After much determination and some drama around getting the time off from work (the audition process was a Tuesday-Thursday thing), I flew to Orlando and met up with my lovely little sister (“Jade”) so we could try out together.
We went straight to the audition venue to get our tickets, and like with Boston, there wasn’t a line when we got there (about 11am on the first day of registration). The people registering us said there was a huge crowd in the morning, though. After that, Jade and I went to our hotel and settled in. Both of us worked all day, and then all of the next day, taking breaks to practice and watch the coverage of Michael Jackson’s services. It was really nice to just get to spend some one-on-one time with my sister, since it’s been ages since we’ve really been able to do that.
The morning of the auditions, Jade didn’t want to wake up (at 4:00ish), and we got into a fight. So, it really was like old times. She got up, we got everything ready, and left for the auditions. The set up in Orlando was different than in Boston; they had everyone sitting outside in cordoned off areas. Jade and I found a spot by a makeshift fence/wall to lean on, and Jade promptly smoked a cigarette and laid down to sleep on my bookbag, using my hoodie (the same one as Boston!) to cover up. There was coffee available outside, for which I was most grateful. There was some drizzle, but after Boston, rain wouldn’t have fazed me. We sat next to a lesbian couple who were quite sweet (and appeared to be a really unlikely couple, but it worked for them). People were playing guitars and singing, and generally enjoying the sunrise. At some point, they started lining people up in front of the arena, and everyone started crowding to get up there faster. The American Idol workers kept saying over megaphones that there was no need to crowd; everyone’s places inside were determined by their seat ticket. As such, Jade and I took our time.
Once we were all lined up, they did some crowd shots on the roaming golf cart. The people around us all had really bad attitudes, and were all way too cool to be there. I’m the kind of person who, if I’m doing something, want to do it, and do it with enthusiasm. It’s not like anyone MADE anyone get up and get tickets to come, and then made them get up at 4 in the morning to come audition. So, since everyone CHOSE to be there, even though a lot of the hoops to jump through are totally corny, it’s a lot more fun if you embrace it and just jump in. Yes, it can be lame, and it can make you feel like a total dork, but where is the fun in a bad attitude?
They changed the group song between when we registered and audition day–it was originally listed as Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”, but changed to Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker”. Rumor was that Lady Gaga wouldn’t release the song, but I don’t know if that’s true.
Everyone got to their seats, and they began shooting crowd shots and rehearsing the group song. As the Orlando arena was indoors, there were a lot of the camera going around in circles, getting everyone. They had us say something about Disney, I think, and someone started the wave. Then they started the auditions, in much the same way. There were 12ish booths set up, and they lined people up in rows of four people to go to a booth of two producers.
I was sitting next to a woman and her 16 year old daughter, and I spent much of the day annoyed at them. The woman kept doing one of those super loud whistles through her fingers, and the daughter kept manic-depressively alternating between cackling and crying. There was a guy behind us who incessantly sang to Creed on his iPod, off key. A woman who we suspected was his mother was sitting next to him, but she was kind of pretending not to know him. It would have been annoying if it wasn’t hilarious.
I talked to Kullervo a couple of times throughout the day, and he was really sick and getting sicker and sicker. I warmed up my voice, talked to my other sister a couple of times on the phone, and just waited. Jade was still really tired and dozed a few times. We noticed that when people would get taken to the ‘we want to see more of you’ door (instead of the ‘enjoy the rest of your life’ door), awhile later, they would come back out, and were videoed sitting in the stands, watching the auditions. I assume that they video them ‘waiting to audition’ in case they get chosen to go forward, as they obviously can’t tape all 15,000 people waiting. I don’t think they were allowed to talk to anyone when they came back out.
Finally it was our turn, and we lined up to go. We walked to our spots, and watched the people in front of us audition. One guy started out by doing a crazy dance, and flubbed it. They let him start over, and it was still a crazy dance. There was a girl who was wearing a silver, sparkly dress that appeared to be way too big on her, mostly because I could see huge safety pins holding it taut in the back. Both of them made it through to the ‘we want to see more of you’ door.
The four of us went; I was last to go. When Jade went, she sang so quietly that the judges had a hard time hearing her, I think. Aside from that, she sounded really pretty. Then it was my turn, and I felt just kind of off. I was singing the Rolling Stones “Paint It, Black”. I didn’t miss any notes, but I wasn’t really on my game.
They called all of us forward, and sent us all home.
Jade drove me to the airport, and on the way I got a hold of Kullervo, who said that he was just doing really poorly. About the time I got to the airport, he told me that he needed to go to the hospital. He sounded totally out of it, so when we got off the phone for him to… I don’t know what… I called some good friends and asked if they could come watch the kids. I called Kullervo back and let him know people were on their way.
Kullervo went to the hospital and found out he had Lyme Disease (which, by the way, comes from deer ticks, no matter what Kullervo tells you). At about that time, I found out that my flight was delayed by two hours, and I’d be landing in Baltimore after the last trains would be able to take me home. I befriends a couple of guys who looked like a couple, but turned out to just be good friends who happened to also be gay. We all went in on getting a shuttle from the airport to the DC area, which was nice. Finally the plane landed, the shuttle drove (dropping me off last, I might add), and I got home.
The kids were both sick (Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease), and Kullervo was so sick it was terrifying. Everyone is better now, though, so all is right in the world.
And that pretty much covers my American Idol auditions. It’s kind of an abrupt ending, but it sort of felt abrupt at the time, too, and totally overshadowed by the enormity of Lyme Disease and how horrible it was for Kullervo while he was trying to study for the bar exam.