She tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Do you know how to make this light stick work?” My daughter Gigi took her light stick, cracked it and made it glow to its warm red color. “It’s easy, see?” Gigi said, adding, “Are you at the concert by yourself?” Gayle was attending alone, sitting behind us in Row D. At 11 years old, Gigi didn’t even know who Barry Manilow was. At quite a bit over 11, I remembered Barry Manilow from high school but wouldn’t have bought tickets to a concert then or probably now. But our friend Ann’s mother had taken ill and she gave us the tickets just days before. What a hoot, I thought, to see Barry Manilow live. Gigi and I went to YouTube the night before and played more than a few Barry Manilow videos to prepare ourselves.
Now, we readied our light sticks which I imagine are the modern equivalent of cigarette-lighters-at-concerts from back in the day and we began to talk to Gayle. This was her more than 20th Barry Manilow concert and she had loved him since she was 10. Gigi and I felt a little sheepish admitting we were even at the concert much less that it was our first one and that we were only in Row C by the accident of a friend’s mother’s illness.
The 7:30 start time at The Chicago Theater came and went and we continued talking to Gayle. She lived downtown and worked at a social media company. Oh, and she told us she was a writer of sorts, secretly writing short stories about life without the courage to try to publish any of them. I couldn’t resist. “Gayle, you are in social media. Of all people you know about creating a platform for writing. You just have to start. Start with a blog,” I suggested.
“It’s funny you say that,” she mused. “Just this morning I went to a program on social media and the advice was that there is never a good starting point so you just have to start. What are the chances I’d hear the very same message on the very same day.”
“The chances are very good,” I said, drawing on my own experiences with this sort of serendipity. “When we are ready to do something, I think we get the same message many times over. It’s just that we work very hard to ignore it. Gayle, the universe is telling you to just start. Take it from me, you should just get started.”
It was 8:10 p.m. and an announcer finally let us know that the concert was minutes from starting. Gigi waved her glow stick in anticipation. The crowd filled in while we were talking and the theater was now full.
“You know Gayle, Gigi and I were not supposed to be at this concert. It’s only through serendipity that we are. You want to write. I’m in the same boat. Maybe it wasn’t a coincidence that we connected,” I said.
Gayle nodded her agreement and handed me her card. “Stranger things have happened. I think I need to get started with my blog.”
The curtain rose and all lights were on Barry Manilow. He opened with It’s a Miracle.
As the Chicago Tribune said in its review of the evening, even now he writes the songs that make his fans sing.
With so much inspiration in the air, it was nice to find some of our own.
- Joel Schwartzberg: It’s Still Man-ly to Like Manilow, Especially on Barry’s Birthday (huffingtonpost.com)
- Barry Manilow donates piano to Ky. school district (seattletimes.nwsource.com)