David was plainly exhausted and admitted, finally, that he hadn’t been feeling well. He had given up dairy due to its phlegmatic properties (“but it’s also acidic,” he explained, “it’s weird”), but he had apparently fell off the wagon (see, he really is human). “I need to get off it again,” he said.
When we first walked into the small, windowless room that had been designated for the meet-and-greet, David and Kristy Lee were hovered around the wall-mounted monitor watching the Olympic men’s swimming finals. They had clearly been following the contest and were invested in the proceedings. Sayehsa was perched on a chair, like royalty (but with none of the attitude), and communicating silently to save her voice. She is an amazingly beautiful woman in person, and her performance of Listen was off the hook, incredible. The rest of the kids were there, too, except for David Cook and Michael Johns. Michael showed up later and had everyone laughing in about thirty seconds. Jason is a sweetheart, and mentioned how difficult it is to sleep on the bus. Cook never made an appearance.
I had been so taken with Kristy Lee that I approached her first, when she was between fans.
“Kristy, listen,” I said, a bit conspiratorially, “don’t take this the wrong way because you’re not at all my type if you catch my drift but how freaking hot are you?”
She beamed at me and laughed. She is utterly gorgeous.
“And I mean, in every possible way,” I continued, “you absolutely owned that stage, you were amazing. I could have watched you all night.”
She seemed genuinely happy to hear it and gracious in her gratitude. We talked for bit about the Olympics, but I had a hard time hiding the fact that I was being distracted by watching David interact with his fans. The first thing you notice about him (even on stage, but more so up close), no matter how many images you’ve seen of him, is how small he is. I mean, the kid is downright diminutive. Then, you notice his skin. It is pretty much a miracle, any human’s dream.
Now, I’m not going to sugar-coat it and say that I didn’t get the feeling from watching him that he wouldn’t have rather been snuggled up in bed watching the Olympics, and that there wasn’t a distinct sense of obligation underway, but I am also one-hundred-percent certain that not one of the people who went up to him had even the slightest notion that he wasn’t precisely where he wanted to be at that very moment. He has an uncanny ability to be extremely generous while maintaining a certain reserve. And you can only really see it if you are not engaged with him, because when you are, he has you hook, line and sinker.
When there was finally a lull in the que, I made my move.
“You’re so good to them,” I said.
He looked at me and smiled. “Oh, thanks,” he said, with a sincerity that made me believe he really appreciated the observation.
“So listen, I write about you.” I said, somewhat tentatively.
“Yeah, you know, I have this blog… Your dad knows about it, I think he tells people to read it.”
“Yeah. But you don’t have to read it. I think I’d be embarrassed.”
He laughed, really gently. “Oh, no….”
“So, I know you hear a lot about how people enjoy your work and everything, but I really just wanted to tell you one of the reasons that, to me, makes you so special.”
That’s when I got the eyes. Like enormous saucers they lock onto you, and the world disappears. The only reason I have any idea what came out of my mouth next is because I had planned what I was going to say and I have a vague recollection that something resembling my intention was communicated. Otherwise, it is sealed up in Archieworld, never to be retrieved.
I think I tried to speak slowly, for emphasis.
“David, beyond everything else–the sound of your voice, your mad skills–you have impeccable taste. I don’t mean in picking songs–I mean, you pick great songs, too–but the discrimination you show in your musical choices, what you decide to do–and not do–with the skills you have.”
He didn’t say a word. He just beamed at me with a face so open that you could swim in it.
“I was really reminded of it when you sang The Long and Winding Road and Randy was all, ‘Yo, dude, you know, that’s where you can take some liberties, do some runs, work it out, dawg.”
He smiled generously at my horrendous impression.
“But I’m watching and thinking, ‘No! That’s what makes you so smart–that you could have done all of that but had the good sense and the good taste not to.”
He didn’t say “Oh my gosh,” he didn’t say “wow,” he didn’t say anything. He just kept looking at me. I took a liberty and put my hand on his shoulder and sort of rubbed his arm with a kind of parental affection.
“Don’t ever lose that.”
I moved to step away and allow him an audience with the trio of young girls who had started hovering.
With his eyes still locked on me he said rather quietly, “Thank you.”
Josie was right behind me as I turned around, and sort of frantic. “What did you say? What did you say?” She had a look on her face that I took to be alarm.
“Why?” I asked, getting a little concerned.
“Because! The way he was looking at you! My god! I took pictures!”
I burst out laughing. “You took pictures of him while I was talking to him?”
“Yes! You should have seen him!”
“Oh, I did. I did.”
Tomorrow: Meeting Jeff.