I am scared to post this story. I am concerned with what people will think of me after reading it. I wonder if people will think I made it up. I worry that people will see me as irresponsible and stupid.
But as I continue to share myself with you, I am learning that I have made decisions and done things that others may not have made or done; but this is my life.
Regardless of what others think of it, I am sharing it because it is my truth and I have begun to enjoy pushing myself outside my comfort zone and towards judgment; even though it scares the crap out of me.
This post is no more than a story from the book of my life.
In fact, it was written as a chapter in my memoir, not as a blog post. But with Billy Idol making his way back to Ottawa this Thursday to kick off Bluesfest, I thought the timing was right…and the memoir is still being written.
So, I hope you enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed recounting it.
After all, he is “Billy Fu@*ing Idol”.
It is the summer of 2008, and I am 35 years old. A colleague of mine calls me to say she has received front-row tickets to see 80’s band Def Leppard playing at our local concert stadium that night. Billy Idol is opening. She invites me to go with her. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and both bands bring back memories of my youth. Without much hesitation, I agree to go.
As I’m in the shower washing my hair, I decide that I will meet Billy Idol tonight. I have been working on my manifesting skills and have been successful at creating several things in my life.
I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that I will meet him at the show tonight.
To be honest with you, I don’t even know why I want this to happen so badly. I have never been a huge fan (I mean, I liked his music growing up, but I didn’t buy his albums and I didn’t have his posters lining my locker door) and so I don’t even consider what I will say to him when we indeed meet.
Nevertheless, I decide that I will meet him. As I lather up my hair, I picture him on stage singing away and then, catching me out of the corner of his eye, I see him come over and sing directly to me. I feel the butterflies in my stomach as he looks right at me. I see the sweat on his face, the intensity in his eyes and that signature curled-up lip.
That’s about as far as I get. I decide to let the rest play out as it will, and I finish getting myself ready.
I drive to my friend’s place and we head out in her car to the venue. When we arrive, we show our tickets to an usher who escorts us down to the very front, which feels super cool. We are excited as we wait for the show to start. We scope the crowd, and although we aren’t the youngest women there, we certainly aren’t the oldest. We fit right in.
Before long, the show starts. Billy takes the stage and starts belting out one of his signature tunes, probably White Wedding or Flesh for Fantasy or Rebel Yell (I don’t remember, but I know he saves Mony Mony for the end) and so we sing along and dance on our own private dance floor. It’s exciting to be that close to the action, being able to really see Billy’s expressions and all of the band members up close. I’ve never been in the front row of a big concert before, so this is an exhilarating first.
I keep waiting for Billy to notice me. I keep staring at him, willing him to look my way. I stare so intently that if he did look over, he’d probably think I was crazy. It doesn’t happen but I’m having a great time singing along and dancing to his most popular tunes.
I can’t help but notice an attractive red-headed woman, probably in her mid-twenties, pacing back and forth, looking through the crowd and often landing her gaze on me. I smile at her and she smiles back. She seems friendly, and it is clear to me that she isn’t a fan, but someone who is with the band. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable more than it piques my curiosity.
She keeps walking back and forth, looking around and then texting on her phone and talking to a guy that appears to be a roadie or a bodyguard. She finally walks over to me and flashes a beautiful smile. She asks if we are having fun. “Yes!!!!!” She asks if we want our picture taken with Billy, who is still on stage. “Yes!!!!”
But then a weird thing happens. She quickly whisks us around and takes the photo using her own camera, with Billy on stage behind us. She shows us the photo and smiles saying how cool it is and then walks away. We agree that it’s cool and we don’t really think much about it; we are having too much fun belting out whatever 80‘s hit he’s singing at the moment.
After Billy’s set, my friend and I are chatting and taking in the energy of the crowd while waiting for Def Leppard to come on. I am texting with one of my friends who is also at the show, and so I turn around hoping he can see me at the front. All of a sudden, the red-head comes over to me and asks if we want to meet Billy.
What??!!! OMG!!!! I KNEW it!!!!!!!!
I am so excited but I don’t tell me friend about my decision in the shower, and I don’t let on to the red-head how excited I am. I try to act cool.
“Sure. We’d love to”.
She whisks us through the stage doors and walks us down a long corridor. We stop in front of a white door and she asks us to wait outside to make sure the band is ready. We stand in the hallway barely able to contain our excitement…we are going to meet Billy Idol!!! I text my friend who’s still at the concert awaiting Def Leppard, and he is freaking out!! I tell him we’ll see if we can party with the band downtown after, and he should meet us then. It is all very exciting.
We do our best to act cool.
The red-head emerges and announces that the guys are ready to meet us.
We enter the room. It is a big, white room with black leather chairs and couches. Although it isn’t as glamorous as I’d have imagined, it is all pretty awesome. One guy is getting food from the buffet table, one is getting a beer from the fridge and a few of them are sitting on chairs on their phones. Steve Stevens, famous guitarist and Billy’s collaborator, walks in, comes right over and shakes our hands and says “nice to meet you”. He leaves the room. We never see him again.
We shake the rest of their hands and are happy to meet them all…all except Billy.
He isn’t there.
The red-head tells us that Billy is showering and will meet us shortly. She leaves the room. The guys are really friendly, offering us food and drinks. Neither my girlfriend nor I drink, so we decline the booze but she goes for some food. I can’t imagine eating ‘at a time like this’, so I just make myself as comfortable as I can on one of the black leather chairs.
We hang out for a while, making small talk and telling the band how great the show was. We enjoy hearing their take on the set and the drummer says he liked the change they made to “Flesh” and the others agree. It feels surreal being in on the behind-the-scenes of their artistry.
We ask where they are staying and they tell us The Westin Hotel, which is in Ottawa’s Byward Market, the hub of our nightlife. We suggest showing them around “the market” after the show. They seem to like the idea.
We meet Billy’s bodyguard who goes by the name “Toast”. We ask why he is called that and learn it’s because if anyone tries to mess with Billy, they’re “toast”. We laugh. Although he’s a big guy, he seems really friendly.
Toast leaves the room.
A few minutes later, the red-head comes back and says that Billy is ready to meet us now. He enters with Toast close behind him and is kind of shy and awkward. We both stand up and shake his hand. He smells really good, a heady blend of musk and leather, and he is dressed in typical Billy fashion—black. Boots, leather, denim, rings, chains.
Although he has aged, he still suits his look. He has a charisma and an energy that is palpable. He is sexy. We tell him he did a great job on stage and that we loved every minute. He is humble and thanks us. His voice is awesome. Having lived in the UK as a young girl, I have always had an affinity for British accents. Every word just sounds cool. Seriously, he could be ordering a cheese sandwich, and it would sound like the coolest thing I’d ever heard.
We try to make normal conversation, but it isn’t easy. I don’t know how much more I can talk about the show or how awesome Billy is. When we hear Def Leppard start up, I’m not quite sure what to do next. I’m not quite sure what is expected of us. I say to my girlfriend that we should get back to the concert. She agrees. We get Toast’s number so that we can text him when we are near their hotel and we make plans to show them around the market. We head back to our spots. I can’t help but feel we offended Billy by not ditching the rest of the show and leaving with them then.
Being so close to the stage, we can see every muscle and every move of each band member. I am so close, that I can see the regrowth on Phil Collen’s shaved chest. He is one of the lead guitarists and as we are singing along to “Animal” or “Photograph” or “Armageddon It”, he looks right at me and smiles. He looks away and keeps playing. He looks back at me and touches his finger near his eye, then points at me, mouthing the words, “I saw your picture”.
I freeze. It is in this moment that I start putting everything together. The red-head. The photo. Billy arriving late to the dressing room…
No matter what, it doesn’t stop us from heading to their hotel after the show and taking Billy, the band, and his entire posse on a tour of the market. We simply can’t pass up this chance to party with Billy Idol in Ottawa. Stuff like this doesn’t happen every day, and we are not just going to go home to bed.
We meet them in the lobby, and as soon as we walk out of the hotel, Billy immediately puts his arm around me and kisses my neck. It is soft and sensual, and near my ear and kind of makes me excited and nervous at the same time. I don’t t know this person at all, and yet he has his arm around me and is kissing my neck and I am so curious about what is going to happen next. I can’t say what he’s doing doesn’t feel good, but everything feels very strange.
It all feels so contrived.
The red-head and her fiancé walk ahead of us and are kissing and grabbing each other’s asses. After wandering around for a while, and having several people recognize Billy and ask for photos, we decide to stop in at The Rainbow Room, where everyone does a shot and orders beers. I order a soda water with lime. It is evident that Billy is disappointed I don’t drink, but he doesn’t pressure me.
We all talk and hang out, and the red-head and her man are all over each other at the bar. After a while, she pulls me aside and says “Billy likes you. I can tell”. I respond that I am flattered that she thinks so, but that it is ridiculous because he doesn’t even know me. She continues. “You have an opportunity here. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Don’t pass this up.”
She goes back to making out with her man and I go back to talking with Billy. The whole thing has the hair on the back of my neck standing up, in an excited, nervous kind of way, but I keep going. My curiosity isn’t yet satisfied and this whole experience is proving to be extremely interesting.
We decide to check out another bar, so we head back out and land at The Heart & Crown, a pub we think Billy will like. Again, the whole crew orders shots and beers and the red-head again pulls me aside to tell me about the “amazing opportunity I have in my hands”.
I decide to be straight with her. I tell her that there is no way I am sleeping with Billy. I remind her that we have only just met and that I am not going to sleep with him just because he is famous. I tell her that Billy should really try to pursue other options. I even start pointing out other girls at the bar suggesting she talk to them; to take their pictures to show him and see if they’ll do.
She tries to sweet-talk me; “No, no, it’s not like that! That’s not what this is! Billy really likes you, I can tell.” It is at this point that Toast comes over to join the conversation. Billy is just kind of hanging off to the side as his posse tries to work this deal. I’m on to them and I’m not biting, but they don’t fully understand that yet. Their tactics have worked on so many girls at so many concerts that they truly believe it is just a matter of time before they wear me down.
Toast pulls me aside. “Listen, I have worked with Billy for years, and I can tell you one thing for sure…he is the loneliest guy in show business. It’s honestly kind of sad. I feel bad for the guy.” I take another sip of soda water and say “Poor guy. I’m sure he’s lonely, but that has nothing to do with me.”
Here’s what they don’t get: They don’t get that I spent my entire drinking life sleeping with people just because they wanted to sleep with me and that I have have been working through that shame for years since getting sober; they don’t get that without the lubricant of alcohol, I have all of my inhibitions raised and my values intact so that there is absolutely no chance of me sleeping with a complete stranger; they don’t get that telling me someone really likes me who doesn’t even know my last name won’t be enough to seal the deal; they don’t get that no one, not even some famous 80’s rocker is going to take away everything I have spent the last 6 years trying to rebuild, or, more accurately, building for the first time.
It simply isn’t going to happen. No way. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. The girl in me who would have slept with this guy is a shadow of myself in this moment. With each passing second firmly planted in my decision, my resolve grows stronger; I grow stronger and feel better than I have in a long time. I know I am not going to sleep with Billy Idol and it feels good knowing that he won’t be getting what he wants. I spent so many years feeling out of control. It feels good to be in control.
We all just kind of hang around at the bar, as people snap photos and the band buys another round of shots. My girlfriend is having a great time with the drummer. I look over and they have their arms around each other and they are kissing. I don’t judge her. I have been that girl before.
Toast rallies us all together and tells us we’re heading back to the hotel to continue the party. We all just kind of follow along and we show them the way back to the Westin, with me & Billy at the back of the group. He continues to kiss my neck. He won’t kiss my lips. I don’t really want him to, but I know he won’t even if I did. I know he must have a “rule”. He only kisses girls on the mouth if he really likes them. Everyone else gets the neck.
We walk into the lobby of the hotel.
All of a sudden, I am whisked into an elevator with Toast and Billy and we head to the top floor. My eyes grow big and I ask where my friend and the rest of the band are going. Toast tells me not to worry about her; she’s having her own fun with the drummer. My heart starts to race. I hear the bell of the elevator and the doors open into the hallway, Toast opens the door to the suite, and Billy and I enter. Toast closes the doors behind himself and is gone.
It is just me and Billy. It all happened in the blink of an eye. It was incredible.
Billy offers me a drink. I decline. He tells me to make myself comfortable. I am not, but I am also intrigued by where this is all going to go.
I tell him I am not having sex with him.
He says, “No, darling. That’s not what this is”.
I am not scared, but my heart is racing.
I wonder why I asked the universe for this. What did I want to have happen?? I begin to feel a little guilty. I shouldn’t be the one in his hotel room. A hundred other women would, in fact, see this as an “opportunity of a lifetime”. I know I am wasting Billy’s time.
I feel bad, but I also told the red-head a dozen times that I wasn’t a good candidate. She didn’t listen. “Billy really likes you…”
So I decide, ‘Ok, then, Billy. Let’s see if you like me enough to want to get to know me.’
I try to begin a conversation. I ask him questions about his life.
I ask if he has kids. “Yes. A boy and a girl”. Are you close with them? “No”. I tell him I’ve always liked his music, but I’m not a crazy fan, so I don’t know much about him. He nods. I say this as much to explain all the questions as to enjoy this feeling of power in the presence of a celebrity. He is just a man, after all, and I am feeling strong in the knowledge that I will not be sleeping with him. I know that his belief in his ability to change my mind is the only reason I am here.
The only reason.
He starts to open up. He talks about how tough it is being “Billy Idol” and he tells me how he came to have his moniker. He was born William Broad but when a teacher scribbled the words on one of his papers “Billy is idle”, he liked the sound of it, but not the way they spelled it or with the negative connotation.
He talks about his days on heroin and his accident on his motorcycle. He shows me the scar on his leg. It was over 20 years ago that he had the accident, and it is still a pretty nasty scar.
He talks about how he’s managed to stay relevant in a fickle business and his belief that he is a “touchstone” for people who may be lamenting their youth or who want to go back to a simpler time in their lives. We agree that the crowd tonight was more “his crowd” than Def Leppard’s.
I suppose I also say I’m not a fan so that he won’t like me, and maybe he’ll just get bored and walk me to the door and say goodnight. I am beginning to wonder how, or when, I am supposed to leave.
I have been in his room for almost 2 hours.
I ask him about his career. We talk about his relationship with Steve Stevens and how, after Steve got sober, everything changed. “It’s different, you know. He doesn’t come out with us like he used to. He just plays and then goes back to his room.” I tell him I understand as I don’t drink, either.
We talk a bit about his days of hard partying and he shares that those days are behind him. He drinks and smokes pot, but nothing more these days. I feel the need to congratulate him as I sip my Evian water.
And then all of a sudden, it happens. I have no warning (not that this whole situation hasn’t been warning enough), but he leans right over me and pushes my hair out of the way to kiss my neck. I feel his hands go under my shirt and up over my breasts. His hands are soft but strong and he smells so good and it’s “Billy fu@*ing Idol”. I gently push him away.
“I’m really sorry, Billy.” I somehow feel the need to apologize. “I tried to tell you earlier that this wasn’t going to happen. I’m really sorry.”
He gets up. I stand up. He walks over to the door and nods his head toward it. He turns the knob to open it, and, without looking at me, simply says, “Get out”.
I repeat “I’m really sorry…where is my girlfriend?” He laughs a deep, smoker’s laugh and says, “Like hell I’m going to ruin their night, too!” and he shuts the door in my face.
I am standing in the hallway, bewildered, not sure what the hell has just happened. Not sure what I should do now. Not sure if I should be on the hunt for my girlfriend or if I should just get the hell out of there.
I take the elevator down to the lobby. The security guard asks me if everything is alright. I realize I must have a strange look on my face. “Yes. I’m fine”. I sit on one of the couches and begin texting like mad, but my friend isn’t answering. Her phone is off. I check my watch…3:20 a.m. I sit in the lobby until 4:30 a.m. She still hasn’t answered. I get a cab and head home.
I get home and write in my journal. I can’t believe what’s happened. I am bewildered and exhilarated and feeling strange all at the same time. And then a funny thing happens. I want to call my parents.
Growing up, I NEVER talked to my parents about boys or sex or my behaviour. I denied being sexually active for many years, even after my parents knew I was on the birth control pill. But for whatever reason, lying in bed thinking about my crazy evening with Billy Idol, I want to tell them about it. I want them to know that I didn’t sleep with him.
Inside all of my mixed emotions, one feeling rings loud and clear; self-respect. I am feeling proud of my decision and I respect myself for making it. And I want my parents to know about it.
At about noon, my friend calls and asks how my night was. I describe it in detail. I ask why she turned off her phone and she says she didn’t realize she did…she lets me know she had a good time with the drummer. We discuss needing a better plan next time.
I filled my cup that night. I learned that no one can push me into something I don’t want to do, no matter how persuasive they are. I realized how much respect I have for myself and for my body; this temple I have honoured for years and will continue to respect for as long as I am alive.
I realized that I really can manifest anything I put my mind to, and so I must be careful of what I wish for.
That day, I began writing a list.
“100 things I want in a partner”. Nowhere on the list was there “highlighted hair”, “wears leather” or “sings in a band”. Instead, it included things like “sober”, “honest”, “kind”, “easy to be with”, “sincere”, “knows who he is and is confident”, and even went as far as “wears glasses”, is “nerdy” and “has a great relationship with his parents”. I kept it with me at all times. It would be almost one year to the day that I’d meet Roger, and when I laid eyes on him for the first time, I knew I had finally found him. I recognized him almost immediately. And the next chapter of my life would begin.
I am learning all sorts of ways to love myself. I am learning that, like a muscle, I need to keep strengthening the bond I have with myself and I do it through the choices that I make.
Those choices become who I am and those choices become my life.
The same is true for all of us. Although we can’t change what has happened in the past, we can certainly draw from it, learn from it and grow from it. We shape our present and in turn, create our future.
All through the decisions that we make.
I want to love my life.
I want you to love your life.
I want you to love your life one bite at a time.
P.S. I like Billy Idol. This experience didn’t change my opinion of him in any way. In fact, if anything, it endeared me to him and I realize that what happened is just part of the business. As I said, he is just a man. We all use whatever we can to get what we want out of life, and so I don’t hold any ill-will toward him. In fact, quite the opposite is true. I am grateful to him for creating the conditions where my morals could be tested. He helped show me who I really am. Thank you, Billy. Your music has withstood the test of time and I have no doubt you will rock the house at Bluesfest!
P.P.S. Has something like this happened to you? Have your morals ever been tested in a way that left you feeling proud of yourself? Do you have a crazy story you would like to share with me? I would love to hear from you! Email me at [email protected] or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, @sarahtalksfood.
P.P.S.S In other news, I am so excited that my book, The 28 Day Kick The Sugar Challenge is available for you to experience! I can’t wait to support you in kicking your sugar habit to the curb!! Visit KTSC28.com for details. xo