Today we are going to Bowling Green, which is just half an hour short of the three hours drive to Toledo. Kayla is in a fashion show and she wants us to come up and see her performance. For Kayla to be in a fashion show is a big deal because even though she is 6′1″, skinny as a rail and drop dead gorgeous, she is very shy about drawing attention to herself. I took her for a modeling audition when she was in high school and I watched her walk the runway then. Kayla and I have a special bond because we are both empaths and I have been through the same insecurities that she has gone through. I can just look in her eyes and know exactly what she is thinking. But…this is a two and a half hour drive to watch her in this show. Five hours round trip. And it’s Saturday during football season. The Buckeyes are playing. No one gets me out of the house on a football Saturday.
As usual, Tywana makes all of the arrangements. Our arrangement for the last 30 years has been to just tell me where to be and when and I’ll find out the details on a need to know basis. I’m a bit stressed about the dogs. We took Zoe to the vet on Thursday for the recurring issue with her foot where she gets an abscess that eventually bursts. In addition to this, she’s been scratching like crazy and she’s losing hair in patches. The vet thinks it’s a skin infection and sends us home with antibiotics. But on Friday, we find the same patches on Stevie and her scratching has gotten worse. We’re leaving on Saturday and I don’t want to leave them like this. So, this morning I get up early enough to get to the vet’s office around 8 when they open to pick up medication for them. I decide to forego my walk today. I don’t know what time we’re going to need to leave to get to the show this afternoon. So, I get up, shower and get dressed. For Kayla and for Zoe and Stevie, I can skip one day of walking. On the way to the vet’s office, I call Tywana to see what time we need to be on the road to Toledo. I’m laying out the plan for getting the $50 pill to each of them and making sure they eat enough so that they don’t vomit it up and waste the $100 it’s going to cost to treat them. That’s when Tywana tells me the show is at 7 this evening. Uh-oh. I’ve spent this whole time thinking the show was sometime in the afternoon. This changes my entire day. I’ve gotten up and showered and gone to the vet early assuming we’d be leaving soon for a 1 or 2 in the afternoon show. OK… No problem. Now, what about the Buckeye game? It’s at 3:30. Kayla was home last weekend. So, I was debating about spending the evening with her versus watching the OSU game. There aren’t many people on the planet I’d miss an OSU game for. I can be more precise than that. There are two. Last week, I got to watch the game because Kayla was getting her hair done by Tywana at home. But, there is no way to work a 3:30 kickoff into a 7:00 show start time in Bowling Green. I’ll have to listen to the game on the radio. I can do this. It’s Maryland. Should be an easy game.
Tywana and I do the math. 2-½ hours in the car. Allow an hour for dinner and to get to the hall. So, we need to leave right around 3:30. We Yelp a restaurant near campus and we get on the road. I ask a few more details about the show on the way up. Kayla is a social club that has to do with fashion. We think she is modeling fashions designed by the students at UT. It’s a competition between UT and Bowling Green. Kayla loves fashion. She and I watched Project Runway together for years. I can deal with a fashion show. It’ll be interesting to see what the kids have designed and to see how Kayla walks the runway now compared to four years ago. We know that Kayla did have multiple “scenes” initially, but as the show has morphed, she’s down to one scene near the end of the performance. I’m still doing the math in my head trying to figure out what time I’ll be able to get home. 7 o’clock start time. I’m going to guess a 90 minute show. We should be back in the car around 8:30, maybe 9 o’clock. We should be home by 11-11:30. I can do this.
We get to Bowling Green, find the restaurant and have dinner. We find the hall and sit at a table in the lobby. We spot Kayla walking by and call her over. She’s dressed in a short black cocktail dress and 4” heels. I reach up to give my 6’5” baby a kiss on the cheek. We sit and talk for just a couple of minutes. It’s almost 7 o’clock. She tells us she has been here for almost four hours. They were supposed to arrive at 2 o’clock and her ride was supposed to pick her up at 1:15, which was cutting it close. Her ride didn’t arrive until 1:30 and then said they were stopping for food on the way over. When Kayla arrived closer to 3 o’clock, they were the first ones there. This is how the entire rehearsal time has gone. Total disorganization. We ask Kayla if one of the kids at UT designed her dress. No, she tells us. It’s from Forever 21. No one is wearing clothes designed by anyone at either school. “So, what is the point of the competition?”: we ask. Kayla says she guesses it’s the models being judged. Kayla doesn’t ask a lot of questions either. We’ve driven here to watch her model off-the-rack clothes.
At 7:20, a kid comes from the auditorium and announces the doors will open at 7:40. By 7:40 we will have been here nearly an hour. 7:45 rolls around and the doors open. That’s when I notice a few people pulling out tickets. Tickets? We’re supposed to pay for this? Oh well. It can’t be much. After all, these are broke college students. There is a smattering of parents there, but mostly these are students. I reluctantly reach for my wallet to pull out a $20. Probably a $5.00 I think. That’s when they announce it’s $15.00 each at the door. It would have been nice if Kayla had told us and/or maybe gotten tickets for us in advance. Oh well.
So, now we’re finally in. There is no raised runway in the room. There is a stage at the front and chairs arranged to form a T with two short runways areas near the stage and a long “runway” down the center of the room. There is no spotlight for the models. This looks like it was set up this morning with no thought whatsoever. The music is blaring. It’s rap. This is not the clean versions of anything either. It’s blasting right into my ears and through my chest. Every dirty word your mother taught you not to say is included in each and every song. This is torture. Will the show ever start? I really wanted to be out of here at 9. I’m seriously thinking of texting Kayla and telling her we’re going to have to go and miss her walk.
Around 8:30, the show finally gets under way. I start calculating again. Maybe we’ll be out of here by 10. That would put us home 12:30 or 1. Ugh. I really wanted to be home sooner. I wonder how the dogs are doing since I just gave them this medication for the first time this morning. We had someone let them out at 8, but still they will be home several hours by themselves. I’m trying to be patient wonder just how long this will take. The first “scene” is kids walking in some very stylish clothing. Bowling Green’s team went first. They were just all right. Toledo’s team obviously put more thought into their production. But, during the entire first scene, the lighting people seem to be confused. It starts off in almost total darkness. You can’t see the model’s makeup at all. You can barely see the clothes. Then the lights come on full. Then they are dimmed. I’m starting to get a headache because the music is a steady diet of gangster rap- guns, sex, drugs, money, more sex, more guns. Oh wait. That songs’s pretty decent. Then, back to the gangster rap.
Scene 1 takes about 45 minutes. It’s now well after 9. I tell Tywana to text Kayla and find out what scene she is in. Maybe there are just two scenes. Kayla texts back “The Creative Milkshake scene”. Kayla, we have no idea what that means or when it is. There are no programs. Give us a number. “Scene 5”.
At this rate, scene 5 should roll around around 2 o’clock in the morning. I really didn’t have plans to spend the night here to see Kayla do a 2 minute walk. This is worse than any swim meet we have ever been to. But, I’m not going to be the bad guy who says we’re leaving. So, I try to go full Zen. Those meditation skills will come in handy tonight. I sit back and try to relax into the God-awful moment. Scene 2 is lingerie. This is when I know I’m old. Even when I was young I would never have attended this event- too disorganized, too long and this music makes me want to run screaming from the room. Watching these children parade around in lingerie makes me want to go turn on the lights and tell them they should all be ashamed of themselves and go home. The girls look like prostitutes. The boys look like pimps. I’m reminded of a scene from Dr. Strange where he puts time on a loop to defeat an enemy. In the movies keeps repeating the same moment over and over. This is what it feels like as an endless parade of children playing dress up loops in front of me, some of the models appearing two and three times. My God, make it stop. This is what Hell must feel like.
Finally, scene 2 comes to an end. The emcees announce there will be a performance, followed by a intermission. Are you kidding me? An intermission? So, that this post won’t be as long as the night, I’m going to skip a lot of detail here. We text Kayla that we’re going to have to think about leaving soon. I send a video to her of the mayhem in this room. Kids up dancing. The emcees up dancing. Girls dressed like prostitutes, talking to boys using the same language in this music from hell that has been pumped into our heads for over two hours now. The music is so violent I know that after this show I am either going to feel like killing someone else or killing myself. I now understand why there is so much sexual assault on campus. The devaluation of women and life in this music is impacting me in just the couple of hours I’m immersed in it. The intermission “ends” and 15 minutes later, the show starts up again.
Finally, we realize in addition to not being able to organize a parade with one float in it, these kids can’t count. Kayla tells us her scene is next. After BG’s team goes again, she is in the first song for UT. We see Kayla finally in full makeup and with her wig on for her performance. By this point, she’s been here over 7 hours walking around in 4 inch heels. She’s been stressed about this. I know she has to be exhausted. As she does her walk, I’m right there with her, feeling her nerves. I can barely watch. But, I have to watch to give her energy. I can see that’s she’s nervous. That’s only because of how well i know her. She’s got her fierce face on and she looks amazing. As she pauses at the end of her walk, I sense something is wrong as she glances over her shoulder. I’m positive no one else in the room knew because each model has done something different. She has to stand for what seems like an eternity at the top of the runway. I know she’s got to feel terrified. Finally, it’s over and she makes her exit.
We pop up and rush to meet her backstage. I’m hoping for look of relief or maybe even excitement. She did it! I’m so proud. But, I see that there are almost tears in her eyes. Someone missed the timing on their walk and Kayla was supposed to walk off with her. Kayla is upset that it didn’t go perfectly. I grab her and hug her and tell her how proud I am of her. I assure her that absolutely no one had any idea it was less than perfect. That’s when it hits me. This is why I am here. The fact that I drove 2-½ hours to see her for a grand total of probably less than 15 minutes and sat through what was the most disorganized “show” that I have ever seen, losing any little faith I might have had in young black kids in college, was all worth it to be here to reassure her in this moment.
We get in the car and we make the 2-½ hour drive home. We text Kayla. She thanks us for being there and supporting her. Another girl’s mother didn’t comes because she was going to the movies with her boyfriend. Kayla says she thought “Not my Mom.” We get home around 2 am. The day is way past done. I did absolutely nothing “productive” today. I didn’t get my walk in. I didn’t get any work done around the house. But, I did take care of Stevie and Zoe and I was there in that moment for Kayla, whatever it took to be there. There are moments, there are days, when I wonder why in the world I still have to be here. As I review the day in my head in the few minutes it takes to fall into a slumber, I have the answer to that question. I’d do this day over again tomorrow to be there for my girls.