Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thelma And Louise

Before I retired, I was the director of a performing arts theatre. It was very stressful and I worked long hours. I had to deal with agents, promoters, tour managers, tour accountants, groupies, roadies and of course the talent itself. Sometimes working with these people was fun, sometimes it was a nightmare! But sometimes the most interesting people I dealt with were the fans themselves. I really came to understand the word "fan" as being "fanatical". There were all kinds -- good, bad, weird, obsessive, good natured and fun. I could go on and on about the fans I have met over the years. When Bob Dylan came to play at our venue the fans were extremely strange. We had lots of gifts, flowers, letters, etc. that were sent to the venue to give to Mr. Dylan. The rock groups had their groupies. We had to do a lot of homework when an act booked with us to see what the fans were like and what we had to expect during the days and nights leading up to the show.

Which brings me to "Thelma and Louise". Back in 1997 we booked Kenny Rogers for one of his Christmas Shows. I received a phone call from two ladies that live in Stone Mountain Georgia. They told me what big Kenny Rogers fans they were and wanted to come over to the look at the theatre so they could "pick out their seats". Our venue was relatively new at that point so many people were not familiar with the layout of the theatre. My first thought at the time when I was talking to them was, "I just don't have time to show two women the theatre so they can "pick out their seats". Besides many of our seats were pre-sold to season ticket holders and these women didn't have a chance of being able to "pick out their seats", because the ones that they wanted would probably already have been sold. But after talking to them for awhile, I relented and told them to come over. They lived a little over an hour away and we made an appointment for them to come visit me.

When they arrived, they turned out to be more than a typical fan -- these ladies in their late 40's early 50's were true fanatics. They are sisters and they told me that they had been to over 500 of Kenny Rogers' concerts. They were also going to be buying close to 100 tickets (or more) because they had so many people from Stone Mountain that wanted to come with them that they needed to accommodate them. They were renting buses and making this a grand affair. They also wanted to feed these people in one of the banquet rooms adjacent to the theatre. At the time, Kenny Rogers had a chicken franchise called Kenny Rogers Roasters. There was one in Athens and the women wanted them to cater this dinner prior to the concert. So, what turned out to be a meeting with these two women to "pick out their seats", became a big sale and a catered dinner. On top of that, TNN, The Nashville Network, called me to tell me they were doing a piece on these two for one of their shows and wanted to come to the center and video tape them at dinner and at the concert. So, we got a little press out of it as well.

I really enjoyed meeting them and their zest for life. Their enthusiasm for Kenny was a little over the top to me, but that is what being a fan is all about, right?

Needless to say, while making all the arrangements for this trip, the ladies and I became fast friends. I really enjoyed working with them and they always made me laugh. But they had this passion that I had not seen in anyone for a long time. I started calling them "Thelma and Louise" -- just because of their zest for life. The funny part was that they didn't know who "Thelma and Louise" were. So, they went and rented the movie. They called me in horror after watching the movie and said -- "But Kris, we didn't kill anyone!". We all had a laugh and they have been forever, Thelma and Louise. Now they fight over who is Thelma and who is Louise.

All of this took place about ten years ago and these two women have stayed in my life. I've gone to two Kenny Rogers' concerts with them, met them in Las Vegas when they were there seeing Kenny and continued to keep up with many of their trips. I could go on and on about them and you would laugh along with me -- they are so great. To date, they have seen 963 of Kenny's concerts and expect to be at 1,000 by next summer. And yes, they both have jobs, so arranging all the travel and tickets, etc. for each of the concerts is a lot more work for them.

Their mother had dementia so when I was going through my diagnosis, Thelma and Louise were right there for me. And, continue to be. Today, my husband and I are driving over to have lunch with them. I haven't seen them in quite awhile but we keep up with each other.

You never know who is going to play an important part in your life. Thelma and Louise will always be in my heart.

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