Thursday, April 25, 2013

{friday night: a fancy party and an awkward encounter}

I changed dresses five times and had a little spat with my full-length mirror before walking out the door on Friday night. I feel like, somewhere along the line, all of the other girls in the existence of the universe took secret evening classes on how to dress up for fancy events. How to get their hair right and how to make their faces look that way and all that stuff. Where was I?

Probably off in a corner reading books and eating lasagne.

Probably worth it at the time. Except for that now I'm an adult and I don't know how to dress myself or do my hair.

I'm usually ok with it. Because the kinds of parties I usually go to are full of close friends wearing jeans (or weird costumes, on special occasions), eating junk food and being generally chill. But this invitation-only party didn't seem like it was going to be that way. The email I received said, and I quote:

"The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences hosts the 2013 JUNO Welcome Reception... The event will feature performances by 2013 JUNO Award nominees Colin James and Joel Stouffer (Dragonette), as well as appearances by special guests. This event is the official kick off to JUNO Weekend, welcoming 1200 artists, industry members and guests to enjoy sensational musical entertainment, cocktails and hors d'oeuvres."

So, no jeans or weird costumes, basically. CRAP. 

I've heard that black dresses are safe, so I ended up wearing one of those. I met the team at the RCMP Drill Hall (where the party was being held) at 5:30, checked in at the media desk, and we headed off to the bathroom to check our hair. Because that's one of the things girls learned to do at those secret beauty classes. I glanced briefly at my reflection. Whatever. At least I'm not wearing a weird costume. 

We didn't know what to do next, so we did another girl thing and took a picture of our feet. (I'm the one on the bottom, in the tan wedge sandals.)
 photo 8C073805-9A03-4694-8AF5-98935F7CF49C-2193-00000124ABFE7F49_zpse1d87741.jpg
Thankfully, the press was called soon, and we took our places at the green carpet to watch the important people come strutting through, pausing at points so that we could take their pictures. It was here, surrounded by flashing bulbs and the incessant pressing-in of bodies around me, that I noticed something interesting.
 photo F3A1CD66-9A1D-44F6-86A4-A7F95ACEFABD-2193-000001248733EA4A_zpsda5d4e28.jpg There were no fans here, because this was a press and VIP only event, so there was no cheering as nominees strode onto the carpet. Only the click and pop of cameras, the occasional shout ("Over here, Miss Duffield!" "Right here at this camera, guys!" "Fabulous!") from the media side, and the whispers in my ears every time a new person rounded the corner: "Is that anyone?"
 photo 65940A89-DF71-44D9-9557-B0CE0F6F3291-2193-0000012481050EC7_zps78916c65.jpg What they meant, of course, was, "Is that anyone famous? Is that anyone important? Is that anyone I should know about? Should I take their picture?" But what they said was, "Is that anyone?" And someone else would reply in a loud hiss, "No, that's [so-and-so]'s fiance and her son," and down went the cameras and the Not-Anyones would hurry awkwardly down the green carpet and into the party and we would wait for the next Someones to come through.
 photo CB43B1F0-20CA-4459-ADCB-396E6AAA1E72-2193-000001248C58DC69_zps46f1b713.jpg Sometimes, a Not-Anyone would pause in front of the JUNO wall and strike a silly pose, joking, "Aren't you going to take my picture?" No one would respond, and the Not-Anyone would learn their lesson the embarrassing way: You are Not Someone. Worse yet: you are in the way of someone who is Someone.

Not that this is by any means something new to anyone, least of all me. It just hit me in a different way when I was standing in a group of Less-Thans clamouring to photograph the Someones and ignoring the Not-Anyones. This is ridiculous, I decided. I threw a genuine smile at a Not-Anyone as she hurried along the gauntlet and she smiled back. She held my gaze until she was safely out of the way.

This became the recurring theme of the weekend. More on that later.
 photo E82E661E-ACA3-4C90-BC00-D1EF02F4891A-2464-0000015C50E0BB95_zps89713971.jpg Anyway, then the green carpet wrapped up and the party started. We walked it ourselves, sans awkward media line, and ended up in a room full of Someones and their dates and PR people and industry people and host committee people and waiters carrying silver platters containing drinks and tiny weird food.
 photo D8C3CF5A-7BA3-4B16-81A6-EF8BF92F7029-2193-0000013B59EC5F14_zps799c9a43.jpg  photo 634371E5-8876-4C9B-AD1D-4D3F4DD5B74D-2193-00000124A25E8AA9_zps9bdb76ae.jpg
I got separated from my group for a bit and kept running into people I only recognized from music videos and HMV posters. I took food from every silver tray that floated past. The music was so loud that I could feel it in my ribs. I felt completely anonymous and I loved it. Then I caught up with my girls and we played repeated games of Think of a Celebrity and Then Go Find Them and Eat AALLLLLLL the Hors D'Oeuvres. Hard games in high heels.
 photo 13E23FA6-47DB-46A9-9135-95C638A19D0F-2193-00000124A74CB641_zps05611e2e.jpg When I was completely full of cheese puffs and tiny meatballs and had had my share of sneaky celebrity encounters, I headed home to change into uniform for my next assignment: JUNOFest.

JUNOFest was a two-day festival featuring 100+ bands at something like 30 venues in and around the city. My job was to drive to each venue, tweet about how long the lineups were and take pictures of the bands for the JUNO host committee's Instagram account. Barclay and I teamed up for this part, which was pretty fun.

He'd drop me off at a venue, drive around the block while I got the pictures, and pick me up again when I was done. Parking would've been impossible otherwise.
 photo 04955F2D-427F-4306-AE52-84ADCE2705D3-2464-0000015E415F2F35_zpse3f6f2ca.jpg At one point in the night, we split up for a tad longer so I could stay for some Two Hours Traffic and were going to meet up again on the corner of Vic and something-or-other. In front of that church. The white one.

It was dark and getting late and I was walking quickly, texting Barclay that I was on my way, trying to bypass a rowdy group of tipsy adults, when a figure loomed out of the shadows and I stopped short to avoid running into it. The man, who also appeared to be texting someone, didn't seem to see me--until his phone slipped from his fingers and smashed to the ground at my feet.

He dropped to a knee to gather the pieces, muttering and swearing under his breath, shaking his head. And then he saw my toe, and then he saw my knee, and then he stood up suddenly, clutching his broken phone and breathing quite hard, and I was face to red, out-of-breath face with Michael Buble.

The extravagant SUV limousine parked to my right should've been the first giveaway that a celebrity was in the vicinity, I guess.

He didn't smile, so I didn't smile back. And he didn't say anything, so I didn't say anything back. We had a hilarious awkward silence. I'm not a fan, so I didn't feel the need to gush or lose my mind or anything. I don't know why I didn't just step around him and let him go on his way. I don't know why he didn't just step around me and let me go on my way. We waited but I didn't know what we were waiting for. And then I found out what we were waiting for.

He looked confused. He opened his mouth, staring hard at me, and said, "I'm Michael Buble." 

Not, "Hey, I'm Michael." Not like an introduction. Not in a friendly tone, or with a question mark at the end so that I could say my name next. Just, "I'm Michael Buble." He said it in that tone of voice that you use when you're saying something that you think is obvious to someone that you think is dumb. He said it with a frown. As though he didn't know why I wasn't falling at his feet or screaming or crying or something. As though I were taking this golden opportunity for granted.

So then I stopped waiting because if that was what we were waiting for, we would've been there a long time. I'd had it up to here (I'm holding my hand at eye level) with the whole Someone Not-Anyone Less-Than thing. I stepped around him and found Barclay waiting in the car a block away. I flung open the passenger door and burst out laughing.

"I just ran into Michael Buble," I said.

"You're sure it was Michael Buble?" Barclay asked.

"Oh yes," I said. "He made sure I knew it."