For Shavozz

· Janet Jackson

· Red

· Des Moines Iowa

“Bacon on a stick? Oh hell yes!” Ebony exclaimed as we walked into the fairgrounds.

I didn’t know who was more excited at this moment, to be honest? Me or her, but it was a close race. This summer my best friend and I were embarking on what we called “The Summer of No Mo FOMO” because we constantly found ourselves wishing we had gone to this event or the other, said this thing or the other, did this dude or the other, but both of us were punks, so undoubtedly we lived in a fog of regrets. This year would be different, however, we’d decided after reading Shonda Rhimes’ The Year of Yes. So that’s how we ended up, in matching red tees with a cartoon drawing of Ororo Munroe decked out like the cover of Janet Jackson’s Control album, strolling through the Iowa State Fairgrounds. My favorite pop diva, Janet Jackson was on a tour that somehow had her missing our entire state, but made its way to Des Moines. Neither Eb nor I had been to Iowa before in our lives, but figured it would be worth the adventure.

“Eb, focus! We have to meet Luke to get our tickets, then you can live out your fat girl dreams and eat our weight in fried foods.”

A friend of a friend had hooked me up. My friend Tavi’s friend Luke was a local radio DJ in Des Moines and she called in a huge favor. Not only did he hook us up with tickets, they were actually front row center. I’d waited my entire life to see Janet in concert and though I never thought it would end up being at a random state fair, I was beyond grateful to Tavi and pretty much owed her my firstborn, should I ever have kids. We were supposed to meet Luke by some butter cow sculpture to grab the tickets before the show. The plan was to get the tickets from him, peruse the fair a bit, then get our follicles snatched by the Nasty One.

“Did you even text him to make sure he was here?” Ebony asked.

“Yes, this is how I knew to meet him by the damn cow. Now come on,” I said, grabbing her by the arm and forcing her to follow me.

“Brenda, you’re buggin’! Dude and those tickets aren’t going anywhere.”

“And neither is all this damn food, Eb, so relax!”

“So nasty and sooooo rude,” Ebony trilled, sounding like Nene Leakes.

Soon we were near the butter cow, but I didn’t see anyone who looked like he could be friends with Tavi. Soon we were approached by a strawberry blonde with a tee shirt advertising, Star 102.5, which I assumed to be a local radio station.

“Brenda?” he asked, gesturing toward Ebony.

“I’m actually Brenda, this is Ebony. Luke, I presume?” I replied.

I don’t know what I expected him to look like, but he didn’t look anything like what was in my head. I guess I automatically assumed he’d be a brotha because he was one of Tavi’s friends, but I was clearly mistaken.

“It’s Jeremy, actually. Tavi just calls me by my radio name at all times to give me shit,” he laughed, “So I have you guys’ tickets and I was actually able to finagle a lil somethin’ extra since Tav mentioned how big of a fan of Janet you were. I could only get one, but I put a pre-show meet and greet pass in there for you, too.”

“Oh my god,” I screeched, before launching myself at this complete stranger, giving him a hug, “Thank you so much!”

If he was caught off guard, he didn’t show it at all, returning the hug in good stride.

“No problem, glad I was able to hook you guys up. Tavi mentioned that this was a part of some grand summer of adventures you guys have planned?”

Ebony replied, since I was still pretty much in shock that I was hours away from meeting my idol.

“Yeah, came to Des Moines because we heard that’s where all the action is,” she cracked, which made Luke double over with laughter.

“Well, I hope you ladies enjoy your time spent in my town. Give Tavi my best,” Luke said, “I’ve gotta get back to my booth before someone notices I’ve been gone.”

As he walked away, Ebony turned to me with a crazy eyed expression, “Bitch, you’re about to meet Janet Jackson!”

*Fun fact: I actually have a friend named who is a radio show host in Des Moines Iowa and his radio name is Luke Matthews LOL. So this was fun to insert my real life bud into this tale.

Nicole Falls