"You should have seen your face, you lit up like a Christmas tree."
And so, my celebrity crush began--a crush that has taken me to Miami, San Juan and many a long (long) line to see Ricky perform or, on five glorious occasions, meet him face to face. The last up close encounter happened in December of '06 at NYC's Roseland, where I managed to sneak into the VIP area. All of a sudden, I looked up and there Ricky was, flashing me his megawatt smile. "Hey Baby, how are you? It's always great to see you," he said, punctuating his friendly greeting with a hug and quick kiss on the cheek before disappearing into a sea of other fans.
The only thing better than seeing your celebrity crush in the flesh is sharing it with someone who feels exactly the same way. I've had that pleasure several times with fellow Ricky fan club member and New Jersey native Jenn. We bonded at one of Ricky's TODAY Show performances back in '05, becoming fast friends.
Since then, we've attended a private meet and greet with Ricky at the Time Warner Center here, flown to Miami to attend the dress rehearsal for his MTV Unplugged performance, and jetted off to San Juan last summer for two concerts back to back during Ricky's electrifying "Black and White" tour.
Seeing Ricky in Puerto Rico is what I would imagine seeing Elvis at Graceland must have been like. From billboards everywhere to front page newspaper coverage and regular TV spots, PR welcomed its favorite musical son with open arms. Jenn and I had fifth row center seats both nights. Our double dose of Ricky left us wanting more, so we got tickets for his concert at the Garden on the tail end of his tour.
That was in October, so Jenn and I had lots of catching up to do when we met up for dinner tonight. Over a handful of tapas at Cafe Ronda on the Upper West Side, we gushed about our recent experiences as first-time cruisers on Royal Caribbean, reminisced about the sweet sounds of Puerto Rico's native little frog, the coqui, and griped about the only downside of being a Ricky fan--having to answer that same question over and over again (no, we don't know if he is, and no, we don't care one way or the other).
One of the many upsides--connecting with a great friend who is as ready to pack her bags as I am next time Ricky hits the road.