Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Tuesday and Wednesday nights have taken on a different meaning in my town this spring. We have an Idol in the hunt. Kris Allen hails from Conway, Arkansas and is a student at my university. And to almost everyone's surprise -- since he was not pegged as a front-runner in the early episodes and made it to the voting rounds with hardly any camera time -- he's in the top five on American Idol.
As the number of contestants has gotten smaller, the Kris Allen fan apparatus here in Conway has gotten more elaborate. From viewing parties at local student hangouts, to events hosted by the campus dining service, to a giant throwdown in the basketball arena with thousands of people and an MTV camera crew.
That's where Noel was tonight. Last week he had the bright idea that if Kris hung on, he would report on the hometown Idol madness for the A.V. Club. So after dinner he strolled over to the Farris Center and sat in the stands surrounded by little kids, college students, and townspeople of every description. The local newspaper handed out official Kris Allen fan banners and slapped stickers on the entrants. Supporters came prepared with T-shirts. Chic-Fil-A broke out the cow costumes.
I'm about to watch the performance on TiVo delay -- the same one Noel watched live on the giant screen. And even though I've been an avid Idol watcher for a long time, I never thought I'd get caught up in the hometown hype. But here I am getting stupid excited, not just because he's one of ours, but because he's got a chance. I've been transformed into a fan.