairly certain he was still referring to the dress, but is it any wonder I had no recollection of my name anymore? I don’t even think I responded. See? This is why I had to write things down. Otherwise it would have been just crying with a lot of blank stares.

Suddenly I become aware that the photographer is 1 ft away. “I have to get it together or these pictures are going to be a mess,” I say. I think I hugged Danny? By the photos it looks like I hugged Joe? I don’t know.

Joe notices that I am holding a piece of paper and asks me what it is. Or I think he maybe surmised that I was planning to read. So he pulls me over to the group and says “guys, she’s going to read us something.” (By the way, these quotes are all very approximate.) And now I’m standing like a quarterback in a huddle with everyone around me. This is too much. Have there always been this many of them? And why am I still crying?

Donnie asks if I want him to read it for me. No, I say, let me at least try it first and see how it goes. If that doesn’t work, he can take over.

Now, when I decided to write everything down, I did so with the realization that all of my photos would be of me reading. And I did it anyway. It was more important for me to take this opportunity to tell them how much they meant to me than to have cute posed photos. I knew me trying that on my own or going in there to make lighthearted regular conversation was not an option. So this is what I picked.

I open the paper and think “why are there so many words on this paper?! I can’t read all this!” Deep breath. I get exactly one word into reading and choke up.

Voice in my head #1: Stop crying asshole!
Voice in my head #2: Who is standing behind me? There are a lot of New Kids in here.
Voice in my head #3: Who writes a letter? 

Deep breath. Donnie holds my hand and starts rubbing my arm.

Voice #1: Touching! There’s touching!

The Danny part, as you could probably guess, involved both of our mothers dying of cancer, and I meant what I was saying, but that was a terrible subject to bring up. Why did I think I could get through that on a good day? So I completely start to ugly cry. It was bad news. All while the photographer is right in our faces snapping away.

“These photos are going to be a mess!” I say again. “Ok, no more sad. Sad part’s done.”

I look at the paper again. The paper says “Jordan.” “Where’s Jordan?” I say.

Answer: right next to me. Like, not even a foot away. Where did I think he was? I am reading like a second grader giving her first ever class presentation. [Look at paper] “Jordan.” [Look up, locate Jordan, make half second of eye contact, back to paper.] But I can’t look at them. I can’t. 

I have no memory of Jordan saying any words to me or hugging him at all. It may or may not have happened. Honestly no idea.
Looking at my paper, wiping my eyes, and most likely saying "These photos are going to be a mess."
Next is Jon. Ok, Jon’s not scary. But Joe is trying to read over my shoulder, and somehow that makes things worse. He is probably reading ahead. I want to tell him to stop reading ahead, because somehow this becomes a Big Deal in my head, but I can’t tell him that because then he won’t stand next to me. Also, why is he standing next to me? Can they just tell when someone is an X-girl? Is it like a sixth sense?

According to the photos I look like I am shaking Jon’s hand. Why? 

So I read Jon’s part, which ends with “I’m sorry I wrote you off in the 80s for being an old man, because I see how wonderful you are to my friends and I get it now.”

Donnie (or possibly Jordan): your older friends, right?

Voice #1: Well, I guess technically Karen is like 9 months older than me.
Voice #2: Just agree with them you idiot!
Actual voice: uhhh.

[Back to looking at paper.]

Donnie’s turn. This one is surprisingly very emotional and produces even more crying! Got to the last sentence and just gave up and decided to hug him instead.

Now here comes another surge of nerves that I didn’t even know I had because now I have to read the Joe part, and I don’t know if I can get the words out. Plus he is still reading over my shoulder, which, stop that! Really he had probably read it himself while I was back on Danny. But words come out of my mouth and I think they are mostly what I wrote down, even the extra embarrassing last line. Then he hugged me.

As a whole, this 5 minutes or however long it was were the best Joe hugs I have ever received. Maybe he’s been taking lessons from Jon.

Now I feel some sense of relief that I did it. “Done!” I think I said, the same way my child announces he is done eating.

“Photos!” says the photographer, who is probably thinking “bloody finally.”

I throw my paper on the floor and start wiping my eyes again. “These photos are going to be a mess!”

"These photos are going to be a mess!” is pretty much the theme of my ultimate.

We are standing Danny, Jon, Donnie, me, Jordan, Joe.

“No!” says Donnie. “She has to stand next to Joe.”

Great, I think, but Jordan needs to stay right here. Now what do I do? So I wordlessly grab both Jordan and Joe and shove them next to me. Smooth.

Danny sees the line is now uneven and sprints across to the other side of Jordan.

Snap. Snap. That’s it.

“Okay, bye.” I say. “Thank you.” And I pick up my paper and walk out. I am maybe 10 ft down the hall when I hear Donnie yell “Hey! Hey!” in the same way you would yell “Hey! That guy stole my wallet!” I keep walking.

One of the 7 other people in the room pulls me back to let me know that the “Hey!” was directed at me. Donnie runs over to the railing where I’m standing.

“That was good,” he says, and hugs me again.

“Okay,” I say, and leave.

20 ft down the hall I realize I forgot to tell them my name. I'm still a bit upset about this. For no good reason, because I'm sure they would have forgotten 3 minutes later. But it seems like an important detail, you know?

So that's that. As a postscript, I can't say thank you enough for all the kind words and messages yesterday and today. I felt completely supported and loved. I'm a lucky girl.


  1. I hope to one day have an ultimate as perfect and sweet as that. The pictures were amazing!

  2. I love every word of this.

  3. awesome!! What a great experience. Even if you were emotional, I bet you will never forget it.
    Though I am DYING to know what was on the paper!

  4. That was very awesome Katie, I know exactly what you mean about the New kid amnesia. Thanks for sharing that with us xox

  5. That was nice! It sounds imperfectly perfect! That is what they are all about. Thanks for sharing.

  6. That was one of the best meet and greet stories i've ever read. The time in M&G is a bit of a blur,you might not remember every detail but you'll always remember that feeling.

  7. aww how wonderful a story...despite all the crying and how touching the pics are ...what a wonderful experience!

  8. you should post up what you wrote to the guys on here..

    1. Noooooooo. No one will ever hear that except the 15 people in that room, and hopefully most of them weren't listening.

  9. Love, love, love your recap. I honestly teared up while reading it. What a wonderful & touching experience. Kudos to you for even doing it. I would love to do one, but in my wildest dreams, I know i'd never make it through one.
    Like someone already stated, it was Imperfectly Perfect!

  10. I love your story!! So wonderful!
    Had you timed out what you read to them and do you know how long it took?
    I have an ultimate in about a month and am trying to figure out how long I will have. Would like to say a few things to them and hopefully also have time for a few pictures.
    (and hopefully not cry, but whatever happens, happens!)

  11. Katie, I have your blog on my Google Feed, and finally read this tonight at work (and I'll probably spend the rest of the night reading all the other posts).
    I absolutely loved this! It's funny, because, while reading this, I had no idea who's blog I was reading (go figure). When I saw "Karen," I immediately thought "Kboop" but still was clueless. Even the Joe references went over my head. :)
    I'm glad you had such a great experience! One day...(maybe)...I'll get to do an Ultimate. (I need Biff's magic fingers to click the buy button, though...)
    I especially loved the reminded me so much of my interactions. And I do the same thing, forget the details but remember the feelings. Soooooo great!
    Miss you so much, Katie!

    1. Thank you Kim! It made me happy to see your name in my comments! Hope I get to see you soon, and that you get to do something like this!

  12. P.S. You're so brave!!! I was just trying to imagine being in the room with all of them, speaking, and it gives me panic attacks just thinking about it!! There's no way I could do it, I don't think! I can barely speak to JUST Jon; I can't imagine having all 10 eyes on me!!

  13. i am Just now reading this because .. well I heard about it but have not come on here. oh my goodnees. what a wonderful story. HAHAH girl i feel ya. sometimes you just wish the words would come out. If it helps Joe sang to me at my M&G in 2009 and i missed it. I thought i was going crazy so i kept on moving and my friend had to stop and let me know what happend. she said her name was shala for a minute.