Seeing Noreen before knowing Noreen

The thing with knowing a lot of David Cook fans is, when something big happens on that front, you tend to know about it. So when he returned to the Philippines two weekends back - two concerts, one in Manila and one in Cebu - watching my Twitter timeline whiz by felt endless.

Don't get me wrong. I know what I got myself into. Yes, there was no escaping it, but I was quite curious to see how my friends (and everybody else) would react as the concert drew near. Meet and greet passes? I have to go there. Television appearances? I have to go there. A third concert in Jakarta? I bought tickets. Who wants to go with me?

The week after the concert was the sugar crash, so to speak. Mika called it "post-David Cook depression" and she wouldn't snap out of it. Luckily for her, she told me, that week was an uneventful one school-wise, because she hasn't quite gotten back to reality. I don't think she wants to either. I'm not sure if she's the one who said "I'll remember this day for the rest of my life" or something along those lines, but I'm convinced it's her. Or maybe not. There are a lot of David Cook fans on my timeline, after all.

I was a bit amused, I'll admit, but I get it. I totally get it. Two years ago I was the crazy one - I was hesitant, sure, but I went to the (front door of the) Magic 89.9 studios by myself just to have a leg up in seeing Allison Iraheta in person, after all. I took a half-day leave at work, went to a mall I've never been to before, and pretty much acted like a loopy guy throughout those ten hours. And the days before, and definitely the days after. I definitely remember looking at my right hand and going, Allie really touched this hand, yes? And then, yes, she did, she definitely did.

And yet I actually don't remember much about the actual day of the concert, and the meet and greet session that came after. Well, yes, I definitely (obviously) have a general sense of what went on - in part because I blogged about it in detail - but I cannot recount every little detail of it, more so reconstruct all those little details so I can live through the whole experience again. Or at least that's what Mika was suggesting. The only thing that I remember flashing back on my head was when I saw Allie walk out of the radio studio and pass by me just as I was on the phone with someone, and thinking that she's taller than I thought. And nothing more.

Oh, I remember the concert itself. I left my seat - there were chairs, and I was in the second row - and I foolishly left my bag. I rushed to the front of the seats, holding my camera, and sat on the floor like a little kid, which made Allie loom even taller. (With heels, we were an inch apart. I am still taller.) The frenzy began when she left the stage and got closer to us, and suddenly I was swarmed by hands, lots of it.

Allie only hit my left hand once, which was okay with me, because right-handed me knew she'll at least touch both my hands at the end of the day. I know, I was very loopy.

"I'm the first one to hold her hand that night. I held it three times. Three. Freaking. Times."

That's Noreen. She's, I don't know, 13? 14? Yeah, I know, another kid. I first met her (on Twitter, naturally) exactly a year after the concert - that was the time when I was still using my photo with Allie as my Twitter photo. (A victim of moving on.) She saw that photo - it somehow has magnetic properties, because I met another Allie fan, the Iowa-based Melissa, that way - and we started talking.

She was at the concert, too. Braved the elements, more of, since I remember it being a rainy day that day, and she lives in far off Hagonoy, Bulacan. (It gets flooded there. That's all you need to know.) (Also, Madel, a trip from Hagonoy to Manila is longer than a trip from Pasig to Alabang. You know what I mean.) Enjoyed the same six songs sung to a backing track, waited on the same line that led to her CD being signed. I'm not sure if she has a photo with her, though. Either she did not have one, for some reason - I refuse to believe that - or she wouldn't show me. I never pressed her, really. She just said she looked terrible on that day.

And then it clicked.

While waiting for the concert to begin - it began really late - I was scanning the crowd. Who am I watching the concert with? A bunch of Cookistas, their friends, and all these little kids. I'm exaggerating. Tweens. Young girls awkwardly making the transition from elementary to high school. And young boys, too, but mostly young girls, which made me feel really awkward.

When I moved to the front of the stage, I remember this girl who looked like she was 11. She had these deep eyebags, the presence of which I never quite understood. Genetics? Stress? Also, for some reason, those eyebags distracted me. Annoyed me, even. Maybe it's me being awkward. Maybe it's my nerves. I was this close to Allison hours ago, damn it. Maybe it's the video during the wait that did my head in. I don't know. I just got fixated on those eyebags, at least until Allie sang "Cry Baby" and she reached out to everyone and her hand touched mine.

Noreen is that girl with the eyebags. I realized this when I added her up on Facebook. The eyebags weren't there, but the first time I encountered her photo I swore she was familiar. I told you, I can't piece every little detail together. I did get fixated on one other thing - my plan to not have a photo with Allie where we look at the camera, but instead, a photo where we just look at each other's eyes and, maybe, try not to break character. I shelved it.

Or maybe I can piece every little detail together. It just needs some triggering. After the meet and greet, I waited for my companions to come out of the toilets. Or maybe it was the other way around. "Meet and greet na!" Okay. Never mind I said what I said.

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