Am I the biggest Queen fan? Certainly not. When I joined the Queen International Fan Club in 1982, the newsletters were full of pictures of fan club conventions, thousands of people taking weekend vacations to watch videos, play trivia games, play tug-of-war, trade rare 45s. All of this happened in exotic locations-Belgium, South America, Brighton. Anywhere but America, it seemed. So I kept to myself with my collection of 12 albums, 20 singles, and the few American rock magazines that mentioned Queen at all. Then I would go out high school parties, listen to Van Halen, new wave, Blondie 45s, Billy Joel, and Phil Collins, as if that was the outside world, and my room was another.
One afternoon in 1984, when my parents were out, I called the Fan Club in London, using the phone number from the album jacket of The Works. Ostensibly, I wanted to ask about my membership renewal, but I also wanted to talk to someone else who actually liked my favorite band. I would announce myself"Hello from America!" ask the man who answers about the weather, if a band member had been around that day. Of course they hadn't, I thought to myself, scoldingly. But of course I had to ask: the man on the phone being so much closer to them. Getting down to business, I inquire about my poster and new fan club newsletter, which I had yet to receive.
I say something about how I feel like I'm the only fan in America.
"Would be nice to live in England, where everyone's a fan," I say, mopingly. "Well," the English-accented man says on the other end. "We did have another person from America send something in," he says off-handedly.
"Really!" I say. I am excited, panting. "Who?"
This could be someone I could correspond with, without running up my parent's phone bill. Maybe, just maybe, it was a woman, killing two birds with one stone: my love life and my cultural exile.
He looks up the person. "Yes," he said, flipping through papers. "And that person...that person...is...you."
Both of us paused at this, the brutal, Spinal Tap pity of this, the newest single, "Hammer to Fall," failing to even dent the charts in the U.S.
I don't think I ever felt so alone.