When it comes to professional sports, I am through and through a fair-weather fan. Show me a NY team that’s in the playoffs, though, and I will watch with the same passion as I would if my own kid were pitching or playing center or quarterback. Regular season? I don’t have a clue what’s going on and insufficient interest to check it out.
But in other parts of life, I am an insane fan. As a high school cheerleader, I cried if Plainview High School lost an important game. I screamed until my voice ran out, a habit I paid for dearly in later years as I went under the knife to have nodules removed from my vocal cords. And though friends who have known me forever still cannot reconcile what they know of my television snobbery with my crazy loyalty to “American Idol,” I have been a super fan since the show’s inception. Simon or no Simon. And, yes, I get as anxious during eliminations as if (once again), it were my own child getting eliminated.
This year will be a torture. My dear high school friend Karyn’s long-term boyfriend Isaac’s daughter Rachel Zevita (got that?) is one of the Top 24. That’s 24 out of 100,000. That’s a miracle. A magical journey through impossible odds to a very big stage. But, then again, this very little young woman has an outsized voice, and the judges recognized that. Hopefully the audience will, too.
I first heard Rachel sing (practically in my ear) en route to Manhattan for dinner with Karyn and Isaac last year. My friends Ronne and Dale picked me up, and then we stopped to pick Rachel up near the college she attended. Ronnie, another Plainview alumnus, knew Rachel well because in yet another random everyone-knows-everyone situation, Rachel attended Camp Tioga, which Ronnie owns. “Sing,” we ordered Rachel, and sing she did.
Now, front and center rather than in the backseat, Rachel will be singing to the U.S. and beyond. If she goes no further (but she will, she will), she is already a star as are the others whose company she is in. So far I have gotten teary each time she’s been on the air, but that is not a huge departure in character. I cried when Adam Lambert came in second. When Jennifer Hudson got eliminated. When a contestant’s back story was particularly moving.
This season, with Karyn and Isaac only a phone call away, it is predictable that I will become even more of a maniac. I’ve emailed screenshot photos of Rachel to friends and family. Today I called my older daughter to tell her that Jennifer Lopez broke down crying during the cuts to the Top 24 – and has she seen Rachel? “Do you realize that you are calling me to talk about ‘American Idol’?” she asked.”Do you think this is normal?” No defense. She’s been home this whole vacation week with three vomit-y kids with fever and a semi-trained puppy with a shoulder injury who has had to be isolated from semi-trained puppy #2 in order to heal, and I’m talking about “American Idol”? That is embarrassing.
What to say? When I am a fan, I’m a fan to the finish. And that’s why this season, unlike other seasons during which I agonized but never once lifted the phone to vote, I will become a voting machine – text, phone, and Facebook. Over and over and over again. Maybe you will, too. Rachel Zevita. Remember that name. She belongs in the Top 10. The top five. Maybe she’ll be the one. She is really, really good. No bias. I promise.