This experience is in true If You Give a Mouse a Cookie form, only I'm not a mouse, and the cookie certainly wasn't given to me. Cue the less successful spin-off of If You Dangle a Cookie on a String in Front of a Mouse, and well, you'll get what the the first half of March looked like for me.
Hanson in Charleston is almost as good as Hanson in my backyard. I don't live there now, but I spent the last four years of my life attending college there and falling in love with the city, and I still make frequent trips back to visit friends. To add to this awesomeness, 98.9 Chick FM was my favorite station in the area when I lived there, too. My favorite people in my favorite city hosted by my favorite radio station? Yes, please! The only problem? The appearance was only open to 30 contest winners, and the only way to win was to listen to 98.9 and call in at the right time. Being the determined fan that I am, I immediately emailed Dominica, one of the radio hosts, and asked for details. Tickets could be won from 6-9 AM and 3-6 PM. Guess who listened to the radio at 3 hour increments every time tickets were given away. The fact that I had to listen every time should probably tell you that I didn't have that immediate luck I'm somehow used to having.
After being caller #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 multiple times (but never the necessary caller #9), I finally got lucky the day before the show. Moms in the Morning decided to do something a little different for tickets that day. Instead of waiting for caller #9, they decided to play the "Duh Uh" game, a game requiring the contestant to speak for 20 seconds on a random assigned topic without saying "duh" or "um" or making any really long pauses. As soon as I heard those directions, I knew I had it in the bag. As a senior in college, I took an introductory theatre class. One day as I sat dying along with the English language as a fellow classmate delivered a speech where approximately 50% of her vocabulary consisted of "like," our professor made up a new rule. Any time a student said the word "like," "um," or anything unimportant to the meaning during a presentation, we as a class were to clap once. So when this girl was, like, describing how the lighting was like, super bright and like how her set was like totally amazing, we all clapped and felt some severe secondhand embarrassment. This went on for every. single. person. and a very painful class period. Somehow, I managed to be the last to present. And somehow, I also managed to be the only person in the class who didn't throw in any extra words. This is how I knew the "duh uh" game was meant for me.
So when I called in at the prompt and heard "Hello! You're caller number two. Caller number one wasn't able to complete the challenge. Are you ready?" I really wasn't surprised. When I voiced that I like to eat ketchup on my "um, hamburgers and hot dogs," I was surprised and furious with myself (note to reader--I was told to speak about ketchup. I'm not THAT random). I hung up and tried again, only to be met with a busy signal until my embarrassing flub was aired on the radio, and I heard caller #3 win while rambling about license plates. It was the day before the show, I finally had my chance to win, and I blew it.
But like any determined Hanson fan, I try not to take no for an answer until it's the only answer left, and if you're determined enough, you can usually find that "yes" and "no" aren't the only viable options.
A little street team planning and a brief message to and from Zac assured me that it would be okay for a few of us to go and show our support, even if we didn't win tickets and ended up just standing outside. Either way, it would be a good opportunity to spend some time getting to know the girls on my street team, and the trip wouldn't be in vain.
Friday morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 6 AM for one last attempt to win the elusive tickets being dangled just out of my grasp. When I heard the cue to call around 7:30, I paused and took a breath before dialing for the final time, just ready for the anxiety to be over one way or another. It rang on the first try.
"You're caller number two, try again." I heard, not for the first time. I hung up and dialed again. Busy. Again. Busy. Again. It started ringing, and my heart was pounding hard.
"Hello, you're caller number nine! What is your name?" I gave the man my personal information before being transferred over to the Moms on air, hardly able to believe that I had somehow snagged the last pair of tickets after trying religiously for a over a week.
In Charleston, I picked up the tickets from the radio station, then proceeded to meet my friends at the Aloft hotel where Hanson would perform. Dominica, the afternoon radio host, was amazingly friendly and was kind enough to give my friends two extra pairs of tickets to get in. After a week of worry, it finally all came together.
The performance itself was short, but nevertheless exciting. After reading the boys' tweets about being stuck in an airport for 18 hours, then having the Charleston airport lose their luggage, I couldn't help but admire their drive to push through and do their best for us anyway when I knew they must be exhausted and frustrated.
As they sat down, Taylor made a jokingly suggestive comment about how we had all been invited to Hanson's hotel. Zac added "You know, you guys might be the first fans we've ever invited back to the hotel," he said in a flirty voice. "Publicly, that is," he added.
They began with "Thinking 'Bout Somethin'," then played "Make it Out Alive." For the third song, they gave the audience the option of "MMMBop" and "Where's the Love," and completely against all nature of Hanson fans, nobody voiced an opinion. There was light murmuring and some looking around, but no one shouted the name of either song back at the guys. I myself gave them an obvious shrug of indifference, not because I don't like the songs, but because I like them both and don't have a real preference between the two. They ended up choosing "Where's the Love" all on their own, making this one of the few times I've seen Hanson without hearing "MMMBop." They closed out the set with "Give a Little" as expected to promote the new single, and I couldn't have been happier.
After the performance, the guys made their way over to the side of the room, and a woman directed us to line up and form groups of six. No one actually followed this rule, and I joined a group of three of my friends when our turn came. A few quick autographs, a rushed picture, and an awkward that's what she said joke later, it was over.
Our picture turned out great, but I'm a little disappointed at how it went down. Four friends and three Hansons seemed like a good ratio to spread out and not crowd any one brother, right? Consider it a pet peeve of mine to see a Meet and Greet picture with seven girls and five of them are crowded around Zac, and the sole girl next to Isaac is leaning away from him. The formula of which brother is hoarded and which is neglected changes frequently, but you know exactly what I'm talking about. Unfortunately, I was too slow to put any thought into the picture at all. Apparently I was person #4 in the 4:3 ratio, meaning when I finally got to Taylor to get my ticket autographed, everyone else had already been to all three Hansons, and I missed the memo that it was time to take the picture. As I stepped up to Taylor and held my ticket out towards him, instead of reaching for my ticket, he reached for my shoulder, turned me to face the camera, and told me to stand there for the picture.
It's easy to get over the unbalanced picture, though, because for once every single person in it looks great, and I actually know and love all of the people with me. I can't say the same for any of the other group pictures I've been in from member events.
Afterwards, a few of us went out to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wing's and had a good time talking about the show and past tour memories. I'm glad I went, and even more glad that it worked out so nicely for everyone else that went, too. As good as it was, I already find myself missing them and wanting more; not just missing Hanson, but missing the hours in the car with friends, the ridiculous conversations held on sidewalks at 3 AM, and the exhaustion of jumping and dancing for two hours. This mouse already has her eyes on that next big cookie.