I’ve been to a few of these pre-show “Meet and Greets” now (a perk of doing what I do and having the good friends and contacts I have) and have heard stories about others. And I’ve shaken hands with a long list of important and famous folks. Usually the stars are at least outwardly cordial and patient as they look your way and shake your hand and thank you for coming and smile for a photo and then do it again for the guy and his daughter right behind you.
But Thursday night at American Airlines Center was different, better, and at a level I didn’t see coming. The media interview room across the hall from the Stars room felt not quite… well… usual. There were the dresses she wore in her hit music videos displayed in glass cases along the wall for us to look at as we waited our turn to spend a minute with her.
And at the end of the room, a few feet and a dozen or so adoring fans away, there she is. It’s the smile you see first, even from the back of the room, and the sparkling eyes, and the light and easy relaxed posture of her tall and elegant frame. And she’s hugging everyone. And not the reluctant, barely-know-ya – oh please don’t lean in too close or anything and which way should I turn my head or what and aggghhh!
Taylor Swift attacks a hug like she tackles just about everything else in her world; with aplomb and vigor. You are the friend she hasn’t seen in months, the niece or nephew she can’t live without, the old classmate who helped her pass physics. As we approached, she hugs my friends’ children first, one at a time, and then my daughter Savannah, then me. And I think well, I’ll just go in carefully because I’m an old dad and she’s a young woman and a star and – well – BOOM – in she comes, with gusto and warmth and – I sort of have to let go first…
Maybe the nicest person I ever met in hockey is Pat Lafontaine
, a brilliant player whose career was cut short by injuries. I bring that up because you come away from Lafontaine saying; “no way – nobody is this nice – this good a guy – it’s not possible”. And then you talk to people who know him – who played with him – and they tell you, he is this nice, it’s not an act, this is who he is.
During her nearly two-hour show she fills the arena with songs and color and light and fun. And at one point she pops out in a lower section, and sings a song, then walks down the aisle to the floor, hugging and smiling every step of the way – she hugged at least 100 people that night. I honestly believe that there was at some point a meeting where Ms. Swift said to her handlers; “OK – can we discuss how I can physically hug all 18,000 people in the arena during the show?”
“She’s sooo nice, so warm” my daughter said on the ride home last night. She’s also smart and shrewd, her eye has a particular attraction to the camera lens, and she is a budding showman of the highest order.
And she really is that likeable kid, the one who has room in her heart for everyone, the one who needs the hugs. Trust me when I tell ya – this ain’t a fairy tale.