I’m reminded of a sight I recently saw. A roped off area in a large crowded venue. A group of seventy-five middle age women. Everyone chatting at fever pitch, patiently waiting for the doors to open before the rush to find the best place to stand or sit. An appearance of six to eight men in sheriff’s deputy-style uniforms. The quick screams and impassioned pleas from the victorious crowd.
And then I saw it. That ‘deer in the headlights’ look. The look that tells you the person has just realized where he or she is. The look that says ‘will I be safe’ or ‘will I survive’ or ‘oh no, I’m about to be hit’. You know that look. One of surprise yet fear.
As the crowd gasps and screams, the victim looks to the deputies and says a simple ‘please stick close to me’. The adoration must at times be equally as frightening as seeing a car with its lights on bright barreling down the highway at midnight on a lonely stretch of road. I stood watching the scene, and yet felt the fear.
It was over almost as soon as it happened. The squadron took charge of the prey and quickly disappeared. When I questioned where they took him, all anyone could say was ‘they went that way’. This group of protectors disappeared in the crowd of unsuspecting guests. I was sorry I hadn’t been closer to the front lines rather than behind the crowd.
Perhaps there was a reason for my inability to be part of the crowd that time. It was getting warm in the crowd so I had moved to a more open area to cool off. And to watch.
Have I been guilty of such behavior? Have I spooked the ‘deer’ myself? These were questions I should have asked myself as I watched the scene. Instead, I was feeling disappointed that I had not been on the front line for the victory sighting or a camera in hand to capture the moment.
Now that I’ve had time to reflect, I realize that the prey was not an animal or a god. He was a person. A person just like me. A man that eats, sleeps, breaths just like me. A human being. Not someone that I’m entitled to a piece of. Not someone that I will ever know on a more personal or intimate level. But a human being, just the same.
I had to step back and realize this. What must this young man have been thinking when he saw the scene I saw? Must he have wished to be somewhere else? Must he have thought “Is this the price of stardom that I must pay?” In a play on his first single, did we creep you out?
For many of us, we have mounted the deer on a pedestal as a trophy. Collecting pictures, clamoring for autographs, screaming and cheering at every sighting. Waiting by back doors, standing near the tour buses, checking out the hotel lobbies and floors. Hoping for that special moment when we can reach out and touch the ‘deer’.
We voted so many times that season. We purchased concert tickets. We made hotel and airplane reservations. We paid many a cab fare and car rental. I’m guilty as charged, I admit it. I’ve had a great time in the process. But what disturbed me most, was seeing that look, you know it, ‘the deer in the headlights look’.
So if perchance I too have spooked you at one time or another, please accept my most humble and heart-felt apologies. I meant no harm. I just wanted a special moment, a special memory. Some small part of you, like a personal picture or autograph.
The next time I see you out on your own or in a protective group, I will remember what I saw that night. That quick look of fear. You are paying the price of having your dreams fulfilled. And it has been a very high price. I just have to remember that you are doing what you love most in this world, and that’s playing your music for us. And that I just have to sit back and enjoy it. That’s gift enough for me.
For you who are reading this, take this to heart. I know you adore Taylor Hicks as much as I do. For most of us older and supposedly wiser women, it’s probably more of a motherly affection. Or a quick reminder of our lost youth or remaining days. But we need to remember, first and foremost, that he are a man, not a god, that he are not prey to mounted on the wall or an idol to be put on a pedestal, but a voice to be shared and enjoyed.
We need to give you space and time to enjoy your success. We need to give you freedom without fear. And most of all, I pray that I never see that ‘deer in the headlights’ look in your face ever again.