I almost dated Richie Sambora.
It’s a story I like to tell myself, a fantasy that could have happened but didn’t. It could have happened though. And although me dating Richie Sambora might be a fantasy, I’m talking about what actually happened in what seems like another life a long time ago. So before you think I’m some kind of nut job, let me explain how it all went down.
My boyfriend at the time was one of the kitchen managers for the Hard Rock Cafe in Honolulu. I had plenty a good meal at the Hard Rock Cafe in Honolulu back then. I used to love the sourdough grilled swiss and tomato sandwich served with a pile of thick fries then a Corona to wash it all down. These days I’m more of a dark beer Guiness kind of lady, but in those days Corona served me just fine. Or an expensive shot of good sipping tequila, but at the Hard Rock it was usually Corona. If it wasn’t Corona, it was Miller Light. Never Budweiser. Ick. Or Coors. Even bigger ick.
Favorite, or not, beer aside, Bon Jovi was amidst a big tour; I think it was 88/89. They had three nights at the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu and then a ten day break before their next show somewhere on the Mainland, Texas I think. It’s been so long, I don’t remember all the details.
Now I like them just fine, but I’m not a major Bon Jovi fan and haven’t followed their career. I don’t even know how many original members are still in the band. I do know, however, that Richie is no longer playing with Bon Jovi. And not because we stay in touch. I looked it up. He’s doing his own thing now.
The band had a private after concert party scheduled for the last night in Hawaii. They booked the Hard Rock Cafe. My boyfriend was scheduled to work the party. The Hard Rock staff had strict instructions to be unobtrusive, respectful, and above all to STAY OUT OF THE WAY AND DO NOT BOTHER THE BAND, THE CREW, OR ANY OF THE PARTY GOERS. So naturally I insisted that my boyfriend let me in to this party. He did!
I get there early and am hanging out at the bar on the upper level. I haven’t been to that Hard Rock Cafe in over twenty years so don’t know what it looks like now, but back then it had a lower level with the center bar and a step up to a second level that went around the lower level. Tables lined the second level, and a bar bordered the kitchen. That is if my memory serves. It’s been awhile.
People are starting to show, and I’m sitting up at the bar by the kitchen on a stool with a straight shot down to the floor. Some of the Bon Jovi entourage are down around the center bar and milling around on the lower level. The band hasn’t yet arrived. I’m feeling pretty awkward because I know I’m not supposed to be there. We hear someone coming through the front, and soon Richie bursts in, arms spread out in welcome to all. He is the first member of the band to arrive.
As he struts in, he turns his head and looks right at me. He lights up into a smile as wide as space, and his arms spread even wider. Now mind you my boyfriend is standing right there next to me emanating. Emanating? Yes. Emanating. And it’s not good cheer and love. He is a tense live wire glaring hard at Richie. He is emanating jealousy, exuding a “This is my lady loser, back off!” kind of vibe.
The boyfriend has his hand resting light on my shoulder, but I’m certain if I had attempted to stand and run to Richie’s outspread arms, the hand would have pressed me down back into that stool. He was gonna keep a hold on his prize. I didn’t run to Richie’s arms, but I could have. Even had the boyfriend not been standing there, though, I wouldn’t have run to Richie. If I’m in a relationship, I’m in a relationship, and I don’t cheat, even with Richie Sambora in 1989, even if the boyfriend isn’t around.
And even if I were single at the time, running into a strange guy’s arms at a private party, or any where, isn’t my style. I’m too reserved, too shy, too introverted, and if I don’t know you, even if you are a famous rock star, even if you are Richie Sambora, I’m not gonna just throw myself at you.
Of course I had been sipping on my Corona. It was about a fourth of the way gone. One fourth of a beer is just the right amount to put this lightweight girl right into a happy pleasing buzz of lost inhibitions. Maybe it was just enough of a buzz to give me the “Oh who cares?” attitude. Maybe I would have run up to Richie Sambora.
Probably not though. But I may have approached him at some point, especially after another few sips on the beer. Or he might have approached me. This was a mellow party. The band and the crew seemed fried from the long tour. Not a lot of women were there. I stood a pretty good chance.
But I was in a relationship. The boyfriend was right there keeping a watchful eye on things. Then there was me, getting in my own way. You see, I can be shy and self conscious, and that part of me felt plain and ugly and dumb sitting there on a stool watching a party that I wasn’t invited to. But in my fantasy memory, I was radiant, sexy, and alluring. Richie couldn’t resist me.
Richie hesitated for a second when he smiled at me. For a moment I thought for sure he was on his way up to my stool. But he felt the psychic bomb coming from the boyfriend, and he turned and finished his strut up to the center bar. Amidst hand clasps and back pats, Richie melded into the group.
Not long after, the rest of the band came strolling in. I don’t remember the order, only that Jon was last.
You know, I don’t remember a whole lot after that, and no not because I drank another fourth of a Corona. I just don’t remember. I do remember that Jon didn’t say much to anyone. He didn’t smile a lot either. I’m guessing he needed to let his voice rest after three nights in a row, not to mention the months preceding, of wailing it out on stage.
For a rock and roll after concert party from a big name band on tour, not much happened.
It was just a party, people drinking and laughing, talking and having a good time. Jon wandered around quietly, and no one bothered him much. I did catch Richie’s eye once or twice. He saw me up there. I stayed at my post and respectfully did not bother anyone at the party.
I only did one thing that was questionable. Only I didn’t actually do it. I made the boyfriend do it. He snuck into the crowd and snapped a picture of Jon.
Even sitting up away from everyone, watching from the outskirts, a party that I wasn’t supposed to be attending, I felt the general low level excitement and relief. I got it. They just wanted to let down and be easy for awhile.
I could have joined the party. Looking back, maybe I should have. I know no one would have noticed or cared. No one except the boyfriend of course. He would have noticed and cared and been beside himself with jealousy.
I realize I might need to clarify something lest you get the wrong idea. The boyfriend may have been very jealous, but he at no time ever was mean or violent. He was just insecure and protective and possessive. I finally left him because I couldn’t take the insecurity anymore. I mean one time we lived in a twelve story apartment building, top floor, and I would go out on the lanai for some air and privacy. Give me one moment to myself please!
Well I went out there one night and just hung out enjoying the warm evening trade winds breezing through. I must have been there awhile because pretty soon he comes out all pouty and fearful looking for me wondering where I’d gone. I asked him, since he saw me go out on to the lanai, where he thought I might be going. He said he thought I might have climbed down and went off somewhere.
Say what!? First off, I’m scared to death of heights. Secondly, what? Who does that? We are up twelve stories, twelve. And how am I going to climb down? Lanai by lanai? Umm, are you crazy? If I was going anywhere I’d be leaving by the front door. Yeah. I was about done by then.
So looking back, maybe I should have dated Richie Sambora. I had my chance.
Yeah. I really should have dated Richie Sambora.
Disclaimer: Title photo is not Richie Sambora.