Meeting Michael

by Jayne Childs

We arrived at the PBS studio in Detroit at 5:30 pm.  Several fans were already there.  Some I immediately recognized from the Austin Ballfest and others I was introduced to and knew who they were from their postings.  The atmosphere was positively electric.  Michael was coming.  I had driven 300 miles that morning I was in the studio and I still didn't believe it was happening.

I had noticed the people I had arrived with had drifted over to the studio floor entrance so I joined them.  Seconds later we were asked to enter and find a seat and we found ourselves in the first row.  I was directly across from a table that looked like a perfect place to interview a certain blue-eyed English singer.  I was thrilled when the women who would be doing the interviewing appeared and stationed herself there.  Her name was Diane and she was warm and friendly and totally amazed that so many of us had driven so far to see Michael.

After an all too brief instruction period on how to use the phones and take pledges we began.  The first 2 hours were mostly news programs and I took several pledges and informed all my callers to be sure to tune in at 9pm if they wanted a treat.  All the while the clock is slowly ticking by and I was sure at one point it had stayed at 8:30 fior several hours.  Finally Fred (the station manager) came out and told us Michael was in the building.  I am not quite sure how you can continue functioning when your heart is racing and your blood pressure soaring but I somehow managed.  Fred also informed us that Michael would be delighed to sign autographs and pose for pictures. 9 pm finally arrived and we could see the RAH video playing on the television monitors.  We knew Michael would come in after Gethsemane and when he started to sing it the studio became very quiet.  After the song Diane came out and talked a few moments about Michael and then said to the camera "And we have Michael in our studio and here he is."  He entered to a sea of applause and screams and I suddenly had an ear to ear grin which I am afraid remained on my face for the rest of the night.  I couldn't believe it.  Suddenly there he was six feet in front of me.  I could see those gorgeous blue eyes and that great smile.  Dimples were orking overtime and he looked so trim. Suddenly there was a loud shrill and I was confused for a moment until I realized my phone was ringing.  "Oh no." I thought, "I can't possibly talk on the phone right now.  However I was surprised to find on the other end of the phone a delightful elderly gentleman whose exact words to me were "I think that young man could singlehandly change music in this country.  He is better then the Rat Pack."  He made a generous donation and said he was so glad he had stayed tuned in.  By this time Fred was speaking alone to the camera so Michael was standing by the desk just looking around.  I waved and he winked back at me and I thought if that is the most contact I have with him all night I will be happy.  Silly me. Michael came over and we chatted with him and he seemed truly surprised that we had traveled such great distances to see him.  He left but promised to be back to sign autographs and pose for pictures. 

The next part of the video aired and then pledge time came and Michael was back.  It was so great to watch him being interviewed.  He has a quick wit and I think could win anyone over in a matter of minutes.  My phone rang quite a bit all with people pledging and giving positive reviews of Michael.  The break ended and we started lining up for our promised pictures with Michael.  We were last in line as it started with the 3rd row and I was starting to panic.  The next pledge break was going to start and I was nowhere near the front.  Michael had to stop to return to the pledge bread and must have seen how disappointed we looked because he whispered "later
later".  Michael said he would love to answer phones and a minute later he and Diane were standing directly behind me.  My phone rang first and he took the call.  After handing me back the phone he moved down the line.  Another girl called and asked me if Michael was really in the studio.  He was working his way back so I said to her "Yes he is.  Would you like to talk to him?"  She said "sure."  So I turned around and said "Michael can you speak to Norma?"  He said "of course" and bent down to speak on the phone.  The video started again and we were back in line.  I got him to autograph 2 pictures, one for myself and one for my mom.  Then I handed my camera to Phil Bowdery who was kind enough to be the camera man for everyone.  Michael put his arm around my shoulder and I put mine around his waist.  I laid my head on his shoulder (seemed the right thing to do at the moment) and prayed the camera worked.  It did. After I said thank you I then asked if I could have a kiss.   I said it so softly I doubted at first if he heard me.  But then there was that dazzling smile and  I heard him say "sure", and he kissed me on the cheek.  I am afraid I was useless the rest of the night.

Well it ended as quickly as it had began.  Michael was gone but I had enough memories to last a lifetime. The evening was special.  A major factor in the evening however was the great company we were all keeping with ourselves.  Michael Ball fans are the best
and most generous people.  Thanks to Nancy who is now my official Michael Ball field trip roomie. To Darlene who if there ever is a Michael Ball Museum she will be the curator.  To Terri and Jill who listened to my constant chattering which kept me calm.  To Sharon and Blair who made us Austin ballfesters so proud when they showed Michael what we had raised for ROC.  To Martha and Rich who are the opitime of a Michael couple.  To Sandra who went out of her way to find me on the list just because she had some great shots
of me with Michael and wanted to send them to me.  To Norma and Deb and everyone else who was there.  I apologize if I forgot anyone.  And an extra big thank you to my husband Fred who is so supportive of my "hobby." Thanks Jill for giving me that definition. 

I will never forget my night at the Detroit PBS as long as I live.  Now on to London.

04/09/2004 14:32

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