I was not prepared for sitting in traffic on Monday morning, but the email specified, "Only Monday". I had to collect a 'prize pack' from the radio station and I knew that if I left it later in the day, it would take too long to go across to the south side of town. I thought about the post I could write this week, and contemplated on the amount of times I pen, "I won", but then came to the realisation that this, indeed, is all part of the life that I now live, as an Englishwoman Abroad!
The marvelous improvements that are being made to my perfect road are continuing, and although the residents of this great capital gave up 'holding their breath' for the completion, as we would have all collapsed with the added amount of time it has taken to finalise the project, we all live in anticipation of the wonder, and efficiency, that is promised! To add insult the injury, I saw that the latest 'proposition' to be voted upon is to have more of the same! For an extra five dollars a month on our property tax, we can (and I do NOT quote, but instead give my personal understanding, which is 'without prejudice') undergo more of the same turmoil for many years to come! However, I digress with my ranting!
Traffic was moving along, almost apologetically, and I finally came to the bridge that separates north from south, where the road works ceased, and the vehicles had the freedom to move at highway speed. Arriving at the radio station, a little after nine, my drawstring bag, bearing the name of the television company that promoted two particular shows, was handed through the partition at the reception desk, and I walked back to my car. I was now the proud owner of a t-shirt bearing the word "Empire", a pair of gold (no less) coloured earphones, an object that I would have to have its use explained to me, and a sweatshirt, with "Lethal Weapon" printed down the arm. (How appropriate!)
Most appreciative of my winnings, I hurtled back across the bridge, and then sat in the 'improvements' for half an hour, being overtaken by snails on the side of the road, and finally exiting onto the road that would take me to the office.
In need of a cup of strong coffee, I offered to make a pot for the office, and finally after supplying my work colleagues with said stimulant, I settled down to clear the pile of work that had accumulated during my absence, albeit an hour!
Storms had been raging throughout the night and the temperature had dropped considerably. Apart from the fact that the pool would probably be quite cold, there were a lot of electric storms surrounding the area, and it would not have been prudent to risk swimming. Instead, Samantha and I took a stroll to the post office. It was rather pleasant, and good exercise! Upon our return, I scanned my emails and opened one from a name that looked familiar. "We are having an exclusive lounge tomorrow with Charlie Puth, in our studios." I was invited, with a 'friend', who must be 15 years or older, and must send confirmation that I would like to attend by five o'clock that evening. I wrote back, thanking them for the invite, and confirming that I would be attending with my daughter, and that we were both over the age of consent! After pressing 'send', I politely asked my boss if it was okay to take a couple of hours off on Tuesday morning. "What have you won?" was the question, and I informed him of the exclusive invite!
"Charlie Puth" said Samantha, as her eyes widened. "A meet and greet? Where....show me". She followed me back to my desk and I opened the email. "Send it, send it!" she said, with great excitement. I informed her that my reply had already been sent, confirming our acceptance, and she hurried back to her work station.
Familiar with Mr. Puth, (without having to be played one of his songs,) I informed my son that we were going to the meet and greet. "Don't know him", said Richard in a message. I explained that he was the singer whom (I believe) wrote the 'Furious 7' tribute to the late Paul Walker. "Him!! Wow, now I know who you are talking about. You are going to meet him?" was the next message. Although I have enjoyed the many 'meet and greets', and have heard the artists on the radio after our introduction, this was the first time that I had actually heard of one before the meeting.
Coffee was made early on Tuesday, and the winners made their way across town to the radio station, and signed in, around ten fifteen, having been asked to arrive by 10:30 am. We were led back to the waiting room, which was already quite full. To our surprise, the usual suspects were not in attendance. We helped ourselves to some breakfast sandwiches, care of 'Schlotzky's', and were then entertained by the staff. We were going to play a game of 'beefs'. It was all about famous couples who were upset with each other for some reason. (We had all confirmed that we understood the term 'beef', but an explanation seemed to be compulsory!) The first couple were from the family whose last name begins with 'K', (which I will not even attempt to spell) and whose first names also appear to begin with 'K', all of whom, by choice, I have very little knowledge. However, my daughter is more au fait with this particular dynasty and answered the question correctly. The second question was about a couple who were having to split 'five children and twelve properties'. Perhaps the way the question was posed caused confusion, but I was the only one who put up my hand and answered. Mr Pitt and Ms Jolie was indeed correct, and my daughter and I were handed two tickets each to that evening's performance of 'The Newsies'. Unfortunately, I would not be able to attend, but she was rather excited, and said she would find a recipient for my tickets! It is always fun to win a prize when attending something that was won!
Shortly after the game, the usual suspects arrived. I wondered if they considered us to be the same! We half smiled, and nodded at each other, almost intimidated by each other's presence, as if we were not quite sure whether we should recognise each other.
"What time did you get here?", the young woman, who had seated herself next to me asked. I said that we had arrived at 10:15, earlier than planned, but we were unsure as to how the traffic was running, with the current 'improvements'. She said that they had arrived at ten thirty, as requested, and had waited to be escorted back. "What time did the game start", she barked, rather more abruptly, and with an edge of aggression that made me shrink back in my chair! When I told her that it was almost as soon as we had arrived, she turned to her companion and repeated what I had said, in rather an upset manner. I turned to Samantha and was about to indicate that although it is fun to win something else, this was a freebie and I would have been satisfied (yes, despite my competitive nature) to enjoy the morning. However, before I could verbalise my thoughts, the young lady growled once again, "What were the prizes?" I turned, and furnished her with all the details, which rather than placate her, appeared to fuel her fury!
"We need to get front seats", said Samantha, humourously, as the game host told us they were nearly ready for us to go into the 'studio'. I saw our acquaintance move over towards the door, and start a conversation with someone sitting by the exit. Although fairly near the door, we were not positioned very well to exit quickly, as we had to negotiate tables and chairs, that appeared to be put in front of us at every move. However, the adrenaline had kicked in, and 'mother' was going to provide her 'chick' with the 'fodder' that she required. As the sofa facing the stage was being sat upon, I espied the side seat which was nearer to the stage, and almost skated past the people who were pushing each other out of the way for the stools behind said sofa. It was more by luck than judgment that I did not send the spotlight stand and speaker crashing to the floor, as they wobbled dramatically after I knocked them out of place to arrive at the space I had chosen to sit. Falling into the chair (which seems to be the 'thing' I now do!) I watched as Samantha made her way, cautiously, patiently, politely around the other attendees, shaking her head at her mother's manoeuvres. The light and speaker slowly stopped shaking, and we all waited for the entrance of the star.
"You were at the other meet and greet", said our acquaintance, as we sat waiting. I nodded and confirmed that, indeed, we were. "Did you see her in concert?" was responded to in the negative. I didn't win tickets to that. I didn't see the contest! I then realised that she had bought tickets to the show, and sometimes (just sometimes) that is what people, like us, (grouped in together) do! How bizarre!
I was very impressed by the young man who appeared on the set, not least because he said that he speaks to his mother every day! The host of the show announced that as they were recording the interview on their Facebook page, there were no restrictions on us taking photographs or videos, which we (obviously) did. We were treated to a few songs, and an interview, and the young man with 'perfect pitch' made us laugh with stories from his past. His personality and sense of humour were most enjoyable. There was no doubt as to why he was so successful, as his talent shone through. After the show we were asked to 'hold tight' as he was led behind the stage to autograph some photos and then we were asked to line up for an introduction and a picture. "Love the hair", said the young man to my daughter, who sports a bright red hue. All I could do was say, "Pleased to meet you", and "I am so glad you speak to your mother every day". I am usually so much more rehearsed at these events. However, the charming youngster smiled, and posed for our photograph.
On our way back to the office, I had to visit a law firm who had asked us to pick up some papers to serve, and I chatted to the receptionist who asked me if I was having a good day. He had detected an accent and said that he was at University with a couple of people from England. He remarked on how his friends would talk about the difference between the two countries, and how there were things that they could do here that they would never do at home. I laughed, and agreed. After all, I would never have gone to a 'meet and greet at home'. (Dropping the name Charlie Puth into the conversation, oh so nonchalantly.) As is often the case, he longed to visit England and see the difference for himself. I suggested that he probably should take the opportunity should it arise, and found myself rambling on about the glory of my homeland. He could not understand why I, nor the others he had met, had ever left, and why we should want to stay in Austin! I explained that despite the advantages of our adopted county, most of us were patriots at heart!
It was nearly lunchtime by the time we arrived back at the office, and I worked through until it was time to leave and prepared dinner for my Tuesday night soiree. Samantha had posted our picture online, and our friend Ellie (who resides in New Zealand) commented that she had just bought his CD and was playing it as Samantha posted. She said that they never have things like that in NZ, and I repeated that I had never heard of them at home.
The 'meet and greet' was enough to keep me smiling through the week, and by Saturday morning, I was wondering what next week would have in store. Our shopping duo became a foursome, as Sandra, Samantha's neighbour, and her niece, joined us. We sang, loudly, to the 'seventies' station in the car. Chic came on the radio, and then Chicago, reminding us of other prizes I had won. Fun times! We misbehaved in all of the stores, (or perhaps just acted 'age inappropriately',) forming four link chains, passing edible samples along from one to another in Costco, and 'stealing' the shopping cart from one another in Walmart. I felt half the age of the great Mr Puth! We delighted the young lady at the checkout, who remarked, "I love your accent. I wish I had an accent", when we told her that she did have an accent. Her face lit up and she called to her supervisor. "They say I have an accent!" I think it was the five toothy grins, that forced the supervisor to smile, as she appeared to find the comment rather futile!
Considering I had no plans following my experience at Comic-con last weekend, I felt as if my week had been extraordinarily full! Wearing my 'Lethal Weapon' sweatshirt, as the temperature has cooled slightly, I felt as if I can take on the world (although I fool no one I am sure!). I found out that the 'object' that was part of my prize pack, was for my phone. It could be used as a stand, a 'handle' or a suction force should I wish to stick it somewhere. (No answers on postcards necessary!) With all of the above, and my golden earphones, I feel as if I can flash my way forward into next week, and .............. another story!