Shannon Ingram's Place

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Location: Orange County/CA

Musings of a woman who left her corporate career to become a caregiver for elderly parents, wrote a book and found her way back to corporate - with love, instead of fear, leading the way. Now working at my Alma Mater, UC Irvine, as Marketing and Communications Director for the School of Biological Sciences.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dancing with a Dork

My close friends will never let me forget a misstep I took around the time I turned 40. I went to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl with my good friend and Disney co-worker, Char. We got the tickets from a director who couldn't go. I'd heard of the performer, but didn't really know what to expect. We bought some sandwiches and wine to take inside with us, but of course we had to leave the wine behind. I didn't care because it was so much fun to be back at a concert. I hadn't been to one in five years.

The opening act was an unknown, Celine Dion. She electrified the crowd with her vocal range. And then came the main performer, a charismatic singer with a soulful voice, and the most amazing long blond curly hair. We had fantastic seats close to the stage and he came out into the audience and stood in the aisle at our row, where he literally sang to me and Char. I fell under a spell.....It was as if I was the enchanted princess in a Disney movie. Little did I know it was a bad fall.

By the end of the concert, he was my hero. By the next day, he was my obsession. I went online via Prodigy to seek information about this captivating figure. I found out where he came from, where he lived now, all about his love life, his children, his music, his love of baseball. He was playing in a charity softball game in LA the next day. I knew I had to go there. Char and I went together. We cheered for him and even clapped for his girlfriend, a TV starlet.

On Prodigy, I found a group of women from all over the country who were fans of this same musician. We formed a little group of 30 and 40-somethings who loved the man and his music. Some of us were married. Some of us were soccer moms. Some of us were single. Most of us were employed. One of us even worked for Sony records. All of us were smitten.

In the midst of my second childhood of fan zeal, I left my Disney job. My husband and I moved to Colorado. My online friends stayed with me. We had created a sisterhood. I traveled to other states to meet up with them and together we attended concerts in various cities. It's hard for me to admit that I once drove alone from a concert with friends in St. Louis to a business meeting in Kansas City and then to join friends for another concert in Peoria. Pathetic...but incredibly fun, adventurous and basically harmless back then. I doubt I'd ever have "played Peoria" if it hadn't been for those groupie days.

About 20 of my Prodigy fan club pals gathered in Denver for a concert. We knew where the band was staying and the girls from out-of-state booked rooms there. To make it even more silly, I had made a friend, Jean, at my new workplace who liked this guy's music too. Another friend in PR thought our little fan club was hilarious. She contacted a reporter at the Rocky Mountain News and suddenly Jean and I were doing an interview about people who formed fan clubs online. The reporter found a life-size cardboard cut-out of the entertainer and brought it to us for a photo op. Needless to say, our picture was in the paper and it found its way to every wall in every office in our building. It was a great joke and yes, Jean and I laughed. We were good sports, although I admit I was a teeny bit embarrassed.

My husband took all this childishness very well. He thought it was funny. One of our coworkers made key rings for Jean and me with a photo of the guy with all the hair. Best of all, we spent the entire night before the Denver concert playing pool in the bar with members of the band, minus the star. The band guys got a big kick out of our being the old girl groupies from the newspaper.

By now, you have probably guessed that the object of our affection was Michael Bolton. Unfortunately, the story doesn't end with the key rings, giggles and playing pool with the band in a bar. Instead, it ended with a sour turn of events.

After the Denver gig, our bouyant girl group bought tickets to a big charity benefit featuring Michael Bolton and Kenny G at my former place of employment in Anaheim. We paid big bucks to sit at a table close to the stage. Truthfully, we didn't want or expect anything other than the enjoyment of applauding for our favorite singer. But tragically, one of the Prodigy girls lost her husband three weeks before the benefit concert. She lived on the East Coast. We were devastated by her sudden sorrow, her children left fatherless. She canceled her trip to Anaheim. Yet our online group of friends was united in support for her and we found a way to bring her out to California for the big event in spite of her loss.

Long story short, after the concert during which Kenny G played his saxophone to the girls at our table, we tried to contact our hero, Michael Bolton, to ask if he could simply say hello to our newly widowed friend on the phone - a kind of "Time, Love and Tenderness" gesture to support her in the grief process. I was the one who finally got him on the phone, with all my new Prodigy friends huddled around me. I told him about our friend and that we were "older gals" who didn't want to jump his bones, or even do a "meet and greet." I quickly and passionately shared with him about our online fan club (a big deal in 1993) and our friend's tragic loss. We knew he had his girlfriend there with him and didn't mean to bother them. I said, "All we want is for you to say a quick hello to her." I asked if I could put her on the phone for a moment.

The dork said no. I asked one more time, even more politely. Bolton said, "No, I'm gonna hang up now. Don't bother me again or I'll call Security." Of course I said - nicely - that I knew all the Security people at the hotel and they could vouch for these nice, harmless ladies. He said something really mean and hung up on me.

The dozen or so women in the suite were as stunned as I was. We shared our disappointment and some girls made excuses for his denial of our request. Eventually, we all went to brunch, as planned, and then we left before the late check-out time we'd been given by the hotel. We bid farewell to each other in the porte-cochere and then we all went back to our lives, abandoning the Prodigy group and never connecting again. It was like the end of a Disney fairy tale. Except this time the prince turned out to be the villain.

Two years later, my own husband died of a sudden heart attack. I found myself in the same situation that my Internet friend had been in when we were Bolton fans together. When a Bolton song came on the radio, it stung instead of soothed me. I always switched to another station.

When I found love again, I made sure we never listened to Michael Bolton songs. My new husband knew the Bolton fan story so when we did happen to hear "Soul Provider," usually in an elevator, he relished teasing me by saying, "Ohhhhhh Miiichaaael" in a weird, high-pitched voice that made me cringe.

Welcome back to "Dancing with the Stars." Michael Bolton crawled out of a dog house tonight. Watching his expression when Bruno gave him a "3" took me back to that hotel room many years ago when he refused to say hello to the widow. What causes celebs to make decisions like that, to ignore a harmless request from good fans and wreak such disappointment? It was as if that lame decision on his part came back to haunt him, to haunt me on tonight's show, thank you, Bruno.

Poetic justice? Maybe. Sad to say, but I'll be glad when he's voted off the show and back into the dog house.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

We LOVE Silverado-Calabasas

Please check out this wonderful video my team did for our beloved Calabasas community - residents, family members, professional partners and associates!