Moth StorySlam

On Jan 4 2012, I won the LA Moth StorySlam. The theme was "rebound." My winning story is featured on episode 1209 of the Moth Radio Hour, the Dec 9 2014 Moth Podcast, the Moth Youtube Channel, and on Record Store Day's Vimeo Channel. The scores were 9.6, 9.8, and 9.9.

When I was a teenager, in spite of being a straight A student, I had delinquent tastes in music. I loved 70s punk rock like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols, who, if you don't know, are the spiritual ancestors of bands like Nirvana and Green Day. Of all these bands, my absolute favorite were those godfathers of punk, Iggy Pop and the Stooges. Nobody epitomized sex, drugs, and rock n' roll the way they did.

It was 1997, and Iggy's record company had just released a greatest hits compilation called "Nude and Rude" to coincide with his 50th birthday. Being a delinquent, I skipped class to listen to the CD at my mall's Blockbuster music, but then, being a straight A student, I wrote a review of it for my local paper, The Sun Sentinel. When the article was published, I clipped it, and sent it to Iggy's record company hoping they would deliver it as fan mail.

And they did! A few months later, I got this envelope in the mail, no return address, New York postmark, and a Georgia O'Keefe flower postage stamp, which my artist friend, Carlos, later explained was supposed to represent lady parts. So I tear open the envelope and inside is a card with this absurd photo of Iggy on the cover wearing a crown, and when I open it, I realize that it's a personal note from Iggy himself! Iggy wrote:

"Ameera, hi, I got your letter. When you get this card, give me a call if you want to, please, 212-982-7291. There's a machine, so leave a number if I'm not there. I'll be in South Florida quite soon (which is where I lived at the time); it'd be nice to meet you. Iggy."

I was nervous and flipping out because Iggy Pop was my idol, my teenage fantasy, and he wanted to talk to me on the phone. I was sure I was going to pass out, so I begged my boyfriend, Eric, to phone the number on a three way conference call for moral support. Eric dials the number, and the answering machine picks up. The message on the machine isn't something normal and comforting like "hi, I'm not here, leave a number after the beep" but rather Iggy sneering "this is that thing you throw peanuts at; take a shot sucka!" So poor Eric is awkwardly leaving a message when Iggy, who screens his phone calls like Gwen Stefani, picks up... Now, Eric is stammering and calling him "Mr. Pop" and somehow Iggy smoothly talks him into hanging up. And then Iggy and I are alone together on the phone.

I'd like to think that, after reading my review, Iggy must have thought I was older and worldlier than I was because we hit it off really well. He was in the process of getting divorced, was on the rebound, leaving New York, moving to Miami, and he wanted to meet me! He told me that he liked my exotic name, so although we never discussed it explicitly, I was pretty sure that I would get to live out my wildest rock star fantasies with Iggy Pop! Iggy and I spoke a couple of nights in a row, and in the meantime, I had persuaded my friend, Carlos, to drive me to Miami. Everything was set, except for a time and a place.

Let me stress that this was happening in 1997, when people still talked to each other on the phone and didn't just text all the time. Also, I only had one line in my house, and the kind of family where everyone picks up the phone in the other room and listens in or interrupts as they see fit. So, when I called Iggy the next night to arrange a meeting, my mom, who had gotten word that I was spending a lot of time on the phone with an older man, picks up the other line and says "Ameera, time for beddy byes; it's a school night."

The game was up. I awkwardly confessed that I was only a high school student, and Iggy politely explained that he couldn't meet me anymore or every male member of my blood line would come after him with swords. That was the last I ever heard from him.

At the time, I was absolutely mortified because the coolest thing that had ever happened to me had just ended in the most uncool way imaginable. But, after years of therapy, I've come to see that the real hero of this story is not Iggy or me, but my mom, who despite working two jobs, still had the attention span to save me from my inner teenage delinquent. And while I didn't get to live out my rock star rebound fantasies with Iggy Pop, she got to live out every mother's fantasy. My mom told Iggy Pop that it was a school night.