Children with terminal illnesses actually write to Ben Lee to tell him that his music boosts their immune system. By that logic, if Ben Lee keeps making albums, he will cure cancer.
It's no surprise, then, that I've always wanted to meet him. I mean, not only am I a huge fan and geek out enough to actually post messages on his fan discussion board, I want to be exposed to his healing properties. I don't have any diseases or anything, but I drink green tea for the same reasons that everybody else does—not because it's tasty, but because it reduces your chances of getting cancer.
Through a magical set of circumstances, Joanne was able to get me into a Ripe CD release party, where Ben played a seven-song set with gusto, despite the fact that it was one of those stuffy industry gatherings where everybody's there to either get drunk or network for a new a job. He was greeted to a smattering of applause and general indifference when he took to the stage (as if he were interrupting the party!), but the hardcore among us kept him going and he eventually won people over by trying every trick in the book—jumping off stage and playing among the crowd, standing on tables, showing off that Australian humor and charm, etc. It's one of those rare situations that I wished there were a row of completely obsessed teenage girls screaming in front of me—because that's what I was doing on the inside and because Ben wouldn't have had to work so hard for adulation.
(I must reserve this paragraph for a sincere public expression of gratitude for Joanne [and her friend Amy] who has made a young boy's dream come true. I was treated to an intimate live performance, got free Diet Cokes all night long, and...and...and...well, read on to find out why we must now have a moment of silence for Joanne.... Thank you.)
After his terrifically bouncy performance, I found a window of opportunity and marched up to him and asked nervously, "Can I meet you?"
"Sure!" he exclaimed, as he shook my hand.
I tend to forget that I'm a grown man and that with age comes a certain gravitas which most of the time grounds me in the eyes of others. But I often adopt the mindset and demeanor of a 13-year-old girl in instances like these, cowering in the glow of her heroes.
I recited a litany of reasons why I loved him, and I forgot about half of the things I wanted to say, such as, "You cure cancer!" He was gracious, genuine, and appreciative.
Next time, I'm going to have a cheat sheet written out on the back of my hand that will say things like "tussle Ben Lee's hair" and "ask him about how bi-curious of a song 'Apple Candy'" is:
I wanna know what he knows
I wanna feel what he felt
I wanna go where he's been
I wanna know what he knows
I wanna hear your secrets
I want you, and I want him
Well, okay then. Maybe I can cross the bi-curious one off my list. Thank goodness for small miracles.
(Ben Lee performs for me and a bunch of real live teen girls on December 12, 2007, at the El Rey Theatre at an actual concert, where adulation is a given. Tell me if you want to come with, but just know that I may reject your request if I deem you to be unworthy.... In other news, you have until October 8 to download a free MP3 of my favorite song off of Ripe—the title track. Do it now. I mean it.)