I awoke on the morning of July 24th, a Tuesday, at around 7AM, a strikingly early time for someone who usually likes to sleep-in. As I was slowly crawling out my bed, for the briefest moment, I felt like I was back in high school, but that's besides the point. I barely had any time to prepare myself for the event that was coming up in a "quick" five hours. Today was supposed to be the day I met Shay Mitchell, a celebrity who garnered her success through the TV series Pretty Little Liars. Though I did manage to watch the entire first season of the show, I never really bothered keeping up since. I don't really know why I even woke up to meet Shay. I mean, I'm not going to claim I'm her biggest fan, because, well, I'm not. Nevertheless, the allure of meeting someone famous is almost impossible to resist. I guess that's the only reason why I bothered setting an alarm for 7AM. Within a quick 25 minutes, I was out the door and ready to meet my three other friends, all of whom were girls. I knew this event was going to be predominantly female so I really didn't mind. We got on the 7 train and transferred over to the Q, finally arriving at 49th street. The location of the event was only a few blocks away, located at the Times Square American Eagle, which I'm assuming is Shay's sponsor. The lines were already long. There had to been at least fifty people who came even earlier than us! But I remembered that the first 25 people got the privilege to take pictures with Shay, dispelling all the disbelief in my mind, and instead replacing it a long sigh that spelled "of course..." I wasn't all too disappointed, but I could tell that one of my friends were. The four of us found the back of the line and started waiting. The turnout was quite predictable, with girls filling up at least 80% of the demographic. Some of the first few girls even had pizza and blankets.
The first thirty minutes felt extremely slow. Minute by minute, other groups of parties began filing up behind our group; I even saw some parents accompanying their children. Plenty of people, probably tourists, looked quite curious as to what we were waiting in line for.
"Move back, move back!" I suddenly heard one of the security guards scream.
It hadn't even been an hour and we were already getting pushed back. We never found out the reason why they told us to move. Everyone began walking back and my group eventually planted itself next to a Church of Scientology with an ongoing TV that kept replaying the same recording over and over again. To say the least, it was annoying. Such a large turnout in teenagers/young adults even prompted Fox News to interview a few people, me included. Except, it wasn't about Shay. I was asked a few questions about college loans, and of course, I told them what they wanted to hear. I was going to take out a few loans. I plan to pay it back after I graduated, granted I find a job. The entire ordeal only lasted five minutes for me, but they kept going down the line to ask for more people. I'm glad it managed to kill a bit of time for me and it sure provided a bit a of snickering amongst my group.
Eventually, the wait became brutal. The sun was warming up Manhattan and the amount of people who were lining up increased drastically. By 10AM, most people were sitting on the ground. I tried to tough it out but I would regret it later on. A few hours passed without much commotion, outside of a few American Eagle employees handing out fans and misters. I think they didn't want to get sued if anyone fainted from a heat stroke. There were a few confused people who asked what we were waiting for. When I managed to muster enough courage to tell them that we were waiting for Shay Mitchell, much to the confusion of the people, I realized how insignificant this whole thing was. Did I really just tell them that I'm waiting on a five-hour line to see a person? I guess I did. But I was already too distracted by the heat and continuous advertisement by the damn Scientology Church next to me. The line finally began slowly moving at around 11:30.; we inched up every ten minutes or so. By the time we reached the front, Shay was already coming out of American Eagle. The security guard let us pass after a few minutes, only for another line to bar our way into a meeting with Shay.
Finally, I was on the line to see her! She came out of the store, looking gorgeous like always, but with an obvious hue of makeup on her face. This line was even worse. I was extremely tired for already standing for three hours. My back ached and my legs felt like jelly. The free water bottle helped a little, but it wasn't nearly enough to mitigate my pain. American Eagle even had someone making shaved ice, but it didn't taste all that great. I stood in line waiting eagerly for my turn at shaking Shay's hands. Soon enough, the crowd began cheering. There was a mother with her child who kept screaming "Shay! Shay! Shay!" Every time Shay would turn to look at the line, a burst of "I love you Shay!" would come from most of the audience. Soon, I saw a girl with a shirt that said something along the lines of "Shay changed my life." It was bewildering to me. All of these people came to exalt a single person, like she was a Goddess of some sort. I didn't understand why some of the people revered her that much. But then I wondered... what if it were Jeremy Lin over there? Or maybe Nina Dobrev? I would go insane. From that moment on, I tried to empathize with all the screaming fans. I imagined what it would be like if one of my favorite celebrities were up there. At the same time, I realized how stupid I'd be to go crazy for one person. Still, I doubt it'd change my reaction to such an occurrence even if it did happen.
We were fast approaching the front of the line. The first 25 people had their photos taken with Shay and displayed on a huge billboard by American Eagle. The rest of the fans were still allowed to take a picture but without Shay. My friends and I approached the staff members. They directed us to do this and do that. Of course, we had to oblige. The picture process was finished within minutes, and honestly, it didn't really matter since the main attraction was still ahead of us. Right before we were supposed to meet Shay, some of the staff members sternly told us we couldn't take pictures pass a certain point. Drat. There goes my plan to become famous. My three friends went up and met her. The conversations lasted a brief thirty seconds and not any longer. Shay signed a copy of Seventeen, the magazine, and sent us off one by one. I was last in our group. I started approaching the table, only to be stopped by a cameraman. He wanted to take a picture of Shay and I couldn't really blame him for wanting to do so. He snapped a quick photo and Shay handed him a signed copy of Seventeen, except, for this copy, she even wrote who it was for. Now it was my turn, right? I took a step forward only to be blocked by a makeup artist. Apparently they have to redo the makeup every so often. After being blocked for a good five minutes, I finally had my turn.
I walked up to the table. I smiled the nicest smile I could conjure up, but even then, it seemed fake. She smiled back, something she's been doing for the entire day. Almost like a one-man assembly line, she took a Seventeen magazine from a stack next to her, signed it with a quick "Shay" and a heart, and thanked me for coming out here to see her. That was that. I thanked her and was on my way out of a five hour queue. I didn't really have much to say to her, and even now, I still don't think I'd have much to tell her. It was one of the most succinct conversations I ever had, if you can even call it a conversation, but I expected as much. She doesn't have the time to say anything fruitful, especially with hundreds of fans waiting to see her. It's the life of a celebrity, or should I say struggle, to generate any legitimate relationships with people.
I stepped out of the line just glad I didn't have to wait anymore. I loved the freedom of walking wherever I wanted and the streets of Times Square suddenly seemed enormous. What I got out of a five-hour wait was a magazine with a scribble and a ton of pain. Us regular citizens will rarely ever develop any fruitful relationships with celebrities anyways, I thought. What's the point of even meeting one?
But I had to wonder: what if I became a celebrity?