IDOL: Arena viewing party hosts Bowersox fansWritten by Betsy Woodruff | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s 10:15 p.m. May 26 and the Huntington Center is almost empty.
Sixteen minutes ago, several hundred people clenched their fists, gritted their teeth, whispered their final prayers and squeezed their eyes shut as “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest opened his mouth to say the name they had all been dreading: “Lee DeWyze.”
A few scattered boos, a few fists in the air, and the place evacuated.
“I’m shocked, I’m really shocked, I thought she had it in the bag,” said Michelle Larrow, voicing a belief everyone seemed to share.
“I think she knew,” said Kathy Belsoie. “She was breaking down before the announcement was even made.”
Belsoie had a unique reason to be disappointed. She taught one of the classes Crystal took while attending the Toledo School for the Arts.
She recalls that Crystal was an outgoing, creative student who was always interested in those around her.
“I would give her an assignment, and she wouldn’t say anything. And she would come back with something especially creative,” she said.
Belsoie remembered that Crystal always seemed comfortable onstage.
“She loved it. She moved with ease. It doesn’t matter, she’s going to have a wonderful career. We’re going to buy her CD.”
Her daughter, Kelly Perz, was bitter.
“I’m disappointed, because I think it was a lot of young girls voting for Lee DeWyze,” Perz said. “The true talent is Crystal.”
A group of students from Crystal’s school echoed Perz’s sentiment: More girls voted than guys, and girls voted for the cute boy. That’s just the nature of ‘American Idol’.”
“She’ll still go places,” said Ben Abbott, one of the students.
“I think she’ll still have a better career,” added Kiley Brandon.
The other students agreed. They said Crystal will do just fine without “Idol’s” help.
Another theory explaining Crystal’s shocking defeat surfaced:
“It sucks!” said Paul Kruthaup. “I think that she did a better job, but he comes from a larger city, so he got more votes. That’s the way the game goes.”
Many looked shell-shocked.
“The wrong person won,” said Todd Gague flatly. “Who knows? You can’t really say why. Yeah, Chicago is big, but Ohio is bigger than Illinois. Who knows?”
“It was awful,” said Kim Webb. “I just can’t believe she lost. She did so much better than him. I can’t believe she lost.”
But for the Toledoans who trudge daway from the new arena, lighting cigarettes, holding hands, and wiping a few stray tears, all hope was not lost.
“She’s already a winner with us,” said Mayor Mike Bell before the show began. “This is just a big celebration — a continuation of a celebration we already started.”
Daniella Fioes maintained an optimistic attitude.
“I still think she should have won, but she did very good — excellent. She got goods. I know a lot of people wouldn’t have tried out,” she said.
But despite her defeat, Crystal brought hope. Before the show began, two women explained how.
“She just brought us all up,” said Robin Sopko, who carried a sign thanking Crystal for helping her out of her midlife crisis.
Her friend, Jennifer Couteure, added, “Her name should be Mama Sunshine.”
Two wheelchair-bound women, Debbie Taylor and Yolanda Calhoun, waited outside of the arena for hours before the presentation of the show began so they could find places from which to watch.
“She’s the best belly-acher I’ve ever heard!” said Calhoun, referring to Crystal’s singing style.
Lori Ortman is also optimistic.
“I think she’ll make it in the business anyway, so she’ll be OK,” she said.