Clay Aiken's Brush With Worse- Than -Death; The Attack of the Paparazzi!
Some time ago when the former AI 2 runner-up was just getting his feet wet with all the star-related craziness, and he had to make the transition between cute, naïve country boy with freckles and savvy, cool L.A. star with sex appeal, he had an experience that almost made him decide to dump the entire idea of pursuing fame and fortune in the music biz, and run back to mom and the security of his North Carolina home.
Rumor has it that he had just purchased not one, but two brand new silver Volvos; one for his home in North Carolina and one for his L.A. home. One was a convertible C70, the other an SUV. His decision was to keep the convertible in L.A. and to have the SUV in Raleigh for when he was home there, spending time with his family.
What ensued was a date with destiny involving the silver Volvo convertible one spring day on Santa Monica Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles. Clay had to run into the Mega Virgin Music store to make sure he personally picked up a copy of Ruben Studdard's new CD because you know, "he's mah really dear friend and we need to support each other".
As some crazy fans started to notice the spiky-haired, freckle -faced newbie, who "smells like fresh laundry" running around the store trying to locate the CD, and then running to the checkout as he pulled the hoodie up over his mop-top to disguise himself, someone called someone, who called someone else, and yada yada yada, until it ended up, the paparazzi had been alerted! Clay sighting!!
"Wha (translates to "why") do Ah have to WAIT in this craaazy long lahn?" he was thinking to himself. "Wha don't these people let me just skip to the front?!" He just couldn't wrap his mind around it! But the deal was, he was in a music store in Los Angeles; this was not the DMV in Raleigh, and L.A. people don't let anyone cut ahead in line in stores, or even in line at the DMV, for that matter. Besides, he was too new at the time, the people in the store weren't even sure it was him, and even if it was, well this was L.A. and they saw celebs all the time anyway.
Finally, he got through paying for his purchase. He came out of the store, got into the convertible car that was parked along the curb of the street, and started her up. Immediately, he noticed that the cars parked in front and in back of him were too close. They had hemmed him in! "Dang it", he said in a particularly loud tone for him, and realizing that, winced and looked around, hoping no one had heard him use that word, that might for some, be interpreted as a little off-color. He hoped he hadn't offended anyone.
As he eeked his way forward and back, then forward and back again for what seemed like an endless amount of time, the paparazzi pounced, and Clay was uncovered, practically naked (well, that is, for him, since he had taken the hoodie sweatshirt off because it was so hot, and his forearms were exposed in the t-shirt he was wearing!), and without a body guard!
What follows is the telephone conversation he had with his mother the following day detailing his panic in that situation and his continuing state of depression since the incident had occurred.
Clay: Hah, mom?
Mama Faye: Well, hah Clayton! How are you son?
Clay: Ah guess ahm O.K., but ah just wanted to call because somethin happened yesterday and ah need to talk about it.
Mama Faye: Oh mah gosh, Clayton, what is it?
Clay: Well, Ah don't think ah should have kept the convertible here in L.A.
Mama Faye: Wah not son?
Clay: Well, ah was stuck in this parkin space on Santa Monica and, um, oh mah gosh,. . . The paparazzi showed up! They just came outta nowhere! And my top was down!
Mama Faye: Oh no Clayton. What did you do?
Clay: Well, ah panicked!! Ah didn't know WHAT to do! There were about four or five o' them and they were clickin those cameras like mad, and ah just was sinkin' way down in mah seat and holdin' mah arms up over mah head, you know, just to trah to hide an all. But then, ah thought, ah better git outta there quick, so ah started tryin' to maneuver mah way outta that dang parkin space again, an ah just couldn't do it!
Mama Faye: Now Clayton, calm down son. There's no use you gettin in a tizzy over this. Clay, what have ah always told you about situations lahk this? What is it ah've always said?
Clay: Ah know, ah know. You say, "just don't let things git under your skin". You always say, "just let it roll off your back". Ah know. But ah was UPSET. Ah was SO UPSET! Mom, it was not a pretty sight!
Mama Faye: Well, ahm sure it wasn't son.
Clay: Ah just kept thinkin that this better not end up on "Celebrities Exposed" or some smutty thing like that". I kept thinkin how awful it would be if people saw me tryin to git outta that parkin spot!
Mama Faye: Oh, Clayton, don't be silly. Anyway, what did you do then?
Clay: Well, ah did remember your advice about tryin to let things roll off, so ah took a deep breath and just started talkin' to them.
Mama Faye: You just started talkin' to them? What do you mean, Clay?
Clay: Ah just started to talk to them, mom.
Mama Faye: O.K., that's good. And then what did they do?
Clay: Well, they just slowed down a little bit on the picture takin' and they started talkin' back to me.
Mama Faye: Really? That's good! And then what?
Clay: Well, then I was nice to them.
Mama Faye: Yes.
Clay: And then, they were nice to me.
Mama Faye: Great! Then what?
Clay: Well, then I was nice to them and dang it if they weren't nice right back to me again!
Mama Faye: Good for you son! I told you, you just have to relax in these situations and kinda let go sometimes. Just don't let things get under your skin!
Clay: Right, mom.
Mama Faye: So how did it end up Clayton?
Clay: Um, ah guess they all got their silly pictures, I just don't know where they'll end up, or even how I look in any of them.
Mama Faye: Well, that's O.K., I guess. But then, what did they all do?
Clay: Well, after our really nice conversation, they all ran into the music store right there and each of em bought NINE copies of my CD!
Mama Faye: NINE copies each! Oh mah gosh, Clay that's wonderful! But why NINE, honey, why not TEN?
Clay: Oh c'mon mom, now TEN woulda been just too much!
Mama Faye: Yeah, you're probably raht son. Feelin' better now Clay?
Clay: Yes, mother I am.
Mama Faye: Good, now when are you comin' home?
Clay: Not for awahl ahm afraid, ah've got a lot o' T.V. show interviews comin up here. Ah'll have to be here awahl.
Mama Faye: O.K. Clayton, you just get the job done, dear. But don't go rahdin around in that convertible too much. You've seen what can happen.
Clay: Yes, Ah know. Ah will still drive it, but now always with the top up.
Mama Faye: Good Boy. Take care son. Love you.
Clay: Love you too. Bye.
And it was another lesson learned for the all-American boy from Raleigh. Never, ever go anywhere in L.A. in a convertible car with the top down if you're even semi-famous. Especially if you don't drive very well. And absolutely, if you find you get sunburned easily. Because he also found himself applying aloe vera to his nose for the next week and a half just because of 15 minutes in that dang convertible car with the top down!