Just returned from spending 2 weeks in the Ecuadorian jungle with my excellent baby sister.
And oh, there are stories. Great stories. Because everybody likes snakes, right? Okay fine. But everybody loves baby monkeys. Including snakes, who like them… AS LUNCH! Har har har! Food chain humour. No? Moving on…
It’s possible that a trip which starts poorly can end well. But it is so much more enjoyable to me – as I am old and boring – when you have a trip which starts well and then continues to go well and then ends well. Like, say, how enjoyable it is to begin your trip at the airport with an auspicious sign.
Or auspicious individual.
Like Geddy. Fucking. Lee.*
I am at the airport at the ridiculously early appointed hour. The plane I’m catching is probably still on the ground in Atlanta, the baggage loaders taking a coffee break because why not, they have plenty of time. But when that plane arrives in Toronto I will be ready for it.
I pass without incident through US border control. For the first time in a long while, they don’t ask why my husband is not traveling with me. Which is good, because each time they ask, my knee-jerk cheekiness worsens. (“Guys, we have a situation. There is a fully-grown married woman travelling without her husband here. I know. I tried asking her but she just said something about it not being 1938 and then she showed me a permission slip he signed.”)
Then on past border control to baggage drop. I never ever travel with checked luggage, ever. But the little most excellent sister is working her butt off in the jungle without peanut butter and maple syrup and this cannot go on. So I am bringing a bag full of provisions. And pants. I wait behind the guy in front of me, who was just redirected to this conveyor, seems a little lost, and has quite a few bags to put on the belt. No worries. I’m in no rush.
I’m in no rush. But (you had to see this coming), HE SURE IS. The realization process in my brain goes something like this:
“Man I hate airports, they didn’t used to suck like this, it used to be an adventure and it was special not hostile okay, remember, I love my sister I love my sister do do do that guy has pretty distinctive hair I wonder if WHOOOOOLLY FUCK THAT IS GEDDY LEE IS IT GEDDY LEE I THINK IT’S GEDDY LEE YES IT IS MOST DEFINITELY GEDDY LEE GEDDY LEE GEDDY LEE”
Hubby and I will sometimes talk about celebrity culture. It’s a big old messy mixed bag. For the most part, I’m not into it. But I have tried to empathize with what motivates people to stand across the street from a hotel all day during TIFF to try and catch 10 seconds of sightline to someone who once pretended to be someone else while someone recorded it. And I circle back to the people who create things and think thoughts and say words I respect. The John Hodgmans and Joss Whedons. It’s a short list, but it’s there in my brain. A little list of people I would like to thank for being in the world and, by doing what they do the way they do it, making it more awesomer for all of us.
Two of the three members of Rush are on that list.
Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson just seem like decent talented hardworking dudes. And I respect that Neil Peart prefers not to interact with his fans. That’s not confusing and it doesn’t offend me in the least. It’s why he’s not on the list, even as I take up drums. You just keep doing what you’re doing buddy.
But, along with the little short list, it is in my brain that in It Might Get Loud, Alex Lifeson did say that if a fan “wants an autograph or a hug or something” that that is a-okay. I feel like he’s authorized my request for hug when I see him on the street. Maybe just a high-five. Whatever he’s feeling like. I’m flexible.
Geddy also said he was fine with being approached by fans. But that he’d had to reconcile himself to the idea. That it was a choice to let it bother him or not, and that he’s fine with it now. “No big deal” I believe he said.
I stand in line behind him as he loads his luggage onto the conveyor belt. And even though he’s on that very short list of people I’d assumed if I ever encountered I would definitely say “hey, just wanted to say that I think you’re fantastic”, it doesn’t… seem right.
Because it’s an airport. Because airports, even to the famous and accomplished, are just that side of hostile to humanity. Because no one wants to linger in security. Because he’s just trying to live his life. Because maybe someone saying “hey, you’re fantastic” is always welcome (especially somewhere hostile to humanity). But just as possible, he’d rather just get through here as quickly as he can. Just like the rest of us. His magical bass playing hands might not be human, but the rest of him is.
And, unless I’m wrong (which happens), I think he has that look. That slightly closed look of someone who is used to being approached, and is just sort of hoping that they aren’t going to be approached right now. Not unfriendly. Not mean. Just a bit heads down. An unspoken body language request to let him just be a dude on his way to a plane.
I end up with plenty of time to second-guess my decision to just enjoy the encounter as one-sided and let him be. We’re moving in the same clump, and I end up behind him twice more.
I am waved over for the hand wiping test thing they do now. I believe it is to test for explosives, so I’m not going to think too hard about what ensures I’m “randomly” selected every time. Geddy is not selected, but the woman administering my test says something totally unintelligible to him about how it is random and he can keep moving. He does not hear her, and steps in to have it repeated. I take the liberty of explaining that it’s random, and she said he can keep going. And so I have spoken to Geddy Lee. To explain that the hand wiping explosive testing I’m currently being subjected to by airport security doesn’t apply to him. Just how you imagined that conversation would go.
Then I go over to the plebian line for security screening, only to be redirected to the Nexus line, where I wait behind Geddy Fucking Lee. Again. I wait to put my shoes in a bucket behind Geddy Fucking Lee’s shoes. And then I pass through to reassemble myself behind Geddy Fucking Lee.
And then off he goes. Whisked through a “this secret part of the airport probably sucks considerably less” super sekkrit door.
I am not alone in recognizing him. Or, it seems, in deciding not to say anything about it (oh Canadians you adorable bastards). As soon as Geddy is out of sight, the security agent turns to the guy beside her and Rush gushes: “Do you know a band called Rush?” Him: “Huh?” Her: “RUSH! That was Geddy Lee!!”
The guy beside her did not know Rush, but, as so often happens among teh ladies, our mutual love of Rush brought us together (boom stereotypes, boom). My contained enthusiasm and surprise and happiness finally bubbles out and I gush that I know a band called Rush, and how seeing Geddy Lee just made my whole day. Her: “Mine too!”
A little bit of humanity in pre-flight. It’s not the same as getting to tell Geddy Lee he’s fantastic, but I’ll take it. Maybe next time…
*Apologies to Mr. Lee, but I am physically incapable of referring to him any way other than “Geddy Fucking Lee”. Because he is Geddy. Fucking. Lee.