At long last, I can finally stay awake long enough to write the epic tale that was my journey to the center of Darren Criss’ stage, but I’m still on a lot of painkillers, so if this doesn’t make sense, bear with me.
I really don’t know what prompted me to make “the sign”; my friends and I had joked around on Twitter about finding the perfect guy to “have the honor of being the last guy to get to second base with me”, and when I found out my surgery was two days after Darren’s show, the jokes centered around him. So on a whim I made the poster (see below), putting a spin on the “picture perfect girl” hashtag, and just went out there with zero expectations.
My friends and I got in line relatively early, and ended up in the prime spot of being the front of the line after the break for the fire exits. This ended up being the doors used by all the crew (including Charlene when she and her gang showed up) and Liam used that door when he came out a few times to film the crowd. At one point I looked over at him standing by the doors talking to the HoB guard, but pointing his camera at me. We caught eyes and he just started laughing at the sign, and he came over and said, “that is the raciest thing I have seen all tour” and I shrugged it off and we laughed some more as Molly came over, saw the sign and made a little pouty face and reached for a hug. I told her to stop being sad and she and Liam went back inside.
About five minutes later Molly came back out, saying Darren had seen my poster and wanted to talk to me. I don’t know if she and Liam had said something to him, or (as I later learned) because my tweet of the poster the night before had made it to the top of the #pictureperfectgirl trend (for which I thank all my Pentaholic friends who faved/RTed it), but I was astounded all the same. She put the Adventures wristband on me and told me to go in the VIP line, but I felt bad because I was with my friends — who bought my ticket in the first place — and I didn’t want to abandon them for the three hours we had left before doors opened. So Molly said she’d come back and get me during VIP, and I spent the next two hours trying not to cry.
Molly said she’d get me around 5:15, and before we knew it 5:30 had come and gone, with no Molly. My best friend kept telling me to go up to the VIP line, but I’m not the kind of person to make demands over a gift someone promised me, so I just kind of twiddled my thumbs until my friend brought me to the front of the line. A guy I knew in high school was working the front door (what up Jake Toole) and I explained everything and he led me to this guy Josh who let me in and brought me to the back of the photo line.
As the line dwindled down I saw Molly, who was introducing everyone to Darren before the photos and she apologized and hugged me and I said it was fine and then suddenly she goes “here’s Emily” and pushes me towards Darren. I was not prepared and was just awestruck. I had on some pretty high heels, and with them Darren and I were the same height. He said, “Hey Emily!” and I tried to say “I heard you liked my sign” but it probably came out as gibberish because he asked me to repeat myself and I just said nevermind, and we smiled and took the picture and then he was whisked off backstage. As I went back to grab my bag, I took the pink ribbon pin off my poster and handed it to Molly saying it was a thank-you to Darren and she said “oh, yeah, I’m going to pin this on him right now!” and left.
Now, all the VIP people were staking their claim at the front of the stage, and I knew I could never save four spots until my friends showed up, so I chilled off to the side and began chatting with Liam. He asked questions about the surgery and again mentioned how racy my poster was and how it made the entire crew laugh, and was shocked when he saw the Xs on my hands and that I was so young yet really strong about the whole thing and just impressed that I was turning to humor in all of it, and I told him nothing was going to get in the way of having fun and we hugged it out multiple times before he had to go backstage.
Eventually my friends come in and we get a pretty decent spot about 7-8 rows back and we experience the amazingness that is Charlene and Theo and speculate if Darren would wear the pin onstage. I felt incredibly blessed and thought that was the end of my special surprises and just got into the night.
Apparently it wasn’t. After Theo’s set I see Liam and Molly walking back and forth between the stage and the barrier and figure they’re just working. They’re staring into the crowd and I figure that since Liam and I are “bros” now I’d catch his eye and offer him a smile because he looked kind of stressed out. They locked eyes with me and Liam gestured like he was holding a sign. I held up my sign, confused — I had asked Liam if the crew wanted to keep it since it made them all laugh, and he had declined, but maybe he changed his mind I didn’t really know — and they got excited and flashed their lights at me and told me to come to the front of the crowd. As I got there, Molly asked, “are you okay with staying up here for the first part of the show?” and it just hit me. I nodded and they smiled and they went backstage as I tried to collect my thoughts.
A lot of the people around me (front right, near the side barrier) had a “who tf is this bitch” look and I felt really bad because I know they spent a lot of money and/or time to be in the front and I just tried to be friendly with people, so I hope that came across. A few older women to my right asked to see the sign and when I showed them they put on a pity face and I quickly just said “nope, we are not here to be sad, we’re here to party and have fun” and then Darren came on stage and I just got lost in it all. That boy commands presence like no other. I don’t normally scream during shows, but “Do Not Fuck With Boston” really hit me and I let loose with everyone else.
At the beginning of Picture Perfect Girl Liam, who was filming, gestured for me to hold up the sign so he could catch it on tape again and he caught Darren looking over to it and winking. During the break Molly came out and brought me under the rope (I almost went the wrong way) and held my sign as I went onstage — completely confused as to where to go — and the tapes of the song on YouTube pretty much sum up the rest. I was trying so hard to just not look like an idiot and simultaneously just have fun, and you can see the result.
Liam caught me as I was going down from the stage and asked if I could be interviewed after the show, and I said yes and he led me back to the crowd and said he could get me back in the front row but I wanted to find my friends and spent the next song or so making my way towards them and we rocked out to the rest of the show. After a stellar performance we hung around for Liam and he brought us into the back staircase and I just talked about being on stage and what I thought of the show and halfway through we hear (most likely drunken) laughing and Charlene and her gang bump into my friends and thanks them all for coming and Liam had to yell at her for being loud and we finished up. I mentioned my surgery and he asked “do you still think you’ll be a picture perfect girl after Monday” and I responded with something along the lines of: “I’m pretty sure I will be, but I think Darren should have another tour so he can find out for himself” and Liam cracked up again.
He had me write my email address in his cell phone so they could send my photo to me and in case he needed me for everything else and at that point we didn’t even bother stagedooring for Darren because the entire experience was so surreal and my friends were practically crying over meeting Charlene and over all it was just a fantastic night. Thank you Liam, Molly, Darren, Char, Theo, and everyone involved. I’ve relived that night a hundred times over the last week, and it has made recovery and just… thank you. So much. You kicked ass & broke legs & changed lives. Way to go, kids.
edit (10July): :D