There for Tomorrow, Every Avenue and William Beckett in Manila Part I
It was not a drunken midnight on the streets, brightly dusted with a neon light. We didn’t duck behind the corner store, smoking smokes while someone kept a watchful eye.
But, shit, I know I say this every time something noteworthy happens, but I don’t think anything would top June 12th as the best day of our lives any time soon. If at all, even.
I got to the MRT station at around 8:30, and I was worried that there’d be long lines, and my stored value card was missing, so I thought I’d be pressed for time. But when I stepped off the jeep, there were no lines at all and rides were free until nine in the morning because it’s Independence Day, so that was a nice perk!
I set foot in Crowne Plaza at exactly 9am as planned. As soon as I went in to the restaurant on the second floor, there they were: Jay Enriquez, passing by me. Dave Strauchman, grabbing food from the buffet, approximately a foot away from me. Jimmie Deeghan. Christian Climer.
Man, the feeling just never gets old.
Rian and Pat joined me soon after, and we had breakfast (the bread wasn’t as good as Intercon’s, but it’s really good anyway) and chatted as “band dudes were on the loose.” That still cracks me up, the way it makes it sound as if it’s a petting zoo, or something. Anyway, we saw Matt Black, too.
And then Chris Kamrada came along.
When someone with arms (and, um, everything else) that good walks around in a black tank and sits with his back to you while he eats, it’s pretty hard not to stare. But I stayed strong, if only to remind myself that, well, he’s taken. (Yes, Julienne Tallo, this means you.)
So strong, in fact, that when he started to get up from his table after breakfast and, presumably, make his way back to his room, I looked away immediately. In my peripheral vision I saw him turn back around to face us and walk forward.
He’s probably just getting something from the buffet, I told myself.
Pat and Rian tensed up, eyes wide. Nope, nope, still couldn’t look at him.
“Are you guys excited for the show tonight?”
Don’t look, don’t look…ah, I give up.
So. God damn. Beautiful.
“Yeah, yeah, definitely!” we all said, and he smiled and nodded.
“Hey Chris?” Rian said, “Will you guys go hang out at the merch booth after the show?”
He smiled wider. “Yes. Yes, of course! I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Then he waved. “See you guys later.”
Let’s just say he left a bunch of giddy girls at the table.
You know you’re going to have an amazing day when Chris Kamrada goes out of his way to approach your table and make small talk. Without being prodded. On his own. Like he actually wants to. (I’ll believe he did.)
We just explored the hotel and stayed at the cafe lounge thing for a while. We were sitting by the escalators when all of a sudden Dave gets on the downward escalator and waves. We all wave back, ready to say hi…until we found out the wave wasn’t directed at us. Oops. It was pretty funny.
We went back up for the bathroom and when we got back to the cafe, all the tables were taken, so we just stood around. Dave was now sitting with the Dayly employees and Jimmie went down for a bit, so that was cool. The people in the table next to Dave’s left, so we sat down.
Which is when Maika Maile and Christian walked up from the lobby and sat right next to our table.
They were really cool and really nice and Christian started counting money. I could probably say that better, sorry, but yeah, they’re such amazing guys. “How’s the Philippines?” I asked Maika, and he replied, “Oh, it’s going great so far! We haven’t had the chance to roam around but we’re definitely so glad to be here.” Then, oh my god, he tipped his hat back, flapped his collar back and forth as if to fan himself, and said, “Is it me, or is it really hot in here?”
Honestly. Come on.
I was going to throw the banter back but my equally stunned friends stammered a bunch of “No, it’s really this hot here”s and “The Philippine weather is naturally this stuffy”s.
We’ll leave the flirting to Julienne next time.
Jay also went down and we said hi and Rian and Pat talked to him about Muse. After that they mostly sat around and Rian took more photos of them. We were all looking at each other, like, “Talk to them!” but I felt unworthy and shy, being a new convert to their music, and all. So we stayed quiet.
If only for a little while, really, because—
“Fiel. Fiel. Fiel.” Rian nudged me forcefully. I knew right away. He wasn’t at breakfast, he woke up late because he had a late night (he had a laaaaaaate night!), he ordered room service because he’s a hugeass diva.
Reluctantly, I turned.
“Rian, I can’t,” I muttered, frozen in place, watching as hordes of girls suddenly materialized and swarmed around Bill. Bill. He’s here. He’s real. “It’s happening, Rian, it’s actually happening.”
I tried to laugh as Pat posed with the Beckett Backside but I was shaking, I was so nervous, I couldn’t think straight. I was waiting it out, letting everyone go first because I didn’t want my moment with William to be hurried. There for Tomorrow were also intently watching with a curious interest, since, as Julienne let me know, they were new to this kind of adoration.
It was overwhelming, knowing that many people still care about and love William Beckett. All this time I thought he was forgotten, still navigating choppy waters, but no. He’s a legend in his own right, underrated, yes, but respected and relevant nonetheless.
But these people, with their short attention spans and interests so carefully molded around whoever was in the country at the moment, they were taking way too long with him. They got their shit signed, they’ve asked him thoughtless questions (Honestly, “Are you going to perform TAI songs later?” So much secondhand embarrassment. You call yourself a fan and you can’t even do the simple thing of catching up with set lists or news or gossip or, jeez, common sense.), they’ve asked for pictures. But still they lingered and wouldn’t let anyone get in the way.
Courtesy, please, or something?
I mean, I was not standing there feeling entitled, or anything stupid like that. I was just fucking worried that I waited so long for this, had my heart practically broken over it, never even thought I’d live to see it, and here was my chance, but there were so many people (literally) in the way. I’m happy for everyone, really. But come on. You guys had your chances, now give me mine.
The last thing I needed was for him to be ushered away without so much as a glance at me.
Pat was able to get something for her friend and an autograph saying “Oh, Love!” She also got a video of him saying “Mahal kita,” which is so adorable, it hurts.
I’ll always love Pat for grabbing my arm and dragging me beyond the huge group of people and forcing me in front of Bill. (And for taking pictures, of course.) While trying to catch his attention he said, “I’ll get right to you, sweetie,” and I swear I could’ve turned into an actual puddle of honey right there.
“Hey, Bill, I run BeckettPH!” “What’s that?” “It’s-it’s your Philippine street team.” “Oh, yes!” And here he touched my shoulder, looked right at me, and smiled. “Thank you!”
When I got him to sign my TAI CDs, I told him that I have Walk the Talk to but that it wasn’t with me at the moment. And he said, “Thank you, that means a lot. Well, I also have copies later at the merch table.”
I’m not looking my best here and dear god he’s so tall (I told him so, what the heck) but, ugh, life is perfect. (P.S., he totally smelled like liquor. Which to me seems totally Hemingway-ish of him but still, he’s so precious and kind and earnest and polite.)
When I hugged him, I didn’t want to let go. Also, he kind of rubs backs when he takes pictures with people (I guess it’s the locomotive equivalent of stuttering), so, shit, that was more than nice.
Then I asked to take a picture of him (Rian and I have found that photographing musicians is one of the best things on this earth), and he did this pose, his signature pose, and I wanted to curl up at his feet and die. Rian actually said, “I love that pose!” and he laughed.
And I don’t know how it happened but somehow he was alone and nobody was bothering him and he started talking to us.
“I just want to say how glad I am that you’re finally here in Manila,” I told him. “We waited so long, we love you.” And he grinned—it felt amazing to be looking right at him, the sun reflecting off his eyes, which are looking right back into mine, so that they looked simultaneously bright and deep, like they could be the sun themselves, his hair falling just beneath his eyes, actually so much better than you could ever imagine from photographs, yet it’s not even about how beautiful he is, which he is, but it’s about how they proved his presence right then, he was flesh and blood and bones real—said, “Well, I’m here now.” Words so short, so simple, yet so true, they were practically anchors to me.
Pat mentioned the Genevieve and Daddy-O song (so adorable!) and William just perked up and high-fived her. I asked, “Does she go to school?” and he said, “Yeah, yeah, she does.” “She seems really smart,” Pat added, and I blurted, “Like her father,” before I could even double-think it. He chuckled and said, “Yeah, she’s in kindergarten,” looking and sounding so animated, you could practically feel the love he has for Evie just radiating off him. I bet he would’ve talked about her for hours, if he could.
I’m so glad we got to know Daddy-O!Bilvy.
Finally, I remembered something. “Hey, William, remember the girl who tweeted you Girl, You Shoulda Been a Pirate lyrics?” There’s a spark of recognition in his eyes and he laughed slightly and said, “Yeah!” and I said, “That’s me!” and he laughed some more and said, “Really? That’s awesome!”
“Will you please sing it with us?” Rian and I asked, but he only smiled sheepishly and politely declined with, “Later, when I’m warm.”
I didn’t get to cross “Sing Girl, You Shoulda Been a Pirate with him” off my Beckett List (get it? get it?), but, damn, William told us to wait until he’s warm.
Dems. Da. Breaks.
“R(h)iannon!” Perfect. He knows the Fleetwood Mac song, ugh, bonus points! So happy for Rian.
I got his stripper name, but more on that later. We also got his ghetto name (“Skinny Lemonaid!”), and he said he liked the method of formulating it, that it’s cute! I was pretty giddy because Rian and I thought of said process—first adjective that pops into your head, and candy/something sweet.
Bill headed back upstairs to fix some things, and he and Dave ~*shared a kiss!*~ Not really a kiss-kiss, but it was something. It sure was a moment everyone would wish they had been there to see!
Jimmie’s eyes are glorious, and he’s honestly so sweet!
Oh! I almost forgot. Rian got all There for Tomorrow boys to talk to Julienne on her phone. Christian was confused because she’s “Chris Kamrada” in Rian’s contacts, which was a pretty cute and funny moment. They all expressed concern that she wasn’t there with us, aw!
“Hey, Juls, someone wants to talk to you!” When Rian handed the phone over to Maika I just about had a heart attack when he pressed the phone to his ear and was like, “Hi Juls!” like they’re old friends. “Oh, it’s Maika. How are you?”
After grabbing Maika’s stripper name I looked toward the stairs and spotted Bill, Dennis Wilson and Josh Withenshaw. (I swear, Dennis and Josh’s friendship is just…ugh, perfect.) I went straight for Josh because no one was noticing him at all and, oh dear, he’s so tall! And so soft-spoken and nice. I was going to go to Dennis afterwards but he’d walked off along with Bill.
“Hey, Josh, you’re so tall! How tall are you?” “I’m six-foot-five,” he replied, as if it was no big deal. We were expecting 6’2”, but oh my god, 6’5”?! Bless his soul.
“Joshua Randall Withenshaw: Will you go to the prom with me? A) Yes, B) A, C) B.” Rian goes in for the kill!
“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m too old to go to prom!” Oh, please, Josh, fifty-year-olds go to prom. Of course, they are teachers and they’re meant to chaperone…
Still, he circled A! Success!
After some more hanging around (I met Lyn and Pat!) we left Discovery in a daze. It was raining, but I didn’t mind. I liked the weather, and the day was far from gloomy. It was perfect. Pat and I bore witness to Rian’s first time riding the MRT, so that made everything more momentous!
We were taken back to North Ave. soon enough. But that day was far from over.