After viewing my photos from the weekend, Wendy asked me to blog about my experience of being serenaded onstage by Gloria Estefan. Little did either of us know that the story would continue in Canada, where I came face-to-face with Gloria (again!) after the show...

The following are two excerpts from my LiveJournal.

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Yesterday, I had the good fortune of being able to "upgrade" my seats for tonight's show from row N to row A in the orchestra. (As in front row, baby!) So, with some encouragement from my Conga friends, I decided that this would be my best shot to "have a moment" with Gloria. I bought her a bouquet of flowers-yellow roses and sunflowers, just like I was told!-and made a sign that read: THIS IS MY BACHELOR PARTY. (AND "I SEE YOUR SMILE" IS "OUR" WEDDING SONG.) HOW ABOUT A HUG? I held up my sign as the band played the first bars of "I See Your Smile" and Gloria made her way to my side of the stage. And the next thing I knew, she was beckoning me to join her. And then she was holding my hand. And then we were dancing...slowly! And then I was kissing her cheek. Twice. (It's probably a good thing Chelsey wasn't there...) And the entire time, she was serenading me with my favorite song. My gaping face was on the jumbo-tron, flashbulbs were going off like crazy, and my legs went to jello. (I almost fell down the stairs on the way back to my seat!) Right now, it's all a blur-or maybe that's just the exhaustion from three shows in three nights! Luckily, my new friend Heidi took my camera and snapped pictures the entire time. That's how I know it's not a dream...

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You know, I didn't think that it could get any better than an onstage serenade from the beautiful Gloria Estefan. But it did. Chelsey and I drove to Canada for the Tuesday night concert, leaving at 2 AM. We arrived at Casino Rama-miraculously, I might add!-around 11:30 and took a look around, finally deciding to fill up at the buffet before checking in at the Days Inn across the street for a little siesta. As we dined on a sampling of this and that, in walked Clay Ostwald, keyboardist for the Miami Sound Machine. Followed by none other than Gloria's husband, Emilio (who is also her manager, producer, and a multi-Grammy Award winner). Chelsey tells me that my jaw hit the floor as I screamed, "Oh, my God! That's Emilio! That's Emilio." I quickly recovered and followed him up to the carving station, where I cornered him with his cut of pork, offering my hand. Hr recognized me from my onstage appearance at Foxwoods and was very kind. He then went to eat with his small entourage as I stared from across the room. (Yes, all my good manners and shy-boy tendencies went out the window...) And the it hit me. I had packed a few of my Gloria pictures from Foxwoods "just in case"-not really expecting a just in case moment. So we quickly paid the bill, and I ran out to the car to grab a photo as Chelsey yelled, "Hurrry! Hurry! He's already on his second dessert." When I returned, picture in hand, Emilio and the others were still chatting, so Chelsey and I set ourselves up at the slot machines immediately across from the buffet exit. (Subtle, huh?) While Chelsey proceeded to lose $20 as we waited, I borrowed the hostess's pen to scribble my name and address on the back of the photo. When Emilio exited, he was deep in conversation, and so I decided not to interrupt. Chelsey, on the other hand, does not sit around squandering money without purpose, and so she grabbed the picture and went running after him, screaming, "Emilio, Emilio..." She thrust the picture into his hands and asked if he could have Gloria sign it. He said that he would but questioned how he would be able to return it to us. Chelsey showed him the address on the back, and that was that. We returned to the casino at 7 PM, my camera tucked discreetly down my pants. I sold my tickets for the Wednesday show to two new friends from Conga and we headed inside. We met up with Cynthia and Allison and Allison's sister and had a good time catching up before Gloria took the stage for another excellent performance. At the end of the night, I met up with the other Conga members in hopes of participating in a meet-and-greet. Security hassled us, but we stood our ground. It was eventually determined that the meet-and-greet for Conga would be held the following night, as Gloria had to meet the high-rollers after this show. As you already know, I had just sold my tickets, so desperation took over. When Frank Amadeo, a VIP at Estefan Enterprises, came over to say hello to the group, I greeted him by name (though we'd never met), explained that Chelsey and I would be unavailable for the following night due to a ten-hour car ride back to Connecticut, and asked if he could make an exception. He recognized me from Sunday night, and quickly got us backstage passes. He also returned my photo, now signed by Gloria. (It reads: TO JOHN, MAY YOU HAVE MANY BEAUTIFUL YEARS OF MAKING LOVE AND LUCK..) We were ushered backstage-you can imagine my satisfaction as security watched this-where I grew increasingly more excited. I finally asked Chelsey for her last piece of gum, which she had been offering me all night long, and which I had declined repeatedly-again, "just in case.". (I'm telling you, this was destiny...) As we waited in the hall while Gloria met Casino Rama's biggest customers, Emilio walked through, greeted me warmly, and posed for a picture-without once making the "not you again" face! And then it was time to see Gloria, who I must say looks even better in person than she does onstage. She recognized me immediately, and offered a sweet hug as she called me her "bachelor boy." We posed for a picture together, and then allowed Chelsey in for a shot of the three of us. Gloria and Emilio-who will be happily married for thirty years in September-offered us their best wishes, and then we said our goodbyes. It was the perfect ending to an unbelievable experience.

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Feel free to check out my journal for amusing stories, beautiful photos from Canada, and my musings on just about everything:

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Comment by Wendy Corsi Staub on February 13, 2009 at 1:54pm
Mark was there. Said it was the weekend of Noodles!
Comment by Monroe on February 13, 2009 at 7:22am
great stories John and Carol!

My closest encounter was at a Harry Chapin concert in oh, 1977? It was at Delhi and Mark may have been there but I can't remember. Anyway, I had my camera and I went and sat on the floor in front of the stage to take some photos for my sister who was a crazy fan of his. The band came to a song that his brother Steve sang lead on so Harry jumped off the stage and sat on the floor with me for the rest of the set. I got some great shots. Now, if I could just find that roll of film!
Comment by John on May 30, 2008 at 10:14am
Bono, huh? Maybe you should write an "enviro-friendly" romance and ask him to pose for the cover!
Comment by Carol Buck on May 30, 2008 at 10:03am
I am looking forward to my package...Thank you Wendy. Of course, I have lots of photos of my night on stage with Doug Flutie. Unfortunately, I am not the most computer-smart person. My darling husband will have to help me tonight when he gets home to load some of those photos for me. I will definitely do that. It was soooo much fun. I even zoomed in on Flutie and made a 5x7 and had him on the wall in my bedroom with other family photos. Like he was a part of my family. If I could get that close to Derek Jeter I think I would absolutely die. He is my favorite player of all time!! So, stay tuned and I will add photos to my page.
Good luck with your next U2 tour Wendy.
Comment by Wendy Corsi Staub on May 30, 2008 at 8:30am
LOL Her candy bar is on its way today, the Borders gift card, which I had specially made up, was lost in the mail so I had to go get another one last night. Sorry Carol!!! The package is on its way!

Also, I loved reading both these stories, and John, of course love your photos. Carol, do you have any of the photos from your Flutie night that you can upload here?! We would love to see them!

I wish I had a similar tale about me and Bono...


Maybe next U2 tour.
Comment by John on May 29, 2008 at 10:37pm
What a great story! Thanks for sharing. Isn't it wonderful when people you admire somehow manage to exceed your expectations? (I've heard that it's usually the other way around...) And I can relate to your friend with the camera-I took over 300 pictures at the four shows!

Congratulations on your twenty-five years of marriage! That's wonderful! And it sounds like you'll be having quite the celebration!

By the way, I've been meaning to ask you if your candy bar made it to you in solid form or liquid... ; )
Comment by Carol Buck on May 29, 2008 at 10:22pm
Wow John that is amazing!!! I have a story to match yours...or kind of match yours. I am a huge Doug Flutie fan. He has a band with his brother called of all things....The Flutie Brothers...ha ha. Anyhow, when he was out here in Vegas I made sure to get tickets in the front row so I could see him up close. I wanted to see him playing the drums in his bare feet. Plus I wanted to stare at him all night. Well, I brought 3 other friends with me, 2 that are huge Buffalo Bills fans, and my friend Anna who is a great photographer. She was taking all the photos with her huge zoom lens. Looking like a true stalker. Mind you, we were in the front row and it was pretty obvious how many photos Anna was taking. Well, Doug was kind of posing for pictures...looking right at Anna and having fun with us. Doug put on his sunglasses because the stage lights were so bright, so I like the smart aleck that I am I pulled my sunglasses out of my purse and put them on right after he did. Well he saw me do that and kind of smiled, laughed at me. And then when the band started to play "Mustang Sally" Doug pointed at me and motioned for me to come up on stage. I almost had a heart attack. So I played stupid and kind of said me??? And he shook his head and motioned again for me to come up on stage. So I walked up on stage wearing my San Diego Chargers Flutie Jersey and walked over to him. I was sooooo frigging nervous. He said he wanted me to play the drums with him. I told him he chose the wrong person to do that. I don't have one ounce of rhythm in my whole body. I can't even clap in beat. He encouraged me and showed me what he wanted me to do. And told me I was doing a great job. I was actually doing okay, until Anna called me and I looked at my friends and then I lost track of the beat and just stood there. I told him I was right that I couldn't do this. He then pulled me down closer to him so he could whisper in my ear....of course, this was the amazing part...I could smell his cologne...he was whispering"sweet nothings" in my ear...NOT!!! He asked me to ask my friends to come on stage too and that we were going to be the back up singers for the rest of the song. Well, they came up and it was soooo much fun. I have about 3000 pictures of Doug Flutie, me with Doug Flutie and it was awesome. We saw him after the show and he signed autographs, then when we were headed to the bathrooms out in the casino we saw him with his body guards. He spoke to me again and thanked me and said that was alot of fun and thanked me for being such a good sport. Are you kidding me???? I LOVED every single second of that. I, of course, told my friends that when he was whispering to me that he asked me to meet him later and have a few drinks with him. It was one of the best nights of my life. I remember like it was yesterday....and it was about 5 or 6 years ago now!!!

Sorry that was so long. I hope I didn't bore you with my story. Congratulations to you and Chelsey!!! My husband and I will be married 25 years in November. We are going to Yankee Stadium and Cooperstown this summer to celebrate.

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