22 February 2006


So I have a Mariah Carey story.

Not to break up the greatness that is the Spring Training photofest, but this is actually kind of funny.

Anyway, I work on 46th and 6th, in a building that is an entire block wide. I only mention this because, on a given night, depending where I'm headed, I can leave going east/ west on 46th OR 45th. When I'm headed straight for the subway, I hit 45th, as the entrance I navigate towards (to the "A" train) is on 44th street.

So I'm walking down 45th St.- I cross through Times Sq. every night, which is like trying to expeditiously make your way through a sea of drooling lobotomy patients. I cross over Broadway/ 7th Ave, and by this time, the whole day being over, my head is in the clouds. I'm thinking about whether Jose Reyes will ever develop into a decent hitter, whether Levon Helm or Robbie Robertson was "right," whether Brian DePalma was as great a director as he was made out to be. I could purchase an ounce of black tar heroin and not even realize it. I zone out.

So after crawling through the mass of humanity that is the MTV-Time Sq. area (the MTV building butts up against 45th and Broadway), I was in the "clear" of 45th St. between 7th and 8th Ave. No big shiney objects for zombies to clog the streets staring at. In my view ahead is a huge image of Harvey Fierstein slapping his leg from "Fiddler on the Roof," right above the entrace to the theatre it's playing in. Normally, as I pass this point, a sort of alleyway (without the dark, dank, dangerous connotations) opens up right in front of the new Ralph Fiennes play (extending to my left- south), and alongside the Shubert Theatre, home of "Spamalot." I cut through here onto 44th St. and walk over to my stop which is right along 8th Ave. This keeps me from going all the way to 8th Ave. on 45th and swinging back around.

So, as usual, I was transfixed by Fierstein, totally unaware of my surroundings. If I had been aware, I'd have realized, across the street, an oddly positioned gaggle of preteen girls, with their toothbrace elastics slapping. And I'd also notice, maybe, lurking in a few shadows like sloths or bats- poorly hygiened photographers, waiting with the sort of frustration that only comes with the realization of the irrelevance in the means and ultimate ends.

But I didn't notice, and by the time I was about 15 feet from Harvey's giant billboard-knee, I was almost immediately surrounded by said cameramen which, as unawares as I was, came as a great surprise and with a lot of confusion. It didn't matter, because I had next to no time to process the confusion- almost simultaneously, the girls began to shriek and siren and scream, as a sort of signal for all the pops of flash that came along with it. My brain picked itself up and dusted itself off and put itself to good use- this was the back exit for the MTV studios, I thought.

Just as I thought this, there she was, right in front of me. As tan-bronze as a bottle of Coppertone, facing behind a huge Jackeeyo-esque pair of sunglasses (545 PM, EST). Her hair was luminously, beautifully, voluminously fake, in a very attractive way. Almost a libidinous acknowledgment of some effort on her part. Mariah Carey was never a Rita Hayworth- but fuckin' hell if she didn't try to sex a "natural" girl like that out of your memory.

(A few years ago I was asked by a page from the David Letterman show if I wanted to see a taping. I'd been to four previous, but being in college and only having a skippable class in my way, I agreed and went alone, to a taping of the Late Show. Heather Locklear was on, and in person, was incalculably gorgeous. I mean, Heather Locklear- sure, why not. But in person? Astonishing. So, I was prepared for the phenomenon of being overwhelmed by beauty not filtered through a fourth wall, so to speak.)

So I was closer to her than you're probably imagining. She was surrounded by a baker's bodyguard dozen- guys who's necks popped and had fat they couldn't store on their bodies- so it rippled up their skulls. Also, they always look mad, these guys.

But somehow, on dumb luck, I'd positioned myself in the tailwind of their storm. They enveloped the front of her, worrying about the photographers, who weren't concerning themselves with the back of her which, let me tell you, from my point of view- was a fucking mistake. Yes, too- I was really close to her, by dumb luck, and I could have reached out and grabbed said ass without even breaking the bend in my arm. I could then have had my head blown clear off my body, too. I foresook the former in light of the latter.

But something had to happen- I went from zero to Mariah in mere moments. My functions, my impulses, my synapses fire. I ain't a robot. I was plaintive step away from Thuh Diva. Reaction was inevitable.

There went my mouth, and out popped the first thing I, apparently, thought of. I yelped "BUTTERFLY!"

You know, like the song. She was the butterfly.

I almost snickered sarcastically at myself. It barely rose above the din and the Hello Kitty alarm brigade across the street. I'm pretty sure, even despite my pretty decent size, that the bodyguards didn't even strain their necks my way. The photographers didn't acknowledge it, and nothing seemed to stop short like a needle dragging across a record. No one really noticed.

Except Mariah. Mariah, taking my for the sweet, pathetic, basement-dwelling type (not THAT far off the mark) of super fan that deserved a borderline patronizing recognition, turned her hips a bit and swooped her hand at her sunglasses. Pulling them down, I was struck at how easily this could have been an 80's teen movie, had it all ended with her and I jumping in the limo, driving through Manhattan standing through the sunroof, sharing a brownie sundae, and going home to her mansion and jumping all night on her huge inflatable jumping thing. She'd have that cos she's a big rich misunderstood celebrity. But then it'd get too serious, and she'd have to outline why it'd never work between us...

Nope, all Mariah did was pull those sunglasses down, look directly at me, smile... and wink. Mariah Carey winked right at me.

After she hopped in the car, a photographer said to one of his colleagues, sarcastically, "well, that was worth it." I nodded to myself, and laughed. It was all completely ridiculous. I don't even listen to her music.

Also- I said fucking butterfly?!

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