The Kitten that Brought Us Together
I work part time at McDonald's, only on the weekends.
I also have another part time job with the Music Center
just behind the hill of McDonald's. I thought it would be
a way for me to make a little extra cash during the week,
especially now since school will be starting in just a
few days. I work as the stage decorator. This means that
when a band comes to perform, I get to come in and help
them set everything up, and even give them tips because
our stage isn't standard size, so things often need to be
rearranged and what not.
I was thrilled when I found out that my all time
favorite band was coming to the Music Center to do a show.
And honestly, it really surprised me because we're such
a small venue for someone as big as Hanson to come here.
I figured that they would want to be in the city, rather
than in some little suburb. Especially since the Music Center can only hold 1,500 people. The minute that I found out
about Hanson, I called my boss to see if I had their concert.
"Noell, just the person I wanted to talk to," she told
me as soon as she recognized my voice.
"Really? What about?" I asked, butterflies filling
my stomach with each passing second.
"Well, I don't know if you heard or not, but we booked
someone big for the weekend of the 15th," she continued.
That one word made up one entire sentence. That one
name made my heart flutter with complete and utter joy.
"And I want you to be there all weekend to make sure
that things run smoothly. I know that you're the most
reliable stage director/decorator that we have, which is
kind or ironic because you're the youngest. Ya know,
some people have been working with me for over 10 years
yet I can trust you more than I can trust them,"
"Thanks," I said, "the trust feels great."
She went on to tell me more details about Hansons show
and when they were arriving and stuff like that. With the
information that I found out, I could've told so many
people to be here at a certain time, or be there at a
certain time and they would "run into" Hanson, but I knew
better than that. I could get fired for doing something
like that, and with the way that my boss trusts me, I
did not want to ruin it. Plus, I wanted to have Hanson
all to myself.
The weekend they were scheduled to perform finally
rolled around. I had already gotten the chance to talk
to their stage director on the phone and we exchanged
ideas. He was a little upset that I was so young, but he
told me that he had worked with my boss in the past, and
if she could trust me with something like this, then he
would have to trust me, too. I must admit, talking to a
37-year-old stage director was great, but I had to think
of how intimidating it must have been for him to be swapping
ideas with a 17-year-old stage director.
I pulled into the staff parking lot of the Music Center
and noticed that the truck carrying all of the equipment
was already there waiting for me. I checked my watch to
see if I was late. Nah, they were just early, which is
something that rarely happens. Usually, stage trucks are
late, not giving enough time to get things set up properly,
which could get to be extremely annoying.
"Noell, right?" Hansons stage director, Gene, shook my hand.
"Yeah, pleased to meet you," I said honestly. "Let me
get things unlocked and then your men can start unloading.
I want to get started as soon as possible."
He nodded. As soon as the doors were open, several
men began unpacking the truck, bringing things into the
stage room. There was so much stuff I didn't know where
all of it was going to go! Our stage was so small! It wasn't
going to hold everything. I pulled Gene aside.
"There's a slight problem," I said. "Our stage isn't
standard size. We're going to have to do some major
Once again, he nodded. "I trust you. It's all you.
I'll just sit back and watch."
The confidence I once had sudden disappeared. How was
I going to do all of this myself? I didn't let my composure
change though because I didn't want him to think that I
couldn't handle it. The moving men were waiting for
directions from me.
Then I started. And they listened to me. It felt
great to know that I had control over them. I stole a few
glances at the director and he looked very impressed. I
was even impressed with myself. My voice rang with such
authority and it felt as though I were flying. It was
such a rush. Time slipped by and we were completely
finished within a matter of two short hours.
When we done, Gene applauded. I swumg my
head around to see him beaming at me.
"That is the first time that I have seen those guys
work so hard and efficiently. Maybe I should hire you
to finish the rest of this tour with us," he told me,
though I knew he was joking, but he had a hint of seriousness in his voice. I smiled. Oh, that
would be more like a dream come true.
"Well, my work here is done. Sarah (my boss) should
be here by 7:00," I told them, heading towards the door
to leave. Since Sarah had worked with him before, she
told me that I could leave once the work was done.
"Actually, could you stick around? The guys should be
arriving any minute now to do a sound check. Do you know
how to work the sound booth? Maybe you could help us out
a little with that. I know that this place has an out
dated booth and I don't remember how to work it."
"Sure, I could stay if you need me to," I offered,
jumping at this chance to meet my favorite band.
"Great. And thanks again for your wonderful work."
Forty-five long minutes passed before Hanson showed up.
I could tell that Gene was getting somewhat annoyed at
their tardiness, but he smiled widely when they walked in
the side enterence, accompanied by their father.
"You're late," Gene stated the obvious.
"Yeah, but whenever we get to the venues on time, you
guys are still setting up the stage," Zac said.
Gene's face compromised. "True, very true, but the
reason we're done on time today is because we have a
little stage-director-prodigy on our hands."
I felt my entire body tense up as Isaac, Taylor, Zac,
and Mr. Hanson all turned in my direction. My pulse
quickened and my feet turned ice cold. I was a nervous
wreck and I hoped that none of them picked that up. I
forced a little smile and a wave.
"That's Noell. Sarah told me that she would be
wonderful, and I must admit, she did a better job than I
would have," Gene said. "She's also going to work the
sound booth during the sound check, so let's get started."
Hanson climbed up onto the stage behind their instruments.
Zac started playing a little beat on the drums and I noticed
that I had been in so much awe that I had forgotten to
even turn the sound on. I quickly flipped the switch and
the beats of the drum became louder. I saw Gene turn around
and smile at me.
Isaac went around and tested all of the guitars. For
some reason, I set each guitar volume perfectly and no
adjustments were needed there. I didn't know how I knew
what setting to put them at, but they were perfect. Taylor
pushed a few keys on the keyboards, then looked up at the
sound booth. He gave a sign that meant to turn it up a
little, then a little more, and on the third try, I hit it
right on where it was supposed to be. He gave me the "A-OK"
signal with his hand. I smiled.
Next was micropohones. Zac went first with his headset.
"This is great," he said, his voice booming into the
empty audiotorium. Then he began singing "where's the love, it's not
enough, it makes the world go 'round and 'round and 'round and 'round..."
I noticed that their father shot him a look and he immediately stopped.
Taylor began playing This Time Around on the keyboards and he began
singing it as well. His voice was so smooth, yet it wasn't
loud enough. "It's getting colder in this ditch -- hey Noel, could
you turn mine up a little bit?"
"Sure," I said into my microphone, "but my name's Noell."
"Oops, sorry. Hey, this is better. Thanks."
Then reality hit me. The very first thing that I said
to Taylor Hanson was "but my name's Noell"! Omigod, what
kind of moron am I?! I slapped my hand against my forehead,
disgusted with myself.
Isaac's mike was too loud, so I had to adjust his. After about
20 minutes of making sure everything was perfect, we were
done with the sound check. I emerged from the hot sound
booth and walked down next to Gene.
Zac began fooling around just started playing the drums,
making it impossible for Mr. Hanson and Gene to talk.
Taylor hopped off the stage and approached me. "Sorry
about getting your name wrong. I feel really stupid about
it," he said.
"It's alright. It happens all the time," I said truthfully.
Taylor winced at Zac's playing. He put his hand behind
his ear, signaling that he hadn't heard me. "Let's go
outside and talk," he shouted.
"I have a better idea," I shouted back, walking backstage
and into a locked room. I shut the door behind us and
the drum playing was muffled and now I could actually hear
myself think. The room had an old dusty piano in it, along
with stage props that are used when plays are performed.
"Now what did you say before?" he asked me.
"Oh, nothing really, just that a lot of people don't
pronouce my name right. It's not that big of a deal," I said
casually, as though it were nothing, even though when
people do mispronouce my name wrong, it really makes me furious,
but I'm willing to make an exception with Taylor Hanson.
We both heard it. Faint mewing.
"Did you hear that?" Taylor asked me. "It sounded like
a kitten." We both heard it again and we stood up to try
to find it.
"It sounded like it was coming from over there, behind the
piano," I said, pointing to the dark corner. Taylor took
my advice and craweled under the piano. A few seconds
later, he came back carrying a tiny brown and black striped
kitten. It didn't look any older than 6 weeks. Taylor
looked so adroable holding the small creature. He handled
it with such caution and care; it was so cute.
"I love cats," he told me, sitting back down on the
floor beside me. Then he offered me the kitten. I accepted.
Our hands touched as he passed the kitten to me. He was so warm.
The kitten mewed and clung to my shirt. I laughed and
pulled him off of me, and then held him up to look into
his face. Such a cute face.
I couldn't tell you how long we sat there and played
with the kitten. Taylor named him Boots because his hind
legs has little white feet.
"Ya know, my little cousin has kittens that are this
small," I said.
"Really? I'd love to see them sometime," Taylor
actually sounded sincere.
"Of course that means that you'd have to come to my
house," I told him. He nodded, but it was one of those
kind of nods that seem to say 'yeah, right'. "But I do
have a picture of them on my digital camera. I could
email it to you,"
"Are you in the picture?"
"Yeah, I'm holding both of them. Amber and George,"
I laughed at the names that my 11-year-old cousin gave
them. Taylor laughed, too.
"Amber and George?"
"My cousin is eleven, so..." I trailed off. Taylor
nodded, understanding the incomprehensive workings of
an eleven year old.
"You'll have to email me that picture then," Taylor said,
then gave me a special email address to send it to. It was
so easy that I didn't have to write it down; I knew that
I would remember it. Then my cell phone rang. I pulled
it out from my back pocket and flipped it open.
"Where the heck are you?" my mother asked viciously.
"The Music Center. Why?"
"Did you happen to forget that you have a piano solo
tonight at the church service?" she accused me of forgetting.
"I didn't forget, I just didn't remember," I said. She sighed.
"Noell, did you practice at all?"
"No, not really."
"Well, I know there's a piano in the back room of the
Music Center. Practice now. Right now. I want to hear
the music before you hang up on me," she demanded. I drug out
an annoyed sigh and sat behind the piano. I pushed one key.
"There, now I can go. Let me practice. I'll be there on time,
don't worry about it," I told her, then hung up. I looked
over at Taylor. "It was my mom. She wants me to practice
my song that I have to play at church tonight," I explained to him.
"Cool, I didn't know you could play the piano," he said.
"Here's a little secret. I'm not that great, but my
mom thinks I'm the best, which is why I have to play
tonight. She said that she brags to all of her friends
about my playing, and now she wants to show me off. I
just don't want to disappoint her."
"Well go on and practice. I won't interrupt," Taylor promised.
"I'll feel embarrassed."
"Why?" he asked. I only gave him a 'look'. "Okay,
I took a deep breath and started playing the song
that my mother had selected for me. I wasn't actually
playing during the service, it was at the very beginning,
before the service started. Now that I thought about it,
the song sort of sounded like a mixture between This Time
Around and A Song To Sing. I felt kind of weird playing
in front of Taylor, especially with the song sounding so
much like one of his bands songs.
I got lost in the music. During the middle of the song
is when it got really hard. With one hand I was playing
something that sounded extremely similar to Joy To The
World, and the other hand was playing the melody of the
original song. I hit a few wrong keys, and winced when I
did. Finally, I got to the ending, pushed the pedal on
the bottom of the piano and the ehoe of the last note
filled the room.
Taylor looked impressed. He clapped for me.
"Boots think that you did a really good job," he told
me. I went over and patted Boots on the head.
"So do I," he said. I looked up at him, into his deep
blue eyes. Looking into his eyes almost got me as lost
as playing the piano. "Not only are you an awesome stage
director and a great sound booth operator, you can play
the piano beatifully," he complimented me.
"Thank you," I accepted his compliments. I could feel my cheeks
turning red and that's when I realized that Zac's drumming
had subsided. We left the old dusty room and walked out on stage.
"Tay, what song were you playing on the piano back
there?" Zac asked. "Trying to impress someone??" I
almost laughed at Taylor's expression.
"Actually, doof, it was Noell playing the piano,"
Taylor corrected Zac. Once again, all 4 of the men standing in
the room looked mighty inpressed with me. "And look who
we found in the room. Everyone, this is Boots."
Zac came up immediately and took Boots out of my arms.
"Aww, he's so cute! Hey Dad, can we keep him?? Please???"
I looked at my watch and noticed that I had to get
going so that I would make it to church on time.
"Well, it was very nice to meet all of you, but I have
to get going. I told my mom that I would be home by now
and I don't want to make her upset," I said, making my way
to the door. It was one of the hardest things to do; to leave
Hanson standing there and to voluntarily walk away.
Taylor followed my outside. "Boots wants to say
good-bye," he told me. I reached over and pet him on his
"Bye Boots. Make sure that they take good care of you,"
I said and then looked at Taylor.
"Don't worry, he's in good hands with us. We'll take
care of him," he reassured me. "And don't forget to email
me that picture."
That was the last time I saw Hanson, aside from the
concert the next night, but I wasn't able to get to talk to them.
They didn't stick around backstage after it was over
because they had to get moving onto the next city. The
next concert was the very next night and they needed to
get there and set up. I couldn't imagine having a life
I did send Taylor the picture of Amber, George and me.
However, it was a long time before I got a reply from him. I imagine that
he hardly has any time to get to check his email.
One day, just when I had given up on Taylor ever writing
back to me, I was surprised to see a message in my inbox
from Taylor Hanson. I smiled and when I saw that the
size of the message was 29K, I knew that he sent me a picture.
How are you doing? Things with me are rather busy,
so I'm sorry that it has taken me to long to write back
to you. I want to thank you for being our stage
director when we were at the Music Center. It was cool
to make a new friend. Also, I saw you in the crowd for
the show the next night. You should've come backstage, I
was hoping that I'd get a chance to see you and talk to you.
Boots is happy being the new Hanson tour bus pet. He
really enjoys all of the attention. So far, none of the
hotels we have stayed at have given us a problem with
bringing him inside. I have to go for now, but write
back soon and I'll try to check my email soon.
Later - Taylor"
And attached to his email was a picture of Boots.