For two years, I worked as a reporter for the Odessa American in west Texas. My closest friend there, Melanie, was the sole entertainment writer. Which meant she got a lot of backstage passes to concerts of up-and-coming artists.
Like country singer Bryan White.
“Wanna go with me?” Mel asked me one day in 1996.
“YES!!” I shrieked. “He’s adorable.”
Mel, who much preferred Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, rolled her eyes at my enthusiasm.
Uh, yeah. I know.
So one blissful evening, I accompanied Mel to the Bryan White concert.
Before it started, we met him backstage.
“Hi!” I gushed, shaking his hand. “I love your music!”
At which point, Bryan White sneezed. Then held out his hand to Mel.
“Ewww, I don’t think so!” she said. “You go wash it. Then I’ll shake it.”
That pretty much set the tone for the interview. She interrogated little Bryan while I beamed and fawned.
So, when a few months later, Mel invited me to attend a Tab Benoit concert with her, I was skeptical.
“Who?” I asked.
“Trust me,” Mel replied. “You will love me for this.”
We ended up at an Odessa dive known for its ability to attract blues and jazz musicians.
And there was Tab.
“Look at those stupid girls,” Mel sniffed disdainfully, motioning toward a group of adoring fans who had flocked to the stage.
“Pitiful,” I agreed.
And Tab played on.
At the end of his show, Mel and I met him and his band in the kitchen of the bar, where we giggled inanely and flirted shamelessly.
“So,” Mel said, fluttering her eyelashes, “Did you have to deal with a lot of groupies tonight?”
“Nope,” Tab drawled in that honeyed accent. “Just you girls.”