Hot Topic (Not the Store) ‘Road Trip': Jesus Told Me Not to Eat and Beyoncé on Repeat Jackie Johnson

HelloGiggles reader Amanda gave me the word “Road Trip”, which instantly transported me back to the summer I road tripped it to audition for American Idol.

We were 3 BFFs  living in Dallas. Curtis, Tabitha and myself had just graduated high school and were finally all 18 and legally allowed to audition for A.I. Now, I’m sure if we woulda just waited a season, auditions would have been somewhere closer to us, like in Texas, but we were so anxious to become stars were decided to road trip it to St. Louis, Missouri.

The trip started out like any other teenage road trip. We made fun of the billboards (“That shop sells bowls made from pecan shells? Sign me UP!”) and played car games such as categories, license plates, name that tune, etc. At one point, when we hit St. Louis traffic, I got out of the car and ran ahead and we all had a hearty laugh. Typical stuff. But soon the trip took a trippy turn.

We got to our hotel and dolled up to go have dinner. Being tourists, we didn’t know where to eat but just decided to walk and wing it. We found a ton of restaurants but they were all closed. It was only 9pm so we were taken a back. St. Louis is a ghost town at 9pm? I thought Nelly was from here.

Finally we found a place that was open. It was an unassuming tapas place. The waiter was standing on the porch alone soliciting business to passers-by. We were starved at this point and even though this seemed odd we decided to check it out. We were the only people in the place. And they sat us outside on the back patio overlooking a scuzzy parking lot with a dumpster overflowing with garbage. Lovely. I guess we were too passive-aggressive to ask to be seated somewhere else, but I do remember us all discussing whether or not we should leave before they brought us any food. That’s how sketch-ball this place was.  We decided for whatever reason to stay.

The food was terrible. Ugh.  For some reason, whatever you ordered had a thick layer of goat cheese on top- which to me goat cheese is the work of the Devil. The waiter brought us waters half-full with one melted ice cube. I think that one guy was running the whole place by himself. But we were all so jazzed about Idol and our fast-approaching fame that we were taking it all in and having fun regardless of the crumby dining experience.

Curtis and I noticed that Tabitha wasn’t eating anything. Not even the free goat-cheese bread. She had been acting kind of weird the whole trip. Usually very outgoing and silly, she was being really quiet and reserved. She also fell asleep in the back seat during the road trip with her eyes open and freaked us out quite thoroughly. Something was up with her.

She then tells us that Jesus told her not only that she shouldn’t audition for Idol, but also not to eat for 3 days. Now, Tabitha is a wonderful strong Christian. She’s one of the good ones that isn’t judgmental or preachy – she just does her thing and lets others live how they please. But this prophecy had us saying, “,girl, really?! NO FOOD AND NO IDOL? REALLY!?” We were floored. Did Jesus tell you this restaurant was terrible and not to go here? Cause he shoulda passed that on!

Because Tabby was so amazing, we rolled with it. We all agreed that if any of us had an actual shot to make it on the show it was Tabby. She had the voice of an angel. And apparently the ability to talk to Jesus like an angel, too.

The next day was the big Idol day! We rolled up to the St. Louis Rams stadium where they were holding the auditions. It was insane. The entire stadium was full of fellow hopefuls. And we had to sit there with numbers on us like cattle in rows for hours on end. People would stand up and sing to entertain the crowds around them. Most were really talented singers. I didn’t stand up cause I wanted to reserve my voice for Simon.

The girl behind me was this Jessica Simpson wannabe girl in a Kangol hat with big hoop earrings. She was bragging out loud about all her singing training and experience. She said she was gonna sing Beyoncé’s ‘Dangerously In love’, which just so happened to be my LIFE. That album had just come out and, girl, I cried to that song and drove around lamenting my teen life all the time. So I wanted to hear her sing it for sure.

She sang it alright. FOR HOURS. On LOOP. And it was terrible. It sounded like a dying goat gasping for its last breaths. She did not do Beyoncé justice at all and she’s lucky that song is so fierce that it didn’t ruin it for me forever. This one line, “Darling I’m so proud, proud to be your girl”, she kept singing OVER and OVER again so flat and terribly. I started wondering if she knew any other parts of the song. She was tripping me out so hard core and I was trying to just keep focused for Simon.

Meanwhile, Tabitha still hadn’t  eaten anything and I think she was converting people to Christianity in the bathroom. In order to come in the stadium with us, she still had to fill out an audition form – so technically she was a contestant. At the last minute we convinced her to go through with it. I told her Jesus would want her to share her voice, and he’d want her to not pass out. We got her some Fritos from the snack machine and went down to the field to have our big moment!

Well, the moment wasn’t really that big. What you don’t see on TV is that first you have to sing in front of a producer along with 2 other people at the same time. Then after a few more rounds you get to meet the judges. And apparently that is super hard to do. They weed out a ton of people first. We saw so many great singers go in front of us and no one got a golden ticket. Eventually I stepped up with 2 other girls. We all sang at once; I sang ‘Foolish games’ by Jewel and the girl next to me meekly sang ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ while dancing like an old man. None of us made it and the producer dramatically cut off our entry bracelets. And that was the end of my dreams!

Curtis didn’t make it through, either, but Tabitha almost did! The producer told her to sing a second song. She sang ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ by Shania Twain. Then after hearing her sing again he also cut off her bracelet. Guess Jesus was right!

All in all, the trip was super fun, but we all got a reality check in St. Louis. We weren’t the only kids in American that thought we were gonna be famous. There were whole stadiums full of talented people all over. I moved to LA a few years later to live the dream. I didn’t fully learn my lesson cause I also auditioned for The Voice last year and didn’t make it, either. All I know is I still avoid goat cheese and blonde girls in kangol hats to this day!

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  1. This is hilarious! I’m really sad that you had such a bad experience with food in STL, I’m from there and I know a lot of restaurants (great ones) that stay open past 9pm. If you ever visit St. Louis again (if you aren’t too scarred from your trip lol) I would love to give you some recommendations. Good luck with your passions! Never give up!

  2. Brilliant.

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