Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Do You *Believe* in Life After Cher?

Today I got some sad news.  Now, it might not be sad to anyone else, but it's sad to me.  Turns out Cher is ending her Las Vegas show on Feb. 5.  And I have not been to see it yet.  You see, I love Cher.  A lot.  Sure, I realize there are much cooler stars to be in love with.  I could swoon over that Bieber kid, but he doesn't have quite the way with wigs that Cher does.  Yeah, I could worship Lady Gaga, but Cher's got bodysuits older than her.  And say what you will about her, but Cher is a survivor.  I've been known to watch the full two-hour long Biography on her and get misty throughout.  One of the first records (yeah, a record) I had was "I Got You Babe," from my dad's collection of discarded 45s.  She is a force to be reckoned with and is constantly reinventing herself. I could wax poetic about her for paragraph upon paragraph, but that's not really the purpose of this story. 

Back in 2003, before I really knew WH (we had met, but he wasn't Wonderful anything to me at that point), when Cher was on her marathon Farewell Tour, three friends and I managed to get tickets to see her at the Verizon Center (then MCI Center).  We planned for weeks about it and fantasized about getting called up on stage during her finale.  We even had "What Would Cher Do?" t-shirts made, with a top ten list on the back*.  We made sailor hats to throw onstage during "If I Could Turn Back Time" (a Cher concert tradition).  And we spent evenings at Timberlake's listening to Cher on the jukebox over and over again, annoying the other patrons to no end.  In truth, we may have gone a wee bit overboard, but Cher's worth it. 

The night of the concert, we decked ourselves out in our WWCD t-shirts, feather boas, and sailor hats (because what else would you wear to a Cher concert -- besides maybe a buttless bodysuit).  We found our seats, on the side about 15 rows up and three sections back, middle of our row.  Not too bad.  The crappy comedian who opened for her was inconsequential to us, and we waited, somewhat impatiently for the real show to begin. The lights were up and people were milling about while the roadies put the finishing touches on the stage.  My friends were chatting and I was stretching a stiff neck and looking around when I spotted a guy who kept staring at us.  He'd look at us, then look around our section, then land back on us again -- I can't imagine why, unless it was the sailor hats and the rainbow feather boas.

The next thing I know, the guy is at the end of our row and pointing to us, "Hey, you, do you guys want to move up?"  Did we ever!  I poked my friends, getting their attention and gathering my coat to get up.  My friends and I scooted out of the row, spilling beer down the necks of the people sitting in front of us.  We followed the guy down the steps of our section, down, down, down until we reached the floor area.  That's right, the floor.  At this point, we giggled like little kids, clapping our hands together and wondering where we were going.  The guy kept going down the middle aisle, until he stopped . . . at the four seats front and center, within sweating distance of where Cher would be performing.  It is at this moment when I nearly passed out. My one friend, the Cher Fan, and I couldn't stop shaking and staring at each other open mouthed.  In fact, since then, I've never seen him so excited. 

So there we were, shaking and sweating and gawping like maniacs waiting for the show to begin.  We couldn't sit down, this was Cher, after all.  But much to our surprise, the people seated around us, the ones who actually paid the big bucks to be up close and personal remained subdued and seated throughout.  It was weird.  At last the show started and we jumped up and down, we sang along, and we made a spectacle of ourselves.  But we didn't care.  As the finale approached, we got our sailor hats ready.  When the moment came, we zinged them onto the stage . . . and if memory serves, CF nearly took Cher out with his. 

And then, as quickly as it began, it was over. Cher was taking her final bow.  We reached out to her, clapping and waving our hands as she ran across the stage slapping hands with everyone she could reach.  Then it happened.  Cher. Touched. Me.  I immediately flashed back to that old Brady Bunch episode when Marcia got kissed by Desi Arnaz, Jr. and delcared, "I'll never wash my face again!"  I could imagine it, preserving my hand in a plastic bag, declining to shake hands with people and feigning injury for the rest of my life.  Then I remembered, I'm not crazy. 

Still flying high, we all returned to Timberlake's and regaled our friends there with stories of the night.  It was the best night of my life up to that point.  In fact, it was the night when WH and I first kissed.  One of his favorite stories to tell is, "The first time I kissed her, she told me it was the best night of her life." He conveniently leaves Cher out of the equation in the telling. 

I've seen Cher in concert twice since then, including the time I dragged WH to L.A. to see her at the Hollywood Bowl for what she swore was her last concert, but nothing compares with that first time.  The time she touched me.  In fact, I "Believe" that if "I Could Turn Back Time" and relive that night exactly as it happened, I would, because that was the night "I Found Someone."  WH has indulged my Cher obsession for the past seven years (don't worry, I undulge his love of UFC, because all's fair in a good relationship).  We even danced to "After All" as the first dance out our wedding -- the other "best day of my life."

*From our What Would Cher Do t-shirts.  Die hard Cher fans will recognize some of these.
10. Wait four hours for a table in the back, so she wouldn't be gawked at.
9. Win an Oscar.
8. Hang from a chandelier like a transvestite pinata.
7. Believe in life after love.
6. Cher, Cher, and Cher alike.
5. Choose Equal.
4. Be an evil frickin' diva for 40 frickin' years.
3. Singlehandedly support Bob Mackie's career.
2. Turn back time.
1. Hwahwao!


  1. What great memories!! I was immediately taken back to the Sonny & Cher show, with them holding little Chastity in their arms, reading this! About 20 years ago, the owner of a gym here in Tallahassee had a stint as Cher's personal trainer -- that's all I know but it was vicariously exciting hearing about the trips to the West Coast and the first blush of having a famous client!

  2. Wow, how in the world did you not tell this story till now!

  3. Thanks Wayne, for your story!

    Debb, I don't know why I waited till now to tell it.

  4. Wow, what a great story! As for #10, I loved that episode!

    So.. are you gonna see Burlesque then? :)

  5. Michelle, I will be first in line the moment it comes out to see Burlesque. I soooo can't wait! WH even said he'd take me to see it! He's a keeper!

  6. Love, love, love Cher! If you still have that Top 10 shirt, I'd buy one! Nice to meet another Native Washingtonian, not many of us left in this town! I grew up on Park Road, NW!

  7. Hoping that tonight is just as magical for you. Can't wait to hear what you are wearing this time.