Toby Keith and How I Made a Fool of Myself

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Parents will do almost anything for kids.  Not just their own kids, but their siblings’ kids, their best friends’ kids, the kid down the street…sometimes just any kid at all.   So, last year, when my friend (who is like a brother to me) asked me to help him figure out how to promote his daughter’s singing career in an online contest, I went all out.  I spent hours every day for months on end promoting her in every way I could imagine.  First, because she’s THAT good and second, because, well, I’m simply addicted to all things computer related.

Little did I know then how that would become the first step on the road to my making a fool of myself in front of Toby Keith.

For those of you who don’t know Toby Keith (shame on you!), he’s an incredible country music star. He’s got a bit of the rocker in him, plays up his American pride, and throws one heck of a good concert. My middle son, Jeremy (12 years old in two weeks), and I have been huge fans for a long time and I remember having to play Toby’s “How Do You Like Me Now” video on the CMT website for my son over and over when he was younger because it was his absolute favorite. A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to be able to get front row tickets to his concert and one of the guitar players tossed a guitar pick to my son.

As if we were in the middle of an old Coca Cola commercial, the pick had landed perfectly in my son’s hands and he beamed up at the stage as if his whole world had suddenly lit up with fireworks. This son of mine – who I sometimes think couldn’t find his hand in front of his face if you pointed it out to him – still has that pick.

Jeremy with Toby Keith

Jeremy with Toby Keith

We were thrilled when my friend got tickets to the latest Toby Keith concert for his wife, daughter, myself and my son but this time with an added bonus – passes to the Meet and Greet session so we could actually meet Toby Keith and have our picture taken with him. One favor, he said, was all he needed in return. His daughter was bringing a copy of her CD with her to hand to Toby. My friend knows someone who knows someone (he’s from Chicago and somehow that’s the town of all connections, I swear) who worked with Toby and told us to let Toby know he was recommending her CD – had even sent Toby a copy already. My friend wanted me to relay that message to Toby and make sure the CD got in his hands. Umm….okay.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him he was barking up the wrong tree.  Sure, I speak in front of hundreds of people regularly and never break a sweat. Speaking about my field of expertise and getting Toby Keith to listen to my friend’s daughter’s CD, however, are two completely different animals. Charm and grace and thinking on my feet are not my virtues, those having been parceled to my sweet sister. Not wanting to steal the thunder from his wife, I asked if she wouldn’t prefer to have the honor. No, he assured me she’d crumble in Toby’s presence.

This is how I found myself last Friday night, taking my son to an outdoor Toby Keith concert (in the middle of August in Phoenix, AZ – who plans these things??) and rehearsing a calm, but passionate, plea to Toby. I had a whole spiel worked out, playing on his own efforts to break into the country music scene, his understanding of what parents will do for their kids, the connection we had to the person who had worked with him before. I’d visualized the witty conversation back and forth, him showing an interest in Cali’s CD and me successfully convincing him that, you know, when you have a spare second out of your busy life to please take a listen.

Cali with Toby Keith

Cali with Toby Keith

It should come as no surprise that it didn’t quite go like that. I hadn’t foreseen my having to sweat for a solid hour in the evening heat before it was time for the Meet and Greet, making my hair a frazzled nightmare and causing me to literally wipe rivers of liquid off of my forehead and the back of my neck. Nor did I realize that Meet and Greet is a nice way of saying “get your two seconds with a star and move along”.

At the appointed time, we got in a line of 200 people while a group of handlers worked hard to keep us all moving. “Get in line, squeeze up, got to MOVE people – Toby has to be on in 20 minutes!” It became very clear at this point that we were not going to have a lot of chit-chat time with Toby Keith which had me frantically looking for alternatives to my nicely planned script.

Suddenly, I realized Cali was in a bit of a panic because she wanted her mother to meet Toby first, explain about Cali and then Cali could walk up and hand him her CD but her mom has said she just doesn’t think she can do it. (Her husband obviously knows her well. 🙂 )  So I bravely told Cali I’d go before her and pave the way, she could follow me, then Jeremy and Karen last.  I put my game face on, wiped the latest glaze of sweat from my face and took a deep breath. As we turned a bend in the line, I had a chance to watch Toby greet those before us. He was pleasant and smiling and charming. While people were rushing through, he was still being awfully gracious and taking a minute or so to talk with each one. I felt a bit relieved. Maybe this would work after all.

Minutes later, it was my turn to rush up, stand next to Toby, and smile at the cameraman.  I walked up next to him, completely – too completely – focused on getting Cali’s CD in his hands.  Did I say hi to Toby Keith?  Did I shake Toby’s hand?  Did I say I’m a huge fan?  Did I let him know that I had to play his video for my son over and over because HE’s a huge fan?  Did I say ANYTHING nice to Toby at all?  Nope.  Idiot. I said:

“Toby (like we’re best friends), I’ve got one job to do while I’m here.  The girl behind me is a singer and has her CD with her.  So and so (the person we know through a friend) said he sent you a copy but he hooked us up (yes, I said “hooked us up”!  Where did I come up with that????) with passes tonight so she could give you her CD directly.  Is it okay if she hands it to you?”

Now, if that wasn’t a stunning sales pitch, I don’t know what is (insert sarcastic shake of the head and rolling of the eyes here).

I have a feeling (by the look on his face) that what he heard was, “Squawk, squawk, quack, quack, bzzz, bzzzz, CD, something, crazy lady”.  He kind of nodded at me with this confused look on his face and I walked off.  Never turned to the camera.  Never stopped to have my picture taken.  Never said goodbye.  Did what I needed to do – in the most ungraceful way possible – and moved on.  I didn’t even wait to see Cali with him.  I didn’t even stand there and wait for my own son!!  Off I went.  When my friend had asked me to do this favor, I knew I’d make a fool of myself.  I just know how I am.  I just didn’t know EXACTLY how I was going to make a fool of myself.  Now I know.  I’m such a nerd.  🙂

So, Toby Keith, if you ever stumble across this post in some odd, ironic twist of fate, I’m sorry I was such an idiot. I’m sorry I couldn’t manage to tell you how talented you are or how much enjoyment your music has given my son and I.  I ask you to forgive me in the name of parents everywhere who only want to help the children in their lives. And, most of all, I want you to listen to the CD. Listen to First Hate, Cali’s original recording, on her own website.

(Come on, my little gaggle of readers, I didn’t say I was going to STOP trying to help Cali – just that I felt bad I had done it so poorly. 🙂 )

8 comments for “Toby Keith and How I Made a Fool of Myself

  1. Lyn
    August 17, 2009 at 7:06 am

    Such a cute story. First of all don’t beat yourself up, your intentions and effort is wonderful, you did all of this for someone else. Toby being the professional entertainer, I am sure completely understands how this can happen. This happens most likely on every meet and greet and I am sure he understands and did not think anything less than you were a bit nervous. He probaley does get hundreds of requests to listen to C.D’s unfortunately and just doesn’t have the time, but, not knowing Toby personally, I can’t say for sure and the more people you reach out to, the better your chances are. Give yourself a pat on the back for being such a wonderful friend. They will never forget your efforts for as long as they live and who knows, maybe something will come out of it after all 🙂

    • Erica
      August 17, 2009 at 8:55 am

      Lyn – thanks so much for taking the time to comment! Yes, it’s going to be one of those memories that crops up in my head every now and then with a tiny flame of embarrassment. You’re right, though, it’s not quite so humiliating knowing I did it for someone else. And, I’d do it again, darn it, if I had the chance. Of course, I should be careful about saying things like that because knowing her father, I have a feeling it’s very likely I will have to do something similar in the near future! 🙂

  2. Candlgrl768/Liz
    August 17, 2009 at 12:54 pm


    LMAO, I absolutely know how you feel.. I’m glad I’m not the only foolish fumbling fool out there.
    Last year I had my Toby Meet & Greet & knew I was a bit nervous but as the line moved along & seeing him with others I thought OK.. this isn’t so bad, I was even joking with a few friends of his behind me. That was until they called next & that next person was I. I felt the heat rush up my back & the palms of my hands are now clammy.. My knees were getting weak, the items my husband gave to give to him were passed to him with no words said, He asked what’s this as I stumbled over my words to tell him. He asked me who was I with, I replied (thinking who I was with duh) my husband, he said well where is he.. “ah by the stage”. He said “I sure hope you enjoy the show” as we posed for pictures. He then said” well you smell pretty good what is it”? I in turn with my sarcastic tone said “it’s called perfume” (Dumb ass I was!) He looked grinned & said I know what kind is it? (Laughing of course) I said ahh ahh I don’t remember stumbling again.. I felt like such an idiot.. I think he could sense the nervousness & was trying to calm me by asking questions .. I was trembling so bad I don’t know how I got out of the room.. only I do remember the photographer saying “next time don’t forget to bring your tongue” .
    So you see Toby sees people making fools of themselves every day.. you’re not alone 🙂
    I’m sure your efforts were greatly appreciated & you have memories to last a lifetime. I’m sure
    if something comes from giving Cali’s CD she’ll never let you live this one down, As my dear hubby laughs at me all the time. Laugh with it as Toby probably did, wish you the best of luck
    with Cali’s CD & hope you find the right hands to get it in.

    • Erica
      August 17, 2009 at 2:57 pm

      Liz – OK, your story is even funnier than mine! 🙂 The part about not forgetting to bring your tongue next time is a riot. I apparently had my tongue but my brain melted in the darn Arizona heat. Maybe that will be my excuse. I was really, really hot – complete melt-down. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who lost themselves a bit in front of Toby. I can’t imagine what he must think when we all stumble over ourselves in front of him. I’m sure he’s used to it but WE aren’t! Thanks for the sweet thoughts! Erica

  3. Carolina
    August 19, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    I loved the stories and I can sense your love for the Man. Sometimes, when we are nervous the last thing we can do is control the inner wirdo within us. LOL. I am sure he is use to it by now. 🙂
    Your guys are true fans and that’s all Toby can ask for.
    Thank you for sharing your stories and know you weren’t the first and will not be the last to be “The Fool”

    • Erica
      August 19, 2009 at 6:47 pm

      Thanks so much, Carolina! It was absolutely an inner weirdo kind of thing. 🙂 I feel much better having had such great responses from fellow fans. “The Fool” today but not forever, Erica

  4. August 30, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Ain’t it cool? All the rehearsin’ we do and when the big moment comes and goes, we think of every ‘ck’ we stuttered across or all those ‘ummmmmmms’. Oh yeah, not to mention that we rarely say anything near what we rehearsed.

    Yet, years later we look back (or Toby does minutes later) and say to ourselves, “That was one cool chick.” Okay, not me….I’d be the fumbling idiot, but nowhere near a cool chick.

    Just think of all the drunken a-holes who Toby had to wade through over the years before he briefly met you.

    You ain’t no fool.

  5. September 13, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Smiling here and thinking what I would have done. Once I met a famous baseball player, paid to get his autograph and was tongue tied when I got up there. At least you “took care of business” and said something!

    Never heard of Toby Keith but now because of you story I will know the name when I hear it 😉

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