Meeting my favorite celebrity has been on my bucket list, and earlier this summer I did it. My boyfriend dumped me for a guy he cheated with, so I decided to go out on a limb, blow $400, travel to New York City and see Woody Allen, the real love of my life, play with his Jazz band.
Having resisted some bizarre impulses of heartbreak, I proposed the trip idea to my friend, Allison, who lives in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She was more than happy to give me a place to stay, show me around her hometown and introduce me to her family and friends.
On the day the journey began, my mother dropped me off at the Dayton airport. I am terrified of flying. A bad flight brought on my phobia and I have not been able to shake it since. Furthermore, I was flying by myself for the first time, which resulted in me tearing up about my fear to the old man sitting next to me.
That night I stayed with my Pennsylvanian family. The night was perfect — just cool enough to sit outside and discuss life with people I love but hardly ever get to see.
The following day, I made my way to Wilkes-Barre. Between arriving in Allison’s hometown and heading to New York, I explored the area and made some new friends.
Later in the trip, we loaded up the car, drove to Manhattan and spent the day strolling around Central Park and Fifth Avenue. With two hours to spare, we hurried to our room to freshen up, which included some mental preparation for myself. You see, I have loved Woody Allen for years, because of his witty humor, creativity and versatility as a writer and his nerdy yet endearing sense of self. I spazzed at the thought of being in the same room as him. Luckily, I calmed down before we caught our cab.
We were the first people to arrive at The Carlyle, a luxury hotel, which includes a bar where Woody would be playing. I made sure we would get there early, so we could snatch the seats closest to the stage. Apparently, I gushed about my geeky crush to the reservationist when I booked the tickets, because they seated us right up front.
The pre-show dinner was the best thing I have ever eaten: lobster bisque, foie gras, sole, champagne and the richest chocolate I have encountered. Honestly, I hardly touched the dessert, because that was when the band entered.
Everyone has felt her heart flutter when someone likeable is near. Well, mine was going so quickly, it nearly went out.
The concert began and the bliss lasted for about an hour, with Woody playing clarinet and occasionally singing scat.
When the music ended, he walked right by me and I tapped him on the shoulder.
"You played beautifully," I said, trying to remain calm, cool and collected.
"Oh, thank you!" he responded, before heading for the door.
I turned to Allison, squealing like a little girl about how I touched his shoulder.
"We didn't drive all the way out here for just that!" she exclaimed before grabbing my arm and following him.
We stepped outside, where a crowd of people was gathered, all wanting autographs. I don't remember hearing anything but Allison telling me to push my way through the crowd and ask for a picture. I weaseled my way up to him and asked. He agreed and started talking to me! Woody Allen started talking to me, out of all the people around him!
"Where are you from?" he asked in a very shy and sweet manner, while putting his arm around me for the photo.
"Cincinnati," I said, surprisingly calm.
"Wow! You came a long way!"
We chatted for a little while before he went on his way. When he left, Allison and I made our way back to the bar. I was drunk with adoration and stupefied with excitement. The other band members were still around and we hung out with them for a while. The next morning, we got breakfast and explored Soho and the Village, the perfect follow-up to a fantastic evening.
The night I met Woody, I couldn't calm down. I was riding the coattails of an enormous adrenaline rush and thinking about the laws of the universe. It struck me that the best day of my life resulted from an impulse that was due to the most difficult thing I have experienced.
After some thought and discussion with my best friend, I came to realize the trip and its events resulted from moves I made. From the breakup, I learned to make decisions for myself, rather than worrying about satisfying the wants of another person. If I had not have been dumped and depressed, none of this would have happened.
In the words of the ever-wise Woody Allen, 80 percent of success is showing up. Yeah, well, I was just showing up and feeling mildly successful for the longest time. After everything negative that happened, though, I decided not to sulk and put in an extra 20 percent.
If you're not doing it now, I suggest you try it. Since my new method of living began, I have had the best time, making wonderful new friends, taking more than a healthy amount of risks and having the greatest summer of my life.
CONTACT BRIDGET JOHNSTON: [email protected]