Just Act Like You Belong

It’s Throwback Thursday!

And because a picture’s worth a thousand words… I’m gonna share a few pics and about two thousand words to boot.

On Monday, September 22nd, the calendar notification on my phone buzzed at exactly 9am. Two words popped up: Sam Smith.

I sighed.

I hadn’t been able to get a ticket. I mean, I could’ve forgone groceries for the week and bought one but I have kid 2 for whom I am ‘responsible.’ He’s still a minor and there are laws about feeding him daily… blah, blah, blah.

So, I deleted the calendar reminder and went about my day. My sad, empty day.

Somehow I managed to get through it as I joked with my co-workers that I was going to leave work and wait behind the Riviera just to hear Sam sing one song, live. Clearly, my wish of seeing him live in a small venue was not going to come true, but, if I could just hear him live, that would be a great consolation.

But, really, I hadn’t planned on nothing more than going home to shower, throw on a pair of sweats, max out on the pot roast I had in the crock pot and watch the Bears game.

Kid 2 and I walked in through the door and the amazing aroma of the pot roast hit us immediately. He nudged me to the side a little as he headed to the kitchen and, because I’m the mom, I tried to trip him and then shoved him into the bathroom as I proceeded to get first dibs on that night’s dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I love him and I would die for him… really, I would… but he was in no real imminent danger and I was very hungry.

Now, I feel I must explain something about me and my need to do things in a particular order. If you recall (or just re-read 2 paragraphs up), I was going home to shower, get comfy, eat and veg in front of the tv. However, because I didn’t stick to my original ‘to-do’ list with eating dinner first, I felt myself getting a little antsy. And, of course, my shower time was thrown off because I took time out to watch (in utter and complete shock) kid 2 wash the dishes and tell me, in detail, about his day. May I just take this time to point out that he was not asked to do either. Again… utter and complete shock.

But I digress… so I was feeling antsy; as if there was something else I should be doing. Before I knew it, I was texting this message to Thelma (her real name is not Thelma but she is really the Thelma (the spontaneous one) to my Louise (the practical one) ).


*yes, I’m well aware of the fact that she misspelled ‘pot’ and incorrectly used of the word ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’… can we just focus, people

Judging by her response, I knew she thought I was bluffing. Which explains why she wasn’t ready when, 40 minutes later, I was calling her.

“Let’s go! It’s almost 7:00. The show is supposed to start at 7:30.”

“Oh (expletive) you were serious??? Gimmie 10 minutes to get dressed.”

“Hurry up… and don’t forget to brush your hair just in case this night ends up with us having our mug shots taken.”

“On it.”

10 minutes later we were on route to the Riviera.

Right about that time, kid 1 called me.

“Whattcha up to, lady?”

“I’m on my way to the Sam Smith concert.”

“Ugh… you got tickets? I hate you.”

“No, I don’t have tickets. I’m just going to the concert.”

“Wait… you’re sneaking in. You do know your too old to be doing things like that. I’m done with you.”

“First of all, I’m only too old to wear booty shorts. And secondly, I am not sneaking in. I’m just hoping to get close enough to the atrium just to hear him. I just want to hear him sing live.”

She was silent for all of 3 seconds…

“Mom, listen to me… just act like you belong.”

5 minutes later we were driving up to the corner of Broadway and Lawrence. There was a crowd lined up around the corner of the Riviera waiting to get in. I drove past the venue.

“And now we spend 30 minutes trying to find parking.”

Just as the word “parking” made it’s way out of my mouth, I noticed a car pulling out of it’s space on the next block. The block DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE RIVIERA.

“I’m just going to park and then we can look for the city signage that tells us why we can’t park here.”

So I parked. And then we looked for the sign. But there wasn’t any. NONE. Not one irritating, illogical, frustrating City of Chicago “NO PARKING 6am-7am, 7:30-8:45, 9:17-10:01– Pay The Meter $1.00 for .6 seconds for up to 30 minutes” sign.

Thelma thought the fact that there were no signs was a great sign that we belonged there.

“No. I think this just means that we are probably going to get arrested and the fact that my car will not get towed is the one gracious moment the good Lord is going to allot me tonight.”

She stopped in her tracks, shrugged her shoulders and said…

“Eh, you’re probably right.”

And then we proceeded to walk to the front doors of the Riviera.


Act like you belong… act like you belong… act like you belong. I repeated the words to myself as I walked past the security guard and opened the door.

O…M…G… I was in the atrium! That’s it! My goal had been met. Now all I had to do was kill some time until Sam hit the stage so that I could actually hear him sing. So I casually veered to the left; away from the line of folks waiting to purchase tickets. There was a short woman in her late 30’s standing at a podium going through lists. She looked up from her list.

“Hi. Which list are you on?” she was neither peppy or rude, just matter-of-fact.

“Oh, I’m just waiting here for someone to come over and let me in.” I was killing time, is what I was doing, but she didn’t need to know that. I looked down at my phone to check the time, it was now 8:27. Anxiety started to set in. He’d be taking the stage any minute! Just then, a man, who looked a bit too old to be there, came out from the auditorium lobby and told the woman his phone had no reception and he was expecting guests.

Good to know.

He fumbled with his phone for a minute and then looked up at me.

“You excited about seeing Sam?”

“I’m super excited to hear him perform.”

“He’s pretty amazing.”


“Are you waiting for someone?”

“Yep… anyone who will let me in.”

He laughed as if I were joking.

“Yeah, I’m waiting for a few clients myself.”

“Well, if they don’t show up, We’re willing to help you out.”

He laughed, again, as if I were joking.

The woman at the podium then interrupted my hopeful conversation.

“Are you sure you’re not on the list? What’s your name?”

I gave her my name and assured her that it would not be on any of her lists. She nodded and continued to peruse through her 4 page list of 8 point-font-sized names. Thelma and I stood next to her looking up at each other and shrugging our shoulders, pretending to be surprised when she came up empty.

“No. Your name isn’t here. Do you know if your party is already inside? If you’ve tried to text them they may not be able to get reception.” She sounded concerned. As if she had failed me. Pobrecita. Thanks guy-who-looked-too-old-to-be-there for putting that idea in her head.

Thelma, podium lady, guy-who-looked-too-old-to-be-there and I were staring through the 6 glass doors that kept me away from entering the actual concert when, out of nowhere, a chipper, bubbly, blonde young lady holding a clipboard came barreling through one set of doors.

“Hiiiy… areyaonthelist?”

“No.” All 4 of us said at the same time.

“Well… ummm… whoyawith?” she paused and in a less rapid-fire delivery asked, “I mean, who do you work for?”

Now, let me be clear on this… SHE ASKED ME. I did not provide my employer’s information nor did I prod her to ask. So I did what any polite person would do. I answered her question.

And that is when the heaven’s split and chipper, bubbly, blonde girl smiled at me, turned around, rummaged through the papers on her clipboard then turned back to me and held up 2 tickets. They were glowing. Not really… but they might as well have been.

I was a little light-headed and, quite frankly, nauseous. It took me a second to make out what Thelma was inconspicuously saying in my ear.

“Take the damn ticketsss.”

I could see my hand reaching out for them but my brain still hadn’t quite processed what was going on. Suddenly, my body was moving forward, towards the ticket check-in line. Thelma had her hand on my back and very smoothly guided me through the process while I concentrated on keeping my knees from buckling. Within 20 seconds, we were in.

We. Were. In.



Not only were we inside the venue. We were smack dab in the middle section. And, as luck would have it, we were standing next to the bar. So there we stood, Thelma: cool, calm and collected. Me: biting my nails and doing the pee dance (and I didn’t even have to pee).


And then at 8:34,this happened…


“Will you taaaaake me… to Nirvana?!?!?!” I sang it perfectly… in my head… so as not to drown him out. I wanted to say, “Why, yes, Sam… of course I will. You know, if it weren’t for that one pesky detail.” No, not that one. You see, I really like Sam Smith but I loooooove Sam Smith’s voice more. Lucky for him, I’m not attracted to him in the least. I’m certain he wouldn’t be offended by that at all.

So Sam went on singing. And I went on swaying and screaming “woot, woot” more than a drunk sorority sister during semi-formal. And I was completely sober. After the 3rd song, I started to feel (and smell) the enormity of the standing-room only crowd. I looked over my shoulder and told Thelma that I was going to stand closer to the aisle where it wasn’t so congested. I moved over near the aisle where the security guard gave me the ‘don’t go past here’ gesture. I nodded and was able to fit just in front of the imaginary boundary he had set up. After a few minutes the young guy standing next to me and I became bff’s when we realized two things.

1. that the 5 girls in front of us who were taking selfies (while Sam was singing!) over and over and over again, were the biggest fools in the world


2. we both loved this song the most…

My new bff and I danced and sang and ‘woot-wooted’ through the whole thing. Meanwhile, the pack of fools were still taking selfies and holding their cameras so high they kept blocking our line of vision. So annoying. I couldn’t do much about fixing the situation because I’d left Thelma on the other side of the room. So I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sweet sound of wonderfulness which flowed from Sam’s lips.

I’m not sure how long I was entranced before I realized someone was tapping me on the shoulder. I opened my eyes to see the imaginary-borderline security guard standing behind me. I immediately moved up another 4 inches and apologized, assuming I had crossed ‘the line’. He was shaking his head and smiling.

Then he put his hand on my back, raised his nose toward my bff dancing and woot-woot partner and lead me to the side of the aisle where NO ONE WAS ALLOWED. But I was… I WAS ALLOWED! Me and bff, whose name I never learned, spent the remainder of the concert swaying and cheering and laughing and singing… and doing it all without invading each other’s personal space. And they were right there. Sam Smith and his voice were right there!

sam4After almost 2 hours of complete bliss, and I knew it was coming to an end. And though he’d performed almost every song I wanted to hear, he still had yet to sing his version of the song that won me over. The song that made me fall in love with his voice. He said good-night and exited the stage. Bff looked at me, made a sad, pouty face and started to walk past me.

“I guess that’s it.”

I’m not sure what kind of facial expression I responded with, but he stopped in his tracks and gave me the ‘ooh girl, whatchu know?’ look. I smiled and shrugged.

And then he came back on stage and I heard the piano start to play and the saying ‘it struck a chord’ suddenly took on a whole new meaning.

I know… I know that’s not a video taken from that night but this is the version I love the most and, since it’s my blog, I get to add whatever version I want (with the understanding that I am not profiting from this video and no copyright infringement are intended).

So that’s it. That’s my Throwback Thursday pic/story experience. I decided to write this last night so imagine my shock when I learned, just 2 hours ago, that Sam will be returning to Chicago in January at the UIC Pavilion!!!

Oh lawdie… there’s no telling how I’m going to get in to see him there. But however it happens… and it will happen… I’m sure it’ll be an adventure.


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