Hearing about George Michael’s death yesterday was certainly a shock and made me remember all the moments I shared with him (in my head). But there was one moment I shared with him in real life. I don’t know if “share” is the right word since George probably wasn’t aware of my presence, yet I was there.
Here’s a post I wrote last year about the experience…
So Sunday was my birthday. Forty-f’ing-five. Has it really been 30 years since I stalked George Michael at the Sebel Town House in Sydney?
I will never forget my 15th birthday. It was February 1, 1985. English pop duo Wham! were in Sydney on tour. On Australia Day, dressed in my electric-blue tube skirt, I had gone to the concert at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. I knew I had to meet George.
In those last days of January before we started Year 10, my friends Nadia and Kate and I stood outside the celebrity hotel du jour, the Sebel Town House, every day, to wait for Wham! We befriended the other girls (and one boy) that were there on Elizabeth Bay Road, writing messages to George and Andy in chalk on the pavement and listening to Wake Me Up Before You Go Go on the boom box that somebody brought.
At one point my friends and I got sick of waiting outside the hotel. We took action and walked up the front steps. Strutting into the lobby we were immediately approached by a security guard. “Ladies… can I help you?”
“We’re here to see Wham!” we declared. This was going to be easier than I thought! “Wham!?” he repeated. “I believe they’re out swimming in the harbour today. ” Which was very helpful of him really.
We did an about-face and walked to the harbour foreshore. We ended up at Woolloomooloo, probably not the best swimmer-stalking place, but what did we know? Any distant yachts we saw heading towards Mrs. Macquarie’s chair we’d call out “Is that you George and Andyiiiiiiiieeeee?”
Things were getting depressing. Even we knew it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Especially since we were yachtless. We trudged back up to Whamette Central and waited again.
After what seemed like hours, we noticed a group of official-looking people heading towards the hotel’s front entrance. Someone was walking just behind the group. We could distinctly see blond hair. Those blond highlights shimmered gold in the late afternoon sun. And then we could see his face. And it was…. Rod Stewart??? Or Rod Spewart as we liked to call him.
He arrived with a look on his face that said, “Here I am girls, don’t all grab me at once”, but then seemed genuinely hurt and disappointed when we all just stared at him. No screaming. No grabbing.
Rod was OK, but when you’re waiting for George Michael, Rod Stewart simply won’t do. He slunk inside the Sebel with his unnecessary minders.
Rod emerged a short time later and got onto a mini-bus. Where was George? Where? And why couldn’t we have the same access to George that we had to Rod. It would be 10 years before Alanis Morissette’s anthemic Ironic would be released. But I’m sure I was brewing a similar ditty in my head… “It’s like 10,000 Rod Stewarts, when you all need is a George Michael.” Or something like that.
I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for Rod. I approached his mini-bus and looked for the window with the nest of blonde spikes in it. I tapped on it. His head was turned away. I tapped again. He turned to look at me. The sulky look on his face said it all – he was sulking. I gave him a smile and a little wave. Yeah, like I could make up for all that rejection. He must’ve known it was a pity wave. He waved sulkily back.
February 1 rolled around – I think it must’ve been the day before school went back. Mum gave me a groovy new accessories pack from Sportsgirl. Big round black and white chequerboard earrings were part of the package. Jitter. Bug.
But then Mum gave me the best present of all: “Come on”, she said, “I’ll drive you to the Sebel Town House.”
When we parked just across the road and up a smidge from the hotel (everything was easier in the 80s) Mum said, “Isn’t that him there?” I looked and saw the glorious golden blow wave of gorgeous George. He was wearing a bright blue shirt. He was standing at the top of the front steps of the Sebel, like a king addressing his subjects.
“Well go on!” said Mum, wondering why I wasn’t getting out of the car.
My heart sped up and my mouth went dry. This was my future husband after all. What would I say to him? My hands started to shake as I opened the car door.
I stepped onto the road and tried to walk across it. The saying about legs turning to jelly is a cliché, but it’s what they felt like. They had never felt like that before, and now that I think about it, not since. I had the gait of a new-born foal as I stumbled across the road in my white sandals, toward my love.
Now that I had George Michael in my path, what would I do with him? He was signing autographs for a few lucky girls who had been waiting on the steps. I continued toward him with my little piece of paper.
When I was a couple of metres away, George was whisked down the steps and into a waiting car. I felt a bizarre combination of relief and disappointment. It had all happened so quickly. I wouldn’t be getting my little piece of paper signed by George, but at least I didn’t have to talk to him.
In an 11th-hour surge of boldness, I tapped on his Georgeousness’s car window. The glass was completely black. I couldn’t see a thing. This wasn’t Rod Stewart’s vehicle you know.
Did George see me? Maybe.
And at that moment, that was enough.
I don’t think my nerves could’ve handled anything more.