Neil, can I give you a hug?

Dayton, OH 1992
February 7, 1992

Arrived in Dayton about 2:00 p.m. after a plane delay at the Minneapolis airport. About 4:00 p.m. we went downstairs to the lobby of the Stouffer Hotel where Neil was staying and waited. His bus was outside with the motor running.

At about 4:30 p.m. the band came through the lobby, followed by Neil. He looked scruffy… 3-day beard, long messy hair and was wearing a hunter green/kahiki jacket with hood. He looked very small! However, he did come over and talk to us. I was standing more next to him than in front of him. In about 2 seconds I made the decision to ask him … “Neil, can I give you a hug”! He said to me in a deep, quiet voice, “Oh, no, then I’d have to give everybody one.” Well, everyone screamed “yes!” I guess he did put his arms around me first and held on for life. This all-encompassing bear hug lasted for at least 30 seconds and felt verrry good. He went on to hug about 15 more of us (including a lady sitting on a hotel couch just minding her own business!) and I got back in line and gave him another hug. This time I said “We love you, Neil” and gave him a kiss on the right cheek… whiskers and all. Whew! It was love!

We went to the Nutter Arena at Wright State University about 5:00 p.m. to get a good parking space. It was blustery and snowing a bit, so we didn’t want to walk too far. We had 7th row on the floor seats. Not too bad! The concert started about 8:20 p.m. Neil was in top form, both physically and voice-wise. He looked great! It was a total transformation from whom we had just seen in the hotel hours earlier. Such confidence compared to the Neil we had just encountered in the lobby.

2 1/2 concert hours later we left for the hotel to get there before Neil did. We stood around and soon Don and Frank (the security guards) met us and told us to stay behind a certain point. He asked us not to approach Neil, let him approach us. Soon we saw the band get off the bus. I’d taken a candy bouquet (which I had brought along all the way from MN – in a cardboard box! – out of the box and had positioned it behind me under the lobby desk. It all happened quite quickly. Neil did come through past us all… He was wearing the parka again, but this time the hood was up and he was barely visible! I’d turned around to get the bouquet and when I turned around… there he was right by us. I made another 1-second decision and walked towards him very slowly and deliberately with the bouquet and presented it to him. He pulled me to him for a hug (again) and before I knew what I was doing – besides staring into those big brown eyes which were by now in my face… HE GAVE ME A SOFT, WARM KISS RIGHT ON MY LIPS!!!!! I was thrilled! He turned away to go up to his room.

We did finally get to sleep about 2:00 a.m. after going up to the top floor restaurant and talking to Vince… I miss Vince!

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