The Wolfpack Files

My Life in My Words

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fourteen Years Later...

Let me tell you about my Saturday. In order for you to truly understand the importance of this weekend, please take a moment to hearken back to my I Am a Marxist post. It's OK; I'll wait, take your time and read it carefully.

Shortly after reading (or possibly re-reading) that post a few weeks ago, my friend Monica decided to look up Richard Marx's tour schedule. And there it was. He was going to be performing (on his birthday no less) at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. I immediately said, 'let's go!' How perfect could it have been? It was on a Saturday, it was in Connecticut, and it was at a casino. Oh, and did I mention, it was free?! It's like the stars aligned for me. Monica said she'd go, and we then set out to find others who would go along for the adventure. Suffice to say, there aren't a ton of Richard Marx fans in my circle of friends, but the idea of a weekend road trip appealed to a few, so myself, Monica, Dan and Kerri piled in a car from New York and drove out to Connecticut on Saturday morning.

First up was the drive to my parents' house. Saturday was supposed to be rainy to start with, but we had pretty good weather, so that was a good start. The trip we had estimated was going to take two hours, but actually took only about 90 minutes. Another good start. We got to my parents place and had some lunch and sadly found out one friend from Boston wasn't going to make it. But our spirits refused to darken. We piled into my car to make the drive to the casino and listened to my very danceable Mohegan Mix CD I made especially for the trip. We got to the casino in about an hour where we met up with Shuchi and Prakash, who had driven into the area the night before. It was now around 2pm. The concert in the Wolf's Den wasn't going to start until around 8pm. People would start getting seated around 6:30pm, so we had some time. There wasn't a line or anything yet, so we all felt we could gamble, do some shopping and maybe get something to eat before we got seated.

Not all of us are real gamblers, but a couple of us are. I ended up at a three-card poker table. I pulled out $100 to start with and quickly was down to my final $45. And that's when the day really picked up, because with my last hand, I got dealt a 2, 3 and 4 of clubs. That's right, a straight flush. On a $45 bet, a straight flush pays off... $600! Whoo hoo! I seriously was giggling like schoolgirl when I saw my cards. I had been there for all of maybe 30 minutes and I was up $545. I played a few more hands, but I'm not an idiot. I know when to quit and I was determined to walk out of that casino with a ton of cash. Of course as I said, I had only been there about 30 minutes. So if I wasn't going to gamble any more, and we couldn't be seated until 6:30pm, what was I going to do? At this point all six of us had split up, so first we had to find the group. As it turned out, this is where I got a stroke of luck. Well, my second stroke of luck after my straight flush. Hehehehe. Anyway, Kerri and Shuchi had been wandering around as well and noticed a line starting to form and decided to stand in it. This turned out to be a brilliant decision because that line grew and grew and grew as the hours went on. All told, we stood in line for about three to three and a half hours waiting to be seated. But it wasn't all that bad. We took turns (most of us anyway) and once I got there I never left.

During all of this, they had been doing a sound check with the keyboardist singing some of Richard's songs. The great thing about the Wolf's Den is that it is in the middle of the entire old part of the casino, so you could be sitting at a table far away playing poker and still hear everything. They finished the sound test at one point and there was quiet (relative quiet I should say, we were in a casino after all) for a while. Then they came back out to do some more testing and I saw a few people in line ahead of me start waving towards the stage. I looked up, and there he was. Richard Marx, on stage. It was all very surreal to me. I mean, there he was! Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I don't have some sort of man-crush on him, but c'mon... Fourteen years! When was the last time you waited fourteen years for something and didn't feel excited? There were still a couple of hours before the actual concert started, but he was on stage, singing and I could see him.

At 6:30pm the gates didn't open. Richard was still on stage, which was kind of odd because you'd think he'd have gone backstage to prepare. Then word came which truly scared me. There was something wrong with the sound equipment and there would be a delay. I can honestly say that I thought 'you have got to be kidding me!' I was completely certain that they would cancel the concert. I mean, OK, the sound checks had sounded reasonable to me, but what do I know. Maybe Richard is one of those perfectionists that wouldn't take the stage unless everything was, well, perfect. I didn't say anything to anyone, but I was fairly certain that if the concert was cancelled, I was going to go bet $400 on number 13 and either win $14,000 or shoot myself.

Maybe 15 minutes later however, the gates opened and slowly but surely they were letting people in. The way the seating was set up was, there was the stage, then seats/tables on the floor in front of the stage and then around that and up a level were more seats. I really wanted to sit on the upper portion but along the rail so that we were closer to eye level and didn't have anyone in front of us. And this is where the friends who got in line saved us. We got seats almost exactly where I had hoped to be. Had we waited until later to get into line, we would have been shoved farther back on the upper level and had to look through people to see what was happening. So now we still had another hour before the show started. Kerri and I went and got something to eat and we got back about 10 minutes before showtime. And then, he walked out on stage.

I can't even begin to tell you what I was feeling. I had been telling my missing the concert story since it happened. All through college, law school and the rest of my life, if you're a friend of mine eventually you'll hear the story. At the time, it was a very sad experience, but as my life went on it became my go-to story to get people to laugh (and feel sorry for me. Well, not too sorry since to most people missing a Richard Marx concert would be a good thing.) But here it was, 14 years and three weeks to the day I screwed up the date of the original show, and I was FINALLY seeing Richard Marx live and in person. And it was free. And, as you can see from the picture on the left (click on it for a bigger version) I wasn't that far from him. I couldn't have been more than 10 yards away from him. It was, as I said earlier, completely surreal. And here's the best part: he put on a great show! He hit a lot of his classics, played a few songs I had never heard before, and was pretty funny throughout. At no point was I bored or felt like I had maybe built this all up over the last decade and a half. The entire show was just amazing. Thanks to Kerri and her camera, not only did I get a few pictures, I managed to get videos. Pictures are great, but for an experience like this, they don't tell the whole story. I had waited for a long, long time to see this concert and it was over in just under two hours. If all I had was a few pictures, it would have been nice, but having videos? It's like being there. And for you, my loyal readership, I have uploaded the videos for your enjoyment:

Angelia (:49)
Right Here Waiting (2:30)
Should've Known Better (1:38)

So let's recap, shall we? Fourteen years ago I had missed a concert. It turned out to be a very important moment in my life because it taught me that I should check and double check everything, and it helped turn me into the storyteller I fancy myself to be today. On Saturday, I, along with a bunch of friends, took a road trip to a casino in my home state where I won (when all was said and done, and taking into account paying for food, drinks and whatnot) $410. And at that casino there was a free concert by Richard Marx, the person I had missed fourteen years earlier. All things considered, Saturday, September 16, 2006 will go down as one of the great nights of my life. Before I go, I'd like to thank everyone that was a part of this weekend. Without you, it wouldn't have been nearly as fun and entertaining. And thank you Richard Marx, for making it all worth the wait.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


I've been sitting here thinking about who I write this blog for. It's not really for me, since the stories I tell on here are ones I know by heart. It's not really for my friends, because I've told them all of these stories before. It's not for strangers, because I don't get a huge rush thinking some random person in (insert country here) is reading about my life. And yet, considering I'm not writing this for any one group of people, I continue to write. Today, I've decided to write about an experience I've had that not many people I know have. I was once on a reality show.

Now, before you get excited (or disgusted) it wasn't anything huge like Survivor or The Real World (although I do still plan on trying to get on The Amazing Race someday) - no, I was on a little TLC show called Date Patrol. TLC, for those of you who don't watch, is The Learning Channel. It's usually towards the end of your cable dial and has popular shows such as Trading Spaces and While You Were Out. Date Patrol was their version of a self-help dating show and was based on a British TV show, as most of their shows seem to be. Apparently the Brits do TV better than we do. Anyway, the basic premise of Date Patrol was to take a problem dater and fix them, using three different life coaches. But before I get into the show, let me give you some background (and I warn you, this entire blog post may be very, very long.) Some of the dates are a bit fuzzy, but you'll get the major points.

A girl I knew, the younger sister of a good friend of mine from college, was working on Date Patrol as a producer. Somehow she brought it up and asked if I would be interested in applying. At the time I was living back in Connecticut and said that if I made it back to NYC, I'd consider it. Then my sister decided to move to California for grad school, leaving her apartment in the city open. My parents own the apartment, so we could have sold it, rented it out, or... let me take it. I decided the time was right to leave Connecticut so I went to India for a month and when I got back, I moved into NYC. At the moment I'm at a loss for a reason as to why I would do that to myself, but there you go. So when I got back into the city, I met up with the producer who once again asked me if I'd be interested. I said sure, send me the application. The application sat on my computer for about a month. Then she got a hold of me again and said they were having a really hard time casting and was I still interested? So I sat down, filled out the application and sent it to her.

Now realize, I never in a million years thought I'd get on the show. I figured they'd look at my application and toss it out. I mean, The Real World had done that a few years earlier when I applied (for the Boston cast), why would this be any different? Literally a few minutes later, she called back to say that another producer was going to call me to set up a meeting with me. And a few minutes later, I did get another call. And the next day, I was giving a Cribs-like tour of my apartment, on camera, and being interviewed. And a few days after that, I got the call I was on the show.

I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. The whole thing still didn't feel real. I was initially scheduled to be the first person shot, but I believe I had family in India in town or something, so my production got pushed back a few months. So again, I still didn't believe it would happen, but a few months roll by and suddenly... So here's how the show worked. I get set up on a date. The date is videotaped and being watched by the host of the show and three coaches. Their job is to critique my dating style. Then they spend a month working with you, doing various tasks and such. You don't know what the tasks are in advance and they could literally be anything.

I thought I did pretty well on the date, but apparently they didn't. They didn't like the way I dressed, the way I walked, the way I reacted when the girl touched my shirt. And there really isn't much more embarrassing than sitting in your own living room watching yourself on a date. So I meet the host, she talks to me for a bit, I meet my segment producer, who follows me around all month with a camera in my face, and it's slowly starting to dawn on me that this is really happening. I can't remember in what order things happened, but here's what I had to go through. With one coach, I went to an Improv class so I could learn how to speak in something other than a monotone. On my date I guess I didn't speak very loudly or with much emotion, so the coach thought the Improv class would help. Now, I've worked in movies and been on camera a few times, so doing the class wasn't horrible, as I enjoy acting out. The one thing I couldn't bring myself to do was sing. For some reason, I can not sing in public. But overall, the Improv class was decent.

I have a fear of heights. That isn't very helpful when you live on the 19th floor of a NYC apartment, but what can you do. My couch equated my fear of heights with a fear of dating, and thought that if I could get over my fear of heights, I'd get over my fear of dating. I don't dispute I had a fear of dating, but I had no clue how heights worked into it. Unless I was dating someone taller than me. Anyway, I ended up going to trapeze school on the West Side Highway. Yes, it is right on the highway, so that people at stop lights could look up and see me, swinging like an idiot from one of those bars. That was terrifying. First of all, you have to climb up this rickety ladder to this plank of wood. The plank isn't all that big, and we had me, an instructor and TWO camera men standing on it. Then, you're supposed to grab the bar that you swing on. But the bar is out in front of you so the only way you can grab it is to lean. I had on a safety harness, and the instructor held on to my back, but for all intents and purposes, I was leaning off a small piece of wood, looking down about 20-25 feet into a net. Although I didn't see the net, all I could see was the ground below. I don't know the last time I was so scared. And then, after you grab the bar, the instructor lets go, and you go flying. I couldn't do much else other than fly through the air and drop into the net, but I have to stay, that was the good part. Getting up to, and standing/sitting on the platform, sucked horribly, but the rest was OK.

With another coach I took a kickboxing class. Now that was cool. I had a good time with that. Kickboxing is not to be mistaken for the kickboxing cardio class I took later, however. Kickboxing involves you and another person beating on each other. Kickboxing cardio involves someone trying to kill you by exercising. You know those cartoons where the dog gets kicked in the head and sees birds flying around? I saw stars. We didn't actually kick anyone, we just worked out, and by the end I literally fell to the ground and saw stars. I thought I would die right there. I've never been in such agony before. And the instructor, who had been so nice when we kickboxed a week earlier, just stood over me and smiled. Needless to say, I never went back. I found out later that he got kicked in the face by another student and broke his jaw. Oh yeah, and the guy who worked at the gym and showed me how to work out was named Rage. Rage Ng. Yes, his name was actually Rage Ng. It wasn't his given name, but he changed it. He was one of those people who was really nice, but looked like if you pissed him off, he'd rip your head clean off your body. And he was married to a dominatrix. I miss Rage.

Then there was the day I had to go to Central Park and hit on women. The camera was hidden in the shadows and I had to go up to random women and try and get a phone number/email address. That was the day I got into an argument, on camera, with my coach, over the point of the whole thing. Because the area of the park she picked wasn't well traveled, there weren't a lot of women wandering around. So for a while I was hitting on 50-60 year old women. I have nothing against women that age, but seriously? So we went at it. She ended up getting fired that day. I'd like to think I had something to do with that. By the end of the Central Park day I had managed to get the email address of a Russian model/actress. To this day I'm not sure if I did that on my own, or the producer, fearful the day would turn into a bust, went out and got her, but she was hot.

So at the end of the month, you've done all sorts of things and are supposed to find your own date for the final part of the show. Beyond what I described, I also hosted a party at my apartment, went to a club with a friend, and did a few other things. I had managed to meet a decent number of women, and even liked a few of them. Here's the problem. I asked 4 of them to go out with me on the show and they all said no. I was told by other friends of mine that a lot of Indian girls don't want their parents to know what kind of life they really lead. So appearing on a dating show might not be in their best interest. Which means the producers had to scramble to find me a date, and ended up asking a girl out for me. I might have been the only person in the (short) history of Date Patrol to not be able to get their own second date. That was a kick in the pants. So they found this girl for me that I had met at a club, but hadn't remembered too well, and we went out. Oh yeah, I was also given a small makeover, where I got a haircut, my eyebrows threaded and some new clothes. I basically looked like someone else. But it all went rather well. Granted, I haven't spoken to the girl since, but she said on camera that I was nice.

So there you go. For a month during the summer of 2003, I was followed around NYC with a camera, documenting my life. The show's production office was a block away, so anytime I left the apartment they asked that I call them so they could send a camera to follow me. That was a little strange, since sometimes all I did was go get food, but hey, they wanted footage. The show ended up airing in January of 2004 to critical acclaim. OK, maybe not critical, but people seemed to like it. The weirdest thing was, I was actually recognized on the street a few times. A couple of weeks after the show aired, this girl stopped me outside of a subway station to ask for the time, then said, 'You're the guy from that show, right?' She could have mistaken me for someone else, but I'd like to think she knew who I was. Then, very randomly, I was in Florida for a wedding, and a girl at a tuxedo rental place recognized me. I got emails from people I hadn't seen in years who said they were flipping channels and saw me.

So the bottom line... did the show help? Actually, it kind of did. Much to the chagrin of my style coach, who bought me all the clothes and some stuff for my apartment, my clothing style hasn't changed too much, although I did add some color to my life. But as far as dating goes, I've gone out a lot since then and don't feel so afraid. If someone doesn't like me, so be it. I'm not as afraid of rejection as I was before. I still haven't found that certain someone, where there is a mutual attraction anyway, but at least I can go out and look.

There you have it. My life as a reality TV star. I'd highly recommend everyone get on a reality show if they can. It's one of the strangest, most surreal experiences you can have. And you get free stuff.