A Few Minutes With Barbra

When I was growing up my mother was a member of both the Capitol and Columbia record clubs. A booklet would come by mail. You would make your selection. And, if you didn't do that in a timely manner, you would automatically receive the Selection of the Month. Either way, new music was coming into the house on a regular basis.

Although I'm sure albums were playing throughout the week, my most vivid memories are of Saturday mornings. Mother would put a stack of records on the stereo (maximum six at a time). Then we would dance and sing along, while cleaning the house.

That was how I first heard Barbra Streisand.

To this day, I can probably sing every note on the People album and the Funny Girl cast recording. And the film version of Funny Girl is such a strong memory that I feel like a saw it on Broadway too.

Fast forward to 2006. I was teaching second grade and part-time job jumping through the Las Vegas casino hotels. I'd already worked briefly at Shark Reef, Phantom of the Opera, and several conventions. When I heard that Barbra Streisand was coming to the MGM Grand, I applied for and landed an usher position at the Grand Garden Arena.

I got fitted for my Kelly green blazer and attended orientation. There were lots of instructions, but the most important was for the Streisand concert: if you see her in the hallway, DON'T LOOK AT HER!. Hmm.

I was very excited. But I first had to work some other concerts: Mariah Carey (Put on some clothes!) and Jimmy Buffett, whose fans were very drunk and rowdy. I was asked to come down a few rows and put a stop to an altercation between Buffett fans. That was a useless task. On my way back up the stairs, I tripped over my own feet and fell onto the concrete landing. I couldn't move without excruciating pain. So I was rushed by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where my dislocated shoulder was snapped back into place. I was then sent home with powerful drugs and my arm in a sling.

For a week I was unable to go to my salaried job because of an injury on my minimum wage fling. When I was cleared to return to the MGM, it was just in time for the Barbra Streisand show. But I'd been put on light duty and couldn't work inside the concert. Instead I was posted in a chair to take tickets for the pre-show reception. I was crushed. Before the show was over, however, a sympathetic co-worker traded places with me. Then I was able to stand inside and see Barbra perform for a few minutes. She was relaxed and her banter was funny. Her voice was strong and lovely. I was grateful for those moments with her.

 I kept that usher job until I left Vegas two years later and witnessed some fabulous shows, and quite a few duds. Among the most enjoyable were Beyonce, Eric Clapton, the Billboard Awards, and Van Halen, also the loudest.

Should Barbra Streisand ever tour again, I want to be there.


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