2 a.m. - Yawn... up to get ready for the taxi to the airport.
3:15 a.m. - We're off! Napped a bit along the way. Got to the airport and had a scone, Jason had a sandwich and OJ. Not much food selection.
8 a.m. - A loooooooooooooong flight from SF to Philly, nearly 5 hours Very tired. In-flight movie was Adam Sandler in "Click." OK, kind of funny at times but not great. Reset watch to EST.
4 p.m. (EST) Here we are, first time on the east coast! Philly airport is huge, finally made our way via shuttle to the gate for our connecting flight to Islip airport. Again, no real food conveniently located. Took off for Islip around 7 p.m.
8:30 p.m. - Arrive at hotel, and we were met by the official Contardoholics welcoming committee in the lobby! As we entered, I heard an excited voice saying "There's Cheryl!" and Linda rushed over to greet me with a big hug. We were then greeted by Krispy, JoJo and Barry too. We said our hellos happily, but didn't stay to visit long, as we were absolutely famished and exhausted. We checked in, went to our room and ordered room service - at that moment, those cheeseburgers were the food of the gods! Ate then went right to sleep. It was going to be a long weekend!
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2006
8 a.m. - Woke up and got dressed and ready for the day - started to feel alive again. Relaxed and had coffee and room service breakfast - cereal and toast. Feels good to have had a good night's sleep, getting excited about meeting Johnny, wondering where and when we'll run into each other first. Hotel is really nice. Looking forward to getting together with Linda, too! Nice to relax today, so glad we didn't wait until the day before the meet-and-greet to arrive. We'll need this day of downtime to get refreshed and relaxed. Looking forward to whatever the Lord brings our way today.
11 a.m. - We go out to the lobby, and Linda comes just a couple minutes later. She says that Johnny will be ariving in about an hour. She's even more nervous than I am! She told me she had a birthday gift for me, and I replied "Ooooh, where is he?" :)
12 noon - Friday, October 27, 2006, noon Eastern Standard Time, a moment that will go down in history - I MET JOHNNY!!!!!!!!! He looked great and was very warm and friendly when Linda introduced us and he shook my hand. Krispy, JoJo and Mary were there too, and later, Lois arrived too. Linda, Johnny and his niece Anna went to the hotel bar and restaurant, The Brickyard, to check it out for the show tomorrow, and to have lunch. The rest of us watched some SNN TV show footage on JoJo's computer in the lobby, and Krispy gave me a couple of Contardoholics buttons she made. We all went to lunch, and they just happened to seat us at the big table right next to Johnny's table! It was like trying to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room, trying not to look over there every two seconds and play it cool. Krispy, subtle one that she is, was getting rather, shall we say, hot under the collar, and Johnny noticed and was teasing her mercilessly as she fanned herself, calling her a "hot tamale" - which of course quickly became her new official nickname! After a while, Johnny brought over his copy of Orange Coast Magazine to show us the article they did on him. We all passed it around - very lovely photo and a nice article. Enjoyed our lunch and finally left. Johnny, Linda, Anna (and Barry, who came later and sat at their table) were still there when we left. I can't believe I finally met Johnny! Can't wait for he show and meet-and-greet tomorrow.
5 p.m. - Jason's napping, and I'm watching TV and relaxing. I've been reflecting on what a blessing it is to be here, how the Lord provided us the opportunity for this exciting, once-in-a-lifetime trip to meet Johnny and all his fans. What a privilege it is to be here, praise the Lord for His goodness and his always-surprising ways of blessing us.
6:45 p.m. - Linda calls. "Johnny's singing in the bar, get here NOW!" He was singing "Under The Boardwalk" at the karaoke bar. She said he did "Secret Agent Man" before that, and that it was great. We then went to dinner, where many of the gang were already at a table, so we took a small table next to them. Linda took off with Johnny. Well, I've officially had my first live Johnny concert, even if it was just one song. Tomorrow, the real show - yay!
10 p.m. Linda called to invite me to Krispy and JoJo's room for some video viewing and drooling. We swooned and giggled like teenagers, and had a great time watching Johnny footage from the TV show. Krispy and JoJo were working on a WELCOME CONTARDOHOLICS banner for the meet and greet. We had a lot of fun, then I went back to the room a little after midnight to get some much-needed sleep.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2006
9:15 a.m. - THE BIG DAY! Waiting for room service to bring breakfast. Can't wait until tonight!
11:30 a.m. - What a storm! WIndy and pouring rain - thankfully we're inside, safe and ready for the show tonight. Hope nobody coming today has problems getting here. Having a Contardoholics lunch at the Brickyard at 1. Sitting here relaxing in the lobby, saw Lois and Mary, but nobody else from the group yet this morning.
3:45 p.m. Had a great lunch with everybody, over a dozen people. Johnny songs were playing in the background from Krispy's CD. Too excited to eat much of my french dip sandwich. At 7:30, we'll meet for about an hour before the show, where they'll also be playing his music in the background, and then the show/concert for the public, and after that, the meet and greet. Getting so excited, can't wait!
4:30 p.m. - A lady named Lee, who just got in, stopped by the room with a gift bag to thank me for the website, how unbelievably sweet of her! It was a pumpkin pie scented Yankee Candle. I can't believe the kindness of everybody.
6:30 p.m. - Just couldn't wait, so we went down to the bar stage area. The show's two hours away, but several of us are already there. After a while, they start playing Johnny music on the speakers, and we're singing along and getting so excited!
8:30 p.m. To the intro of "Old Time Rock and Roll," Johnny makes his entrance. Everyone goes nuts, and he sings a few songs, looking great in a black t-shirt and pants, and sounding fantastic. He then says that he wants to take a moment to say something. He started talking about how a few years ago, he found out about a website about him.... I just about froze! Johnny went on to say some very sweet things about me and the site. And then, he proceeded to sing "Happy Birthday" to me!!!!!! I was just so touched and honored. When he was saying those kind words, he looked me right in the eye, and just looked so sincere. I was absolutely melting! Johnny had to rely on the bar's karaoke for his background music, as the CD he brought was somehow incompatable with their system. He said he was going to sing "Those Magic Changes," but couldn't since they didn't have it on karaoke. Everyone was disappointed, and he said "what, are you going to sing along with me?" We applauded our approval, and the whole room started singing a capella, "What's that playing on the radio, why do I start swaying to and fro?..." and sang the whole song together, what a moment! Absolute magic, no pun intended. He sang some more songs, then took a few requests like "Chances Are" and "(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet." We then adjourned to the restaurant for the meet and greet. We all sat at tables and Johnny, who'd changed into a grey t-shirt, made his way to every table, spending several minutes at each table, chatting, taking pictures and signing autographs, as well as giving everyone a copy of the CD he made especially for everyone who attended. Johnny finallly made it to our table and sat right next to me (AHHHHHH!) He asked about our flight and how long we were staying in NY. He also asked me about the good CD copies I have of his solo albums that I brought copies of for Linda, and I told him I'd make him copies and send them to him. We got our picture taken together cheek-to-cheek (swoon... and he smelled SO good, Linda says he wears Joop), and then Linda and I wanted one with the three of us, and she whispered that we should turn and kiss him on the cheek when they snapped the picture. So we did! Johnny laughed and said "you girls are too funny!" And since about three other people, including Johnny, wanted that shot too, we had to pose a few times - what a shame! A Contardo sandwich, and wasn't it delicious?! They also had a yummy, beautiful photo cake that Lisa brought, a canolli cake. Finally, Johnny left and we all headed to our rooms.
Midnight - Linda calls. She, Krispy, JoJo, Barry, Mary and Nancy are in Johnny's room having a party! Since he left to stay with his sister who lives nearby instead of staying at the hotel that night, he left his key with Linda, and she stayed in there. He left a barely-touched gin and tonic on the table, and several of us took a sip from his glass - nasty stuff, but somehow irresistible... I took the swizzle stick as a souvenir! Linda gave me a birthday gift in a Hershey gift bag - a couple of Hershey bars, a nightshirt and a candle that looked exactly like a can of Hershey chocolate syrup. How sweet of her! We laughed and giggled for quite a while, being totally silly, until we finally parted ways to our respective rooms to crash after the big day was finally over.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2006
9 a.m. Met Krispy, JoJo, Linda, Nancy, Lois and her daughter for breakfast. Had a great visit with everyone, lots of fun. We were all gushing over how amazing the show was last night. We decide we might have a little video viewing party a little later to watch footage of the show. Relax most of the day.
9:30 p.m. Linda callls. JoJo has had a headache most of the day, and everyone's pretty tired, but she invites me to her room (she kept Johnny's old room instead of going back to her old one) to hang out for a bit. As exhausted as we all are, we just aren't quite ready for our weekend to be over yet. She gave me the washcloth he left behind in the room as a souvenir! JoJo and Krispy came by in a little while and we watched Krispy's video of the show, which turned out great. Of course, I melted to see him sing "Happy Birthday" to me again! Then, about midnight, we all went our separate ways for good, as we were all going home tomorrow (everyone else had already left by now). We made our fond farewells with hugs all around for these new friends that I feel like I've known all my life. I went back to my room, tired and ready to head home tomorrow, but still soaring with joy from the unbelievable time I had this weekend, flull of fun, laughter, friendship, and many precious memories that I will never forget.
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