My family was all watching “American Idol” tonight, and one of my favorite contestants chose to sing “Unwell” by Rob Thomas. He did a good job, nerves aside, but it immediately took me back in time.
I love Matchbox 20 and Rob Thomas, and have for ages. A long time ago – so long I can’t even remember exactly how long it’s been – I got to meet him. My mom, who volunteered extensively for AIDS Project Los Angeles, called out of the blue one night to say she had extra tickets and backstage passes to a concert to raise money for Project Angel Food. Did I want to go? Yes, yes I did. The concert was happening essentially in minutes, so I threw myself together, got in the car and took off. One of the performers happened to be Rob Thomas. He was great, of course, but my favorite memory happened after the show.
We got to go backstage, which was very exciting. There was a brief moment of calm, I don’t know why, and we all stood around waiting to meet Rob Thomas. When it was my turn, I said “Hello” and “Great show,” or something along those lines. Nothing terribly brilliant. My mom thanked him for being involved in the event, and I remember him replying, “No, thank you for everything you do (as a volunteer).” It was very thoughtful and impressive. Right after that it started to get crowded and crazy. At some point we were standing in a hallway packed with people, when down the hall came Rob Thomas, trying to get through. I remember trying to press myself toward the wall, attempting to get out of his way. But there were people between me and the wall, so my attempt wasn’t going well. It’s important to note that I felt very out of place. The area was filled with beautiful people, most of whom were very, very thin. I was not. Add to that the fact that I had gotten ready in a hurry, and you’ll understand why I wasn’t feeling very comfortable. So there I was, standing in the hall, facing the wall, trying to wish myself smaller to get out of the way. Wishing wasn’t working, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t suck in my ass (I still wish that were possible on a regular basis). Rob Thomas started to squeeze by, and I muttered, “Sorry” and wished even harder to be smaller, or better yet, invisible.
He stopped, grabbed my shoulders and squeezed, leaned in and said, “You are just fine, sweetheart.” Holy shit! I am pretty sure my heart stopped. Whatever I felt in that moment, “fine” wasn’t it. I lost the ability to feel my legs and felt like I was floating at the same time. Crazy stuff. The thing is, he noticed me, and took the time to be kind.
I am 100% certain he knew exactly what I was feeling. He has taken major flack from the media over the years for his shifting weight, so I think he gets it. Regardless, it was less about him being Rob Thomas, and more about the fact that he was thoughtful, sensitive and kind. Blew me away. If he never released another song, I would always adore him for giving me that moment. I’d been standing there feeling incredibly awkward, and with a few words he made me feel unbelievably good.
Ah, the power of kindness.