Fifteen Seconds of Fame…

I realize the saying is usually “fifteen minutes of fame,” but in my case, it was closer to fifteen seconds. Give or take two seconds. I wasn’t exactly timing it. I was too busy floating in a surreal world of Cloud Nine Dreams Come True.

My friend Amy and I were minding our own business in the front row of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Strings Attached concert here in Pittsburgh last night. I had already warned Amy that I would sing along with every single song, unapologetically. It’s just how I roll. And, I did. Every. Single. Word. Of Every. Single. Song. 

I’d given Amy homework before the concert: memorize both “The Saga Begins” and “Yoda,” because Al does those two songs as an encore at every concert and everyone sings along. And he did not disappoint us. The audience sang along on all the choruses (and most of the verses) of both songs. First “The Saga Begins” …

(Photo courtesy of @AmyJMable)

Then “Yoda.” Near the end of “Yoda,” Al turned the microphone to the audience and told us to sing. And we all belted out a chorus of “Yoda” together with gusto.

Then, without warning—with his accordion still strapped to his chest and the microphone in his hand—he knelt down and crept over the wires at the front of the stage. I could see him headed my way with that microphone sticking out as the audience wrapped up its group-chorus… and… and

Oh my gosh… was he headed toward ME with that thing??

Then, he yelled into the microphone, “NOW JUST HER!” and pointed it right at my nose. I saw my life flash before my eyes as I used that split-second to decide whether to curl up and die in an introverted heap, or to boldly go where I had never gone before (that is, singing solo in front of 3,000 strangers, right in front of my favorite musician ever).

Should I belt out an entire chorus of “Yoda” all by myself? Or should I live in regret and despair forever? Guess which one I chose. No, really, guess. I’ll wait.


Have you guessed yet?


I even did my own conducting at the end…


It was perhaps the most glorious fifteen seconds of my life. And I might even include the births of several of my children and at least one of my weddings in that assessment. But I won’t say which ones.

Poor Amy froze. Although she’d been surreptitiously taking a picture here and there (just like everyone around us), there just wasn’t time for her to unfreeze, get her phone ready, and snap a picture.

So where did these candid pictures come from? Well, you see, there was this VIP after-party…


…where we all chatted and made new friends while we waited to get our photo taken with Al. There was classical music playing and there were battery-operated candelabras on the tables. Stormtroopers and Darth Vader entertained us.

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Al even bought us all pizza!

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Meanwhile, I was teasing poor Amy about having not captured my moment of glory for posterity. (She endured it with grace. I would’ve smacked me into next Tuesday, but Amy is lovely and forgiving, unlike me.) She began asking around while we were in line for our photo op, and since “Weird Al” fans are some of the nicest people I’ll ever meet, we found someone further down the front row who had taken three photos of my fifteen seconds of fame, one Jeff McClelland by name. (That’s one picture every five seconds for all you fellow English majors out there.)

Keep reading. It gets weirder.

I exchanged cell phone numbers with a beautiful friend of Jeff’s, and she said she’d text me the photos today. And… she did. And… I squealed with delight.

And… it turns out Mr. McClelland designed the AWESOME Pittsburgh concert poster for this tour (all VIPs received a 16×24 copy of this poster, individually numbered), and mine will be framed and hanging in my office by the end of this week. It’s a great mix of “Weird Al” Yankovic meets Andy Warhol.


I need to keep thanking Jeff McClelland (and his friend Brianne [@DellaandLila], who was the catalyst for these photos to get to me and who, as it turns out, is a children’s book author—see? I told you it got weirder), but I don’t think there is enough gratitude in the world for going the extra mile to get these to me.

And, of course, thank you to Mr. Yankovic, for not only entertaining us last night, but for providing me with decades of entertainment that got me through some very dark times. You, sir, are a gem.



Gray Hair Everywhere…

It took me a while, but I eventually resigned myself to my graying hair. The hair on my head, at least. In fact, now I get comments even from hairstylists that my cool little gray (read: white) streak in the front looks great. One woman even asked if I colored it that way on purpose. I tried not to snort on her. Really, I tried.


Her comment was a bit extreme, but hey, even a thinly veiled compliment is worth latching onto at my age.

Yup, I was owning my gray, which I had earned over the course of what seemed like two separate lifetimes. I hadn’t been carded at a bar or casino in years (read: decades), so who was I trying to fool? (That was a rhetorical question. I wasn’t foolin’ anybody.)

The fatal blow to my Clairol Nice ‘N Easy days came when a pastor friend mentioned a sermon in which he quoted Proverbs 16:31: “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (ESV).

Well, I wasn’t so sure I qualified for that “righteous life” bit, or that I wanted any sort of crown at all, but I had to ask myself: Why was I still coloring my hair? What was I trying to prove? I couldn’t think of one good reason to continue. Not the money. Not the chemicals. Not the hassle of worrying about roots growing out.

So, I stopped. And it was gloriously liberating.

Fast-forward a few more years to that morning from hell.

One morning I discovered that the only thing worse than waking up to find a few gray hairs on your head is waking up to find a few gray hairs up your nose.

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And where I saw that one hair, others began to follow.

NOW what was I going to do? After a futile Google search for “nose hair color” (apparently Nice ‘N Easy doesn’t have a tiny package for nose hair, although their R&D department is missing a lucrative opportunity here, if you ask me), I ran options through my mind. I saw only two:

  1. Buy a pair of tiny nose-hair scissors and learn how to nosescape, pronto. Knowing my history of clumsiness (I have had more stitches in my head than Frankenstein’s monster), I immediately nixed this idea. It could only end badly, with me probably snipping the end of one nostril like I was trying to recreate the digging of the Panama Canal on my face.
  2.  Buy a nose-hair trimmer.

Oh, good grief. Had it really come to this?

It hadn’t hit me that I was getting older when I turned 50. It hadn’t bothered me when songs from my teen years started showing up on the oldies station. It hadn’t concerned me when I realized capris were invented for seriously middle-aged women… and that I owned more than a dozen pairs that I wore in a regular rotation from April through October. And it hadn’t worried me when AARP started sending me solicitations in the mail every two or three days, knowing eventually I was going to succumb to that offer of a free tote bag (read: another tote bag, in my case).

Nope. I lived through all of those things and never really thought of myself as old. But that nose-hair trimmer I now had to purchase sent me careening downhill emotionally.

Thankful for discreet online purchases, plus Amazon’s generic and ubiquitous boxes, I ordered a nose-hair trimmer and dashed up to the privacy of the upstairs bathroom when it arrived.


I was being more secretive about this than a teenage boy rifling through his dad’s sock drawer. But, I soldiered on, reading the directions carefully before firing up this small missile of doom. I’d read some of the comments on this device on Amazon’s site, and they were both hilarious and informative. And they probably saved me a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

My one piece of advice for using any nose-hair trimmer (especially while the batteries are fresh and the thing is making noises like a Boeing 747) is to ALWAYS KEEP IT MOVING. Be slow. Be careful. Be gentle. But ALWAYS KEEP IT MOVING. Do not linger in one area of either nostril for too long, even if there is a hotbed of blindingly white hairs there. If you hover in one spot too long, these things will sense your fear and latch onto twenty hairs at once like it’s a tug of war for their lives… and they will not back down. It’ll feel like your brain is being yanked out through your nose.

And let me say, these devices could probably do it, if you piss them off enough. You’ve been warned.

Is it worth the painful lessons learned to be able to leave the house without a proboscis full of pearly white hairs? Yes, indeed.

Have I gotten over the fact that gray hairs can pop up anywhere now that I’m rushing headlong toward sixty? Not really.

But at least that last area to go gray remains discreetly hidden from public view. And, even after that one episode of Sex and the City, no, Nice ‘N Easy doesn’t make hair color for that, either. I checked.