Meeting Incubus, Parts 1 & 2
Part 1: Aileen
In an earlier post, I said that the person who was supposed to go with me to meet Incubus in Las Vegas couldn’t make it, and if I couldn’t sell the other half of my meet & greet pass before leaving Miami, I’d have no choice but to wait until I got to the Hard Rock and just grab the first person I saw in an Incubus shirt. Within moments of my post, I got a message from someone on Tumblr who frequently likes and reblogs my Incubus-related content, and I hers. She told me she was traveling to Las Vegas from L.A. to see the show for her birthday, and would love it if I’d take her with me to meet the band. At that point, though, I still wasn’t ready to give up on the attempt to sell, because I’d really hoped to recoup at least some portion of the small fortune I was about to blow on this crazy Incubus adventure. But in the end I thought, “Screw it. It’s this girl’s birthday. Why not, for once, commit a random act of kindness and just give her the damn pass?” So we arranged to meet at will-call on the night of the show, and she turned out to be the loveliest young high-schooler named Aileen. As soon as her understandably concerned father looked me over to make sure I wasn’t some kind of cyber-pedophile, he allowed her to join me in the VIP line, and off we went to meet the men of Incubus.
Walking into the room and getting my first off-stage glimpse of them was nothing short of surreal. They’re all just adorable, and for a second my brain couldn’t quite process that it was really them. And then it all went by in a flash. The amount of time we got to spend in there was literally the few seconds it took each band member to introduce himself (as if that were necessary) and sign an autograph, but they’ve got this small talk thing down, and are experts at being chatty and charming in the most efficient way possible. Each one of them is a living doll, but without a doubt, the sweetest and most adorable of them all is Mike Einziger. I can’t explain it, but in the nano-second each of us spent with him, he managed to make us feel like he’d known us for years and we were best of friends. The whole experience was utterly awesome, but for me, by far, the best thing about it was seeing little Aileen having the time of her life. She interacted so naturally with each member of the band, and when she told them it was her birthday, they went out of their way to make her feel special. When it came time for the group photo, Mike said, “I’m going to stand next to Aileen because it’s her birthday,” and I know it must have been a dream come true for her. There really isn’t a price I could have put on that, and I knew at that moment that giving her the pass was the best thing I’ve ever done - not for someone else, but for myself. When we got back out into the hallway, Baelyn Neff walked by, looking very sprightly in a boho-chic poncho. Aileen ran up to her and they began to chat, and when I turned my head I could see them hugging. When I got back downstairs and found Aileen’s anxious Dad, I assured him she’d be along in a minute, and that she’d love him forever for bringing her there.
Part 2: Cake
Some people do drugs. I give cake. It’s what I do. And if I do say so myself, I give really good cake. I crank out loaves of this awesome stuff called Amish Friendship Cake (although I am in no way Amish), and I decided that the men of Incubus (Mr. Boyd especially) desperately need more cake in their lives. I seriously debated how silly it would be to bring some with me to the meet & greet, but in the end I chose to go for it. I was a bit concerned they might not let me bring it in, but I got it past security and ended up giving it to cuter than cute Chris Kilmore, the first person at the signing table. He seemed stunned and genuinely appreciative, and wrote “Thanks for the cake!” above his autograph. When I got to Brandon Boyd (sitting there in his “let’s boogie” t-shirt, denim jacket, and Woody Allen eyeglasses), I mentioned I’d brought a cake, and Chris slid it down the table to him. A bit predictably, he asked if I’d baked a file in it so they could all escape, then he looked at the label I’d put on the wrapper and read “Amish Friendship Cake” out loud, and I want to believe he was at least mildly intrigued by that. I then confessed that I’m the obnoxious person on Twitter who calls herself Vicky and keeps nagging him to eat more, but I think he was momentarily distracted by something someone else was saying and didn’t hear me. Probably just as well. He is, by the way, when you get right up in front of him, way too thin, and although I know the cake probably went straight into the trash (it’s got milk and eggs in it, so it’s hardly vegan, and I am a total stranger, after all), at least I tried, and I’m feeling very good about that. My only regret is that I failed to point out that the cake takes ten days to make. Seriously. Someone has to give you a “starter” made of fermented milk, flour, and sugar, and you have to let it sit for ten days, and then you divide it into three parts. To the first part, you add a bunch of other ingredients and then you bake it. The second and third parts become starters for more cakes, and you’re supposed to give one of them away to a friend (hence the name “Friendship Cake”).
But let’s get back to our darling Incuboys. Sitting between Chris and Brandon was the lovely and talented Ben Kenney. I didn’t quite know what to say to him, so I thanked him for doing these meet & greets, and remarked that it must get a bit tedious after awhile. He’s so soft-spoken, I could barely hear what he said. I think it was something like, “Not tonight,” which I thought was the perfect response. He signed his autograph backwards, which, in my mind, significantly increases its value, because later I saw an autograph he’d signed for someone else - not backwards - which means he doesn’t do that for everyone.
After Brandon came Mike, who is beyond irresistible. I told him how happy I am that he’s finally tweeting again, because I’d been getting ready to give him a hard time about that. He said, “Yeah, I had someone else doing it for me for the past couple of months, but I just got back into it.” I can’t decide if it’s a good or bad thing (probably good) that I didn’t try to say something brilliant and academic regarding the importance of online authenticity. Instead, all I said was, “Well, I’m so happy you’re back.” Brandon looked over and asked if we were talking about Twitter. (Had he heard my earlier remark after all?)
Last but not least was Josė Pasillas, who didn’t make eye contact, but was nonetheless attentive. I told him I’d been looking forward to meeting him, because I’m seriously considering taking up the drums in spite of my advanced age. I gave him my stupid line about how, when you get to be as old as me, all you want to do is beat things with sticks. “You’ll find out,” I said, and he assured me that drumming is “very therapeutic.”
After the group photo, it was time to say goodbye. I was standing near Mike, who was giving out hugs, and I surprised myself for being bold enough to ask if I could have one for being the oldest person in the room. He sweetly obliged, and then Brandon shook my hand and thanked me again for the cake. Whatever I said back to him must have sounded like gibberish, because by that time I was so overcome by such a concentrated amount of loveliness in such a small amount of space and time. Or maybe intoxicated is a better word, because now that I’m back home I’m beginning to feel that these meet & greets can be addictive, and I’m already dreaming about doing it again some day.
It wasn’t until much later that night that I was able to get a good look at all the autographs, and I started to think about where I’d hang the card if I had it framed. Since Chris, bless his heart, had actually included the word “cake,” I decided there’s only one right place for it: my kitchen.