Monday, June 26, 2006


On The View this morning, Barbara Walters posed what I thought was an interesting question: now that you’re older, do you have MORE close friends...or LESS? The consensus seemed to be that your circle of friends decreases as you age, and a couple of years ago, I would have agreed. I had my little circle of friends, my little circle of coworkers, my little circle of family, and my little circle of folks with whom I perform. Just a few little circles. But something happened in the spring of 2003 that changed all that.

Clay Aiken.

Who would have thought that the brief appearance of one tall, slightly dorky guy on a reality TV show (I still maintain it’s not a talent competition) would have had such a profound and positive effect on my life? I’ve traveled to places I never expected to see -- the North Carolina State Fair, or any State Fair for that matter, where I ate deep-fried Twinkies? The Mall of America? Vegas, Tampa, Los Angeles? And I’ve attended at least 30 Clay concerts...who would ever have predicted that -- I, whose last concert previous to that had been Barry Manilow in 1976?

But more important than any of that is the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made. So many I can’t even count them. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve joined a big, gregarious army. I’ll bet you singles out there can attest to this -- it’s very easy to just shut yourself up in your house, work on solitary projects (and my compendium of skits and other writings is a pretty good indication of how much time I’ve spent on that!), and only communicate sporadically with actual humans. This fandom has changed that -- I’m constantly getting calls to “go here,” “do that,” “see this.” (Well, okay...and “buy this,” too.) Never thought I’d be sharing confidences with folks from every area of North America, and even Europe and Asia. Never thought I’d be planning preconcert dinners for 60 people. Never thought I'd be balancing on a dumpster in back of an arena in Vegas trying to get a glimpse, through a chainlink fence, of a singer who was born the year I became legal.

So, thanks, Clay, for making me expand my horizons, and, too, for making me pry my ever-expanding backside out of the Pink Armchair and out into the world.

And now, a confession: a couple of years ago, I was suffering from depression. Pretty major stuff. Medication didn’t seem to be doing much, and there were many times that I had some very dark, self-destructive thoughts. Last night, I had a message from the There But for the Grace of God Department:

I was up in my condo working on a skit and heard sirens down on the street. Looked out the window and saw an ambulance with flashing lights and some police cars pull up, their brakes screeching. Didn’t think anything of it -- it’s the city, after all. Must be somebody else, I thought. My doorbell rang. Since I usually ignore it if I’m not expecting anyone (too many Jehovah’s Witnesses, aluminum siding salesmen, and survey takers), I did. The next thing I knew, I heard running footsteps on the stairs, and somebody was pounding on the condo door, yelling “OPEN UP! POLICE!”

Wow. I opened the door to find three cops, two of them women, all of them in riot gear with guns drawn. “Ma’am, we’re here about a domestic matter,” one of the women informed me, hard as nails. “Okay,” I said, mystified. “Did you call threatening to commit suicide?” she asked.

Double wow. “No,” I said. “Well, a woman called from this address,” insisted one of the other cops. “Can we come in and look around?” At that moment, I heard pounding on my BACK door. “Sure,” I said, and ran back to the kitchen. “OPEN UP! POLICE!” I heard again. I flung the door open--I was afraid they’d break it down--to find three more cops. Pretty soon, all six of them were combing through the place, looking for somebody with a razor blade or a gun. (Just a side note: personally, I’d use pills -- that other stuff is way too messy.)

After I managed to convince them I was not suicidal and didn’t live with anyone who was (unless my cats are holding out on me!), I suggested they might want to look up on the roof. They exchanged worried glances and fled.

This incident left me with a newfound respect for Chicago’s Finest -- up until now, I’m ashamed to say that my personal experience with them had mostly been limited to letting them cut in line at Dunkin’ Donuts.

I don’t know if they ever found anyone, or whether or not it was a crank call, but I realized that that could easily have been me, a few years ago. Now, I’m not saying that Clay saved my life or kept me from killing myself -- I’m not that much of a drama queen. But my life has been much richer and happier since he came along.

And I think there are many who could say the same.

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The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

It really is amazing when I think about how my life has been enriched with such incredible friends. We may have all been brought together because of that amazing voice . . . but the friendships have extended way past Clay Aiken. I'm sure he has no idea - someday maybe someone will do a real story about it. I'm fortunate to have a wonderful husband and a great life. Nothing was missing. I wasn't looking for anything to fulfill it. But I realize how much richer my life has become because of the wonderful people I have met in the last 3 years and the real friendships I have formed. Thanks for reminding me.

ivy said...

And you have made our lives richer too. There are imes when I find myself doubled over in laughter while reading one of your skits. I think in one of the early ones Conan became a vagrant or maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part. Many hugs.

Michi said...

I know my life has become richer (er, actually poorer due to concert tickets, merchandise, cd's etc but that is besides the point) because of Clay and the friends I have met "through" him.

A lot of crap has happened in my life this past three years. Would I have coped if there had been no Clay Aiken? Sure, it is what I do.

Having said that, I know for a fact, the coping has been a lot easier because Clay Aiken exists.

His music makes me feel good - heck it makes me feel and even when there is pain involved - feeling is good. It shows you are alive.

I have met many wonderful people that share a common interest - Clay. Did they replace my "real life" friends and family - No but some of them became my real life friends and family.

You can never have too many friends to support you, to laugh with, to cry with.

Clay Aiken always thanks his fans and I am always wanting to thank HIM.

Pink - I am glad I have gotten the chance to meet YOU. Thanks Clay.

Chardonnay said...

So here I am in the midst of February in Michigan (this is a retrospective.. of course) and from out of the blue I get an invite to go meet up with some women I've only met very briefly on the internet. And as it turns out it's been the highlight of my year si far. Who'd have thought? But a half a year still remains to potentially challenge that...

*twiddles thumbs*

Thanks for the story Pink. Our lives have been changed sinced him, for sure. It's amazing how meeting you all just once, briefly, over a plate of country fried chicken and chick peas somehow provided me more connection than with those who I share 40/52.

He does funny stuff to us like that.

CB said...

This fandom is richer because of you Pink. After his music, my new friends will always be the one thing I want to thank Clay for, maybe I'll do it when I win that album name contest.

~ YSRN ~ said...

Damn. We're so lucky. Thanks for the reminder, Pink. You're a treasure, you know!