Anne Marie, Ana, and I went to the piano bar early and saw some staff members getting the piano set up. At this point I really started freaking out, speculating that Kevin is going to play the piano and sing to us. If that happens, I wouldn't know how to handle myself! Seeing them set up the piano made me think "Howie, who?" Ha! We were so excited for our special event that we accepted the fact that the tournament with Howie wasn't going to happen. I was content with the decision.... or so I thought.
|Waiting for Kev. Why is that the 2 Kevin girls look so composed and I look like a nervous wreck?|
She barely finished her sentence before Ana and I bolt upstairs to the casino. There was already a huge crowd surrounding the table, so we squeezed through the crowd and then they started going over the rules. The dealer told us how the event was going to run:
- We would pick our seats in order that we placed in the earlier tournament. Meaning I would pick last.
- She would then explain the rules to us.
- Howie would come out and she'd explain the rules again. (I have no idea why she couldn't just explain the rules once)
- Then we play 7 hands
- Whoever has the most chips at the end of the 7 hands, wins.
|I just made it!|
After the dealer explains the rules, Howie comes out and takes the middle seat. I had to pinch myself that this was actually happening. Especially because it was almost taken away from me! He makes some small talk, but I sadly can't remember what he talked about because all I was focused on was the fact that I was playing blackjack with Howie. I know, I'm the worst! There has to be a term for this....Backstreet amensia??
So no sooner than Howie sits down and I start getting settled into the game, I see this same lady from Rose Tours pop up in the crowd and she motions "Hurry up, Kevin just got here."...............Oh you have got to be kidding me! We didn't even start the tournament! At this point, I am beside myself. I know we only have 7 hands, but I also know what I'm missing.
The game gets under way and it's going a lot slower than it was previously, which makes sense because its a full table and people are getting fancy and taking time with their bets. And in any other situation, I would've tried to slow down the event and savor my time with Mr. Howie D. But unfortunately, my head was in such a fog. I don't remember what Howie was talking about. I don't remember the cards that were dealt. All I remember is how anxious I was.
On hand #4, Ana had lost all of her chips so she just gets up and leaves. So now I'm really sweating bullets. It's probably been a good 10-15 minutes. And for all I know Kevin could have come and gone. By hand #6, we're now approaching 15-20 minutes. I keep looking over to Hal Roseman, who was watching and knew the situation. But all he did was shrug. Oye! I am literally dying on the inside.
I made up my mind. I can't stay a minute longer. I'm done with this tournament. I don't want to miss Kevin!
|Random picture of the BSB-themed blackjack table because I don't have any pics of me at the event :(|
I'm not sure she would've physically restrained me or anything had I continued to try and leave, but I clearly wasn't thinking straight. So I sat back down, and everyone yells, "Go all in!" Of course, why didn't I think of that sooner?! So I go all in hoping I lose...
....and of course I somehow manage to win that hand. So let me just pause here and recap the situation.
- Playing blackjack with Howie on a cruise in the middle of the Caribbean
- Never played blackjack for money in my life
- Beating a bunch of professional players with a huge stack of chips in front of me
- Also beating Howie
- Howie sees me squirming, and trying to leave the entire time he was there. What he and everyone else must've thought of me....I'll never know
- I'm simultaneously standing up Kevin in that exact moment
So now we have one hand left and I'm actually doing semi-well so I figure I have to stick it out one more hand. At this point the dealer decides to stop the game and count up everyone's chips. All I was thinking in my head is "C'moooooooooon! Lets gooooo!"
Well, after the 7th and final hand, I quickly scanned the table and saw that everyone has busted out of chips except for Howie, myself, and 1 other person. So I knew I had come in at least third place, but I didn't waste another second to see if I had won. My watch said 25 minutes past and I feared the worst - I missed the entire Kevin event. I sprinted SO fast back down to that piano bar. If you happened to be in my path and saw a crazy girl sprinting from the casino to the piano bar, my apologies. Now you know why. I knew I had this man waiting for me...
|Kevin getting his laptop set up for us|
I made my way back to join the trio and apologized profusely to Kevin for being late. He seemed to largely understand, but made a comment like they shouldn't have scheduled them both at the same time. I agree!
Catching my breath, I mentally scolded myself to try and forget about the stressful situation, and to just enjoy the time left I had with Kevin. As soon as I sat down he asked my my name and where I'm from, which was nice. One of the things I love about Kevin is how engaging he is and being genuinely interested in what we have to say. That proved to be true this evening as well. No sooner than I shared, he informed me that we would be taking a shot of tequila. I guess it was everyone else's second shot, my first. He went on to explain that this particular tequila was really good quality and goes down nice and smooth.
|Kevin pouring tequila and I guess that's me visibly shocked at the thought of doing a shot? Ha - I have no idea what I was doing!|
|Shots with Kevin|
One of the most special thing about this event was that he played these songs for us that no fan has heard yet. Yes, we heard some of these songs last year performed live. But I don't believe any other fan has heard these recorded versions. For me to sit here and say I've heard his music months before it gets released to the public, is super special. And just the fact that he had his personal laptop out, sharing his music with us. Its very surreal and indescribable how that feels. Its like we were old friends just hanging out and sharing music. It's something I'd do with my friends, scrolling through my iTunes to find a good song to jam to.
Anyway, he basically told us a little background about each of the songs, and then he'd play them. He also shared that he intends to release his album next year as well as tour. He said he wants to do intimate 200-300 person venues. I was so excited to hear this! I really hope that happens, especially with an anticipated slow BSB year. I will gladly take me some Kevvy Kev on tour. At one point I remember Ana looked over at his laptop and requested Back to Your Heart. Kudos to Ana on that one! Before he played it, he went on this mini-technical rant about which key he recorded the song in some of the challenges with recording it. It honestly went over my head.
|Group shot with Kevin|
Ana, Anne Marie, and I were all fortunate to have seen the full documentary so we wanted to share with him our thoughts on the film. I don't want to get into specifics and ruin any surprises, but we discussed some of the sensitive material that was brought up in the film. So that was another highlight of this event to me. I felt like we were talking about real, personal issues. And in typical Kevin fashion, I think he got choked up twice during this segment of the convo ;)
We also talked a little about his family. He shared a super cute story that Kristen shared with him, while he was away, about their kids. He even said, "My son, Max." To me it shows how humble he is...just because we obviously know his sons' names. Hearing about his kids was another highlight of our time, just because as much as I love getting inside scoop on some of his solo projects and the BSB stuff, hearing him tell stories about his family are things I don't get to hear at a sound check party. It didn't feel like an interview type question, but again, just hanging out with a friend.
I swear we were just getting going, and then Keith came over and said "last song." Boo! Granted we were still chatting for a while after the song ended. You know how Kevin likes to talk, so we milked that for a few more minutes. But sadly, all good things must come to an end. So before we left, we had Keith take a few pictures for us.
|Me and Kev|
I'd say the event lasted around 25 minutes. I later found out from Anne Marie, that I maybe missed the first 5 minutes or so. Turns out it took a while for them to set up the speakers, and with Kevin being the perfectionist he is, it took some time. I was incredibly relieved that I didn't miss that much of it.
After Kevin left, the 3 of us stood there still in disbelief that this happened. If Justin wasn't there to take pictures, I wouldn't believe it myself. I composed myself, and headed back up to the casino. I was still kinda afraid to go back up there, I felt like I was retuning to the crime scene or something. But I went. The dealer told me that I ended up coming in second place, and won $250. I just sat back and had to laugh. I was not in this competition for any monetary prize. Playing with Howie was the only prize I wanted. Of course I was absolutely thrilled, as I was able to put that back into my cruise fund.
That hour was the most hectic, intense, amazing, and special hour of my Backstreet life. I look back on it with such mixed emotions. I'm so happy I was able to do both events, and finally have not 1, but 2 super amazing, unique moments on the cruise with the boys. But at the same time, I feel like I short-changed both of them. I wasn't 100% mentally present at either of them given the situation, especially Howie's. I also feel like I was incredibly rude to both Kevin and Howie - running out on one of them, and being late for the other. I hate that the most. Not that they'll remember. But I will.
I don't regret anything, but I don't think that Rose Tour staff should've told Ana and I to go play in the tournament when there clearly wasn't enough time. It was the one time I really needed Backstreet time, and it failed me! I don't want it to come across that I'm complaining in any way, because I'm so grateful.
Shameless Request - As you probably realized from above, I don't have a single picture of me playing in the blackjack tournament. If anyone out there has a picture of this tournament, or knows someone who might have a picture, I will be eternally grateful! Please feel free to email me or post below. Thank you, times a million, in advance.