As you can see by the wide smile on my daughter Megan's face, she was absolutely thrilled to meet Drake Bell, the star of Nickelodeon's now defunct hit show Drake and Josh.
Drake and his band were at the Rialto Square Theatre for a concert Saturday night.
Thanks to some connections here at the station, I was able to round up an interview with Drake the day before the show. When the interview was over, I started to ask Drake if he would do me a favor. He must have already known what I was about to ask, because he interrupted me mid-sentence and said, "do you want me to record a message for your daughters?"
He must get that a lot.
As of Friday, one day before the show, I had kept the fact that Megan and I were going to the concert a secret from her. I was holding out hope that I could get Drake to help out with my favor in the hopes of really giving Megan a thrill.
I had Drake record a message to Megan basically inviting her and myself to the Saturday show. I told Drake that we had seen him perform at the Illinois State Fair in 2007, which he included in his message, and that he was hoping to see her at the show.
After recording Drake's message, I called home and had my wife let the machine pick up. Then, I played back the audio as if Drake was personally calling our house.
After picking Megan up from school, my wife and I told her there was a special message waiting for her on the phone. We rolled some video, and captured her surprised reaction to the Drake Bell "phone call".
I'd post the video, but computer speakers all across the region would probably be destroyed by the piercing scream of joy that she let out about three seconds after the message was finished.
After she asked a few obvious questions, we let her in on how he actually got around to "calling" her, and she was fine with the reveal, and still in the same amount of shock and awe.
As we prepared for the Saturday show, Megan wanted to make a poster for Drake saying that she was the "Megan" that he left the message for. A simple "Hi Drake, I'm Megan" was designed late Saturday afternoon, complete with hearts above the i's, and a big I "heart" U at the bottom.
Then, I called the box office to ask if posters could be brought to the show. A simple "No" was the response, and that was that. Of course, once we got to the show, we noticed several fans with posters, that were allowed inside. No matter. What happened later made up for it.
We had also read something about no cameras being allowed, so, foolishly, we left our digital camera at home. Then we got to the Rialto, and noticed everybody walking in with a camera, no questions asked. Then I saw a sign on the door saying that Drake would be signing autographs after the show, and that no one would be turned away.
Fortunately, we were there early enough, and we live close enough that I was able to call my wife and convince her to bring the camera to the Rialto for us to use during the night. I couldn't let this opportunity pass.
And, if we were to get to say a quick "Hi" to Drake in the autograph line, the need for the poster was gone now.
The show was good, a real solid set of fun, upbeat songs, and the appropriate amount of squeals from the primarily young female audience.
Afterward, Megan and I met up with a classmate and her dad, and we waited in the autograph line. Since we stayed for all of the songs, unlike others that preferred a better spot in line, we were at the back of the pack of autograph seekers. It was worth it, though.
As we got closer, Megan grew more and more excited. I had purchased a Drake Bell poster for her before the show, and that was what we handed over for Drake to sign. As we got to him, I told him that I was the one who interviewed him the day before, and he smiled and shook my hand. I then introduced him to Megan, the subject of his message. He smiled, shook her hand, and asked if she got his message.
Megan looked at him with a wide-eyed grin and shook her head yes. Speechless, but at least not totally unresponsive.
He kindly allowed us to take his picture with Megan, and it capped off a great two days of fun for my daughter. And me.
Yep, I'm a fan. As I mentioned in the interview, I always thought he was funny, from watching him portray the Tony Soprano-esque "Tony Pajamas" on the old Amanda Show, all the way through his time on Drake and Josh.
Plus, his music is very adult-friendly as well. His main influence is the Beatles, so it doesn't take long to follow along with his music, and find some common ground. He's talented, and watching him work the fans in his autograph line, he seems to get it, which I respect.
He went out of his way, even if just for a few seconds, and gave my daughter a couple of memories that she'll always have, and a few days she'll never forget.