Thursday, August 07, 2008

PCB on assignment: 2008 San Diego Chargers Fan Fest (Part 2) 

Posted by Sasha at 11:39 PM ET

The saga continues...
Return to Part 1
Or go right to my Flickr album.

Anyway, as I was saying, Tonya and Giselle made their way around the field, signing autographs. I was at the railing right over them, snapping away. I thought perhaps I should holler their names so they’d look up and I could snap a photo, but I couldn’t make myself do it. I thought to myself “Sasha, do it for the blog.” As it turns out, there are limits to my love for you guys.

Michelle, Giselle, and Tonya


I’m sorry folks, I really am. But it reminded me too much of the night my friends and I went to a New Kids on the Block concert and then spent the night camped out under Joe McIntyre’s hotel window. We stayed up all night singing NKOTB songs, screaming our fool heads off, and praying to God he’d pull the curtain aside and take just one tiny peek out the window. So. Not. Cool.

As God is my witness, I’ll never be a groupie again. It is one thing to admire another person’s talent. It is quite another to emblazon their face on your t-shirt and shriek their name as they walk by.

Nope. Not gonna do it.

And I really hope my mom never reads this blog because to this day she doesn’t know that my friends and I totally lied and said we were sleeping over each others house. We took the Red Line downtown, watched the concert, had some nameless older kids drive us to the NKOTB hotel, and spent the night on the sidewalk like homeless people. Had she known that her pre-teen daughter was wandering the streets of Washington D.C. with no adult supervision whatsoever, she would have gone absolutely ballistic. It was SO fun. But I don’t know what we were thinking.

So that is why you did not, and will not EVER see me hanging over a railing, shrieking some cheerleader’s name. My God, they’re just people. Sparkly costumes notwithstanding.

Getting back to the story, I got lots of autograph photos. Some good. Some not so good. I’m sharing the good ones with you. If you are particularly fond of blurry photos, email me, because I have several hundred of those as well.

Making My Move
After doing autographs at the fence, the Charger Girls gathered under a canopied VIP area. It was in a corner of the stadium, pretty close to the stands. However, the two seating sections wrapping around that corner were taped off with yellow and black caution tape.

On an unrelated note, I really think someone should come up with some other kind of tape besides caution tape. Maybe tape that says “please stay out.” Or even “have a nice day” with a little happy face. There’s no need to make the place look like a crime scene.

I sat just outside of the caution tape, clicking away, and evaluating my options. When people started to jump over the tape and head down to the front, I waited to see if they’d get booted out. When they didn’t, I climbed over too. It couldn’t be that easy. Could it?

I'm going in

I got all the way down to the front and saw Lacy walking around. Lacy is a former CG who now works for the organization. She retired fairly recently – 2005 I believe – so many of you probably recognize her. When she got close enough to my area, I took a deep breath and flagged her down.

Lacy zips by

This is always the worst part of the experience. Would this woman look at me like I’m crazy, and back away? Would this be another experience like my run-in with the Evil Tall Woman in Oxnard?

But no. Lacy was perfectly nice. I introduced myself and asked to speak with Tonya and Giselle. She said ok and bustled off somewhere. A minute or so later, she came back and said Tonya was coming over. And then she said – get this – “I’m sorry, but we’re not cleared for any interviews today.” And she said it NICELY, like “hey, I’d honestly help you out if I could, but we just don’t have the green light for that.” She treated me like I was a member of the legit media and not some random chick with a camera. I appreciated this. This was not a repeat of the Evil Tall Woman experience. It was in fact the exact opposite. I said no-no-no, I only want to take a couple of photos and then I’m outta here.

Little did Lacy know, the very last thing I wanted was an "interview." I am not a reporter. I am not a writer. What I am is nosy and stubborn. I want to ask people questions. I want to know about their lives. But I do NOT want to interview them. Interviewing people is taking it to a whole ‘nother level.

First of all, I’d have to come up with some questions. Some genuinely interesting questions. It seems like every interviewer asks the same boring things.
1. What’s the best thing about being a Charger Girl?
2. Is this your full-time job? (Followed closely by “what do you do for a living?)
3. What’s your most prized possession?
4. If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

BOR-RING. I want somebody to ask the questions I want to know the answers to.
1. How many times did you audition before you made the team?
2. What is the honest-to-pete weirdest thing about being a Charger Girl?
3. What’s the best, least expected bonus to being a Charger Girl?
4. How do you stand out there in that outfit all day and NOT get a farmer tan. (This is a question I’d really like to know the answer to.)

Secondly, assuming I came up with some questions, I’d have to narrow that down to those that are (a) appropriate, (b) allowed, and (c) of interest to anyone besides myself.

Thirdly, I’d have to reach down. I’m talking wwaaaay down inside and dredge up some kind of cool. There must be some in there. Then I’d have to figure out how to maintain that cool for at least five or ten minutes.

And fourthly, I haven’t a clue how to do a proper interview. I want to talk. I want to listen. I want to write things down. I want to take photos. I want the walk out the door at the end and retain some memory of how I just spent the last ten minutes of my life. And I have no idea how to do any TWO of those things at the same time, let alone all of them.

So yeah, no interviews.
If only for my sake.
God Bless you, Lacy. You have hereby been added to the aforementioned List of Cool People Who Most Emphatically Do Not Suck.

Lacy brought Tonya over. Tonya is a sweetheart. I mean that literally. She’s a Sweetheart. She’s been part of Sweethearts for Soldiers since its inception, as she is a close friend of the chief chick in charge (the aforementioned Bari.). The SFS have a lot going on these days. Tonya does a lot of the organizational stuff, but isn’t able to go on as many trips due to her CG obligations. Right now, the Sweethearts are wrapping up a photo shoot and planning another trip to Afghanistan. Then after that, another trip to Iraq. She was pretty excited about it, just as you would be for any trip abroad. But she was pretty casual about the fact that it was AFGHANISTAN. I mean, Iraq – ok. Sure it’s a war zone, but lots of people go there. Afghanistan, on the other hand, scares the ever lovin’ crap outta me. Bad things happen there.

Tonya and Jenny

I have to wonder – since the SFS aren’t affiliated with an NFL franchise – how this whole thing works out logistically. I mean, do you just call over there and say “Hey, Mr. Military Man, me and my girls are coming over for a few days. Can we crash at your place? Also, could you pick us up at the airport?” I don’t get it.

Anyway, I liked Tonya tremendously, so there’s another name added to my list. Part Charger Girl, part Sweetheart, part regular human being. It kinda makes me feel like my life should be busier. (Did I mention, by the way, that Tonya is a former Arizona Cardinals Cheerleader and a former Redskins Cheerleader?)

Giselle was next on deck. Giselle is someone I met very briefly at last year’s Clippers audition. We spoke for maybe five seconds, so we’re practically BFFs. Unfortunately, she wasn’t selected for the team last year. I was a little disappointed when she didn’t try again last month. Then her friend Jen told me Giselle is now a CG, so I decided to look her up at Fan Fest. Giselle is super-nice, so - you guessed it – she also goes on the List. (I’ve decided that if I meet one more CG and she turns out to be cool, I might as well add the whole team to the List. None of this one-at-a-time business.) I can’t tell you how excited I am Giselle is a CG. It is always extra special when a girl who got cut before puts in the time, does the work, gathers up the courage to audition again, and is selected for the team. You GO Giselle.


Right about then was when the security guys came around again and told all us fence-hoppers to scram.

As I climbed the steps once again I thought it really would be nice if more people could meet the Charger Girls, or really any of the teams we talk about on this blog. They are all good people. Evil can’t flourish in this environment.

And PS: there was also some football going on.

What is he DOING?

Impending Doom
It was pretty warm outside, so I went out to the concourse for a soda. The nice lady at the concession stand said the sodas were way too expensive, so she was going to make sure I got my money’s worth. She filled the cup all the way to the tippy top, which was great because I was powerful thirsty. I sipped it a bit so it wouldn’t spill, and headed back to my seat

This is when things started to go horribly wrong – again.

Halfway down the stairs, I totally bit it. Missed a step and slid down a couple of stairs. It was bad enough to skin my knee and my ankle and scratch up my calf, but not bad enough that someone would come over and actually offer to help. Evidently.

What about the soda, you ask? It sloshed all over my hand and down one leg. Lovely. Thank goodness I was wearing black shorts. I hobbled over to an aisle seat and patted myself down with some napkins. It was a big cup of soda – one of those big yellow souvenir cups – so I had plenty left to drink. I sat. I sipped. I inventoried the physical damage to my person.

I now have a scab in the weirdest place – at the bottom of my leg – right where the bottom of my leg meets the top of my foot. Ouch! How do you injure yourself there?

Ok, do this – but read these instructions first. You have to actually do it in order to have the full experience, so GET UP.

Go to the kitchen and get a glass of water then come back and get down on your knees. Sit down into it so your butt is touching your heels and the tops of your feet are pressed against the floor. Now, if you can manage it, take your right leg and straighten it out in front of you. Your tush should still be sitting on your left heel.

Are you still with me?

Pick up the water in one hand and imagine a flight of concrete steps beneath you. Imagine the edge of one step is under your right calf. Imagine the edge of another – much higher - step is right where your left leg meets your left foot. Now dump the water all over yourself. That’s how I fell. And now you have relived the moment with me.

This is not even the worst part yet. The worst part was five minutes later, when I noticed people jumping the fence again. The security guys were looking the other way, so about ten people got all the way down by the VIP section where the Charger Girls were signing autographs. Fine. Whatever. I didn’t really need to be down there. I needed to sit for a while and look at my bloody knee and feel sorry for myself. And hate on all the people around me who didn’t rush over to offer assistance. Jerks.

Nicole M.

But then I saw Lisa Simmons down there. Crapola. Now I had to go down there – if only to apologize for calling her on her personal cell phone. And to say thank you and all that good stuff.

What am I supposed to do?
I am bleeding and the leg of my shorts is wet.
But Lisa is standing right there, and in a minute, she’s either going to go under the tent or the security guys are going to tell everyone down there to move.

Hello Rock. Hello Hard Place. Thanks for scooting over so I can sit right there between you.

There was no decision to be made. I carefully eased my poor bloody self over the railing, down to the section below, and made my way down the stairs.

(At this point, I should probably fess up. I had maybe two drops of blood on my knee. But bloody is bloody and I was – and am – still deserving of much sympathy.)

Charger Girl Katrina was signing autographs. I got one photo of her and then wouldn’t you know it, here came the security guys, telling everyone to leave. I thought about telling one of them I was injured, but I would’ve had to swing my leg over the wall so he could see my knee. He might’ve thought I was trying to climb over the wall though. Since I didn’t want to get a face full of pepper spray or bashed with a baton, or whatever those guys were supposed to do when people act up, I decided to return to my seat.

At that moment, a little voice inside me spoke up. “Oh no,” it said. “You will not take no for an answer. You will not let the Evil Tall Woman win.” (Metaphorically speaking of course.) So I turned back around and waved to one of the security guys down on the field. He came over, and I asked in my most brisk, business-like voice, for him to please go get that woman in the suit over there.

Another security guy came over to see what I wanted. I pointed to Lisa. “See that woman over there? Not the cheerleader, the one next to her, in the suit. That’s Lisa. Can you ask her to come over here for a moment?”

The guy was all “I don’t know if we can do that…” so I gave him my best “hey, we’re all buddies here, right?” smile.

Then he asked the million dollar question. “Does she know you?”

Well crap. How am I supposed to answer that?

I guess technically she knows my name, but we exchanged vmails ONE time, so she probably didn’t remember. (Besides, I happen to know that she gets TONS of vmail because the first couple of times I tried to call, her mailbox was full. I only tried twice. Honest.)

I bluffed. (What else could I do?) “Yes, she knows me. Tell her it’s Sasha.”
The guard was all “Ok, but I don’t know if she’ll come over.”
I told him that’s fine. I understand. Nobody wants to be the server who has to tell a dude the girl he bought a drink for turned it down.

But Lisa did come over – thank you, Lord – and Lacy came with her.

We talked for a few moments. I thanked her and we shook hands and parted company. THAT was when the absolute worst part of the whole entire day happened. Not falling asleep at the wheel. Not missing my exit. Not standing waaay too close to my fellow human beings whilst waiting for the gates to open. Not sitting on the wrong side of the stadium. Not climbing over railings with the grace of a hippo on a high wire. Not getting chased out of the VIP seats twice. Not falling down and scraping the skin off various parts of my lower extremities.

No. The worst thing ever was after I shook hands with Lisa, I realized my hand was still a little sticky from the soda I’d spilled. Not icky sticky like glue. Not "Four year old with a lollipop" sticky. Our hands didn’t stick together. But it was soda residue. And it was sticky enough to know that it was definitely not not sticky. She didn’t make a face, wipe her hand on her skirt or give any indication that anything was amiss, but I knew. I knew I had soda on my hand. GAH!!

How mortifying. How uncouth. How unbelievably tacky. She probably thought I wiped my nose with my bare hand or something and then shook her hand. GROSSSS!!!!

I can now state with all confidence that it is physically impossible to die from sheer embarrassment alone. Because if that were possible, I would have dropped on the spot. There I was, trying to make a good impression, and my hand was sticky. It was probably the least classy moment of my whole entire life.

Days later, I am no less distraught.
What must Lisa think?
I am appalled. Horrified. Inconsolable.

But even in my horror, I noticed that those Charger Girls never run out of sharpies. They had them tucked in everywhere. If on one sharpie dies, just reach down and whip another one out of your boot. One girl had one tucked into the back of her blouse. Was that on purpose, I wonder? Or was she scratching her back and left the pen there by accident?

On a side note, probably the weirdest thing about being a Charger Girl is being attacked by small children. This girl came flying out of nowhere.

And this little boy was literally trying to bring her down.

Thankfully the rest of the event passed without incident. I shrunk way down in my chair and shot some more photos, but my heart wasn’t in it anymore. When it was over, I trudged dejectedly to my car.

Yes, I realize I’m being melodramatic, but honestly, I am so so SO bummed. I didn’t cry about it or anything, but a person likes to be respected. And it’s hard to get respect when you’re sticky.

But I’d like to end this on a high note, so…the good news is after all that, I did manage to get some good shots. There are a few here in this post, and the rest are in my Flickr album.

And I just realized – our friend David who often covers the Charger Girls – probably attended Fan Fest too. And hopefully, he’ll have some good photos to share.

Meanwhile, I am seriously rethinking my plan to track down the Chiva Girls at the next Chivas USA home game. My “bummer” account for the month is totally maxed out.

Then again, a little humiliation is good for the soul, isn’t it? I’m told it builds character.

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