LAS VEGAS — I did it. I didn't make it, but at least I did it. I tried out for "The Voice."
Had I known that three hours into my 17-hour round trip drive, I would lose my air conditioning, and had I known the only autograph I would give out would be to a prostitute, and had I known I would not make the show, I still would have gone.
Why? Because at the end of the day, I would rather ask myself, "Why did I do that?" than "Why didn't I?"
And, that was probably the best lesson that a whole lot of us learned on June 8. Like thousands of us. And there are still thousands more.
Many of us on that Saturday were bedazzled up and glammed to the nines. Others wore sweat stains the size of basketballs and looked like they rolled out of bed. A few tried to combine the two looks.
The real adventure, however, began Friday, June 7.
I was up at the crack of dawn, singing "Desperado" again.
Undoubtedly, my neighbors will be ecstatic to never hear "Desperado" ever again since I have been rehearsing from morning to night, every day, since May 10.
On May 10, "The Voice," one of the most popular singing talent television shows, sent me an email.
I had signed up for their emails a while back after watching an episode of the show, in which four judges pick their teams of singers based only on the singers' voices.
The judges have their backs turned, and a singer gets on stage to perform. If a judge turns around during a singer's performance, that singer has a chance to be on that judge's team. If none of the judges turn around, the singer does not make it any further on the show.
But before you even get to audition for the judges on television, you have an audition for an audition for an audition.
In the email, the show made the announcement that they were holding the pre-pre-pre-auditions in upcoming months, the first of which were in Las Vegas.
I was going.
For weeks, I believed I might, just might, be the "next big thing" -- one of the most fun parts of the process.
I agonized over who I would choose if both Blake Shelton and Adam Lambert wanted me on their team.
I practiced, practiced, practiced. Even if I didn't make it, I wanted to do it right.
Last Friday, I was ready. I rolled out of town with the windows down, singing at the top of my lungs and feeling great.
Three hours in, my air conditioning went out. No, I do not want to talk about it. It sucked.
When I got into Las Vegas, which was hitting record-breaking temperatures, I had a sunburn just from the drive and sweat dripping into my eyes.
I had to wait a while before my Minnesota aunts arrived at the airport, so, to cool off, I found a patch of shade at a hotel near the airport and parked my hot, hot, hot car.
Some guy stopped to see if the red-faced chick sitting in the car singing the same pair of songs over and over ("Cups" from "Pitch Perfect" and "Desperado" by the Eagles) was OK.
I told him I was fine and was just practicing for an audition.
He claimed to be a millionaire who had three years to live and was just finding people to give money to if they needed it. In fact, he had his neighbor, whom he was helping out, with him, and she said she would love to hear me sing and would love an autograph.
Maybe it was just me, but I am pretty sure they were not neighbors. Pretty sure she was a prostitute, but you kind of start making that assumption about a lot of the people in Las Vegas.
"Move your hips and use your hands more," she said while smoking a cigarette and watching me sing. "Yeah, yeah, good."
Honestly, she had some sound advice, and he dished out $20 just for my two songs.
Who was I to deny music to two seemingly down-and-out people? Maybe they were neighbors. I was going to assume so since I did not know what to think of the $20.
I finally picked up my aunts, and we had an early night so I could conquer my early morning.
Seven in the morning came soon enough.
I dolled myself up and grabbed a bag of fruit snacks, pretzels and mixed nuts. I was so prepared. In fact, someone asked if I was a mom or something.
I'm not, but when did strawberry gummies ever fail you in your most trying times? Never. In fact, I started handing them out to people who forgot to eat breakfast.
All of us auditioning waited for hours, all sizing each other up.
Slowly, though, they began to break us down into the hundreds, and then eventually into dozens. In the end, they had us in groups of 10.
Our group formed a singing circle, and I have never absorbed so much talent in so little time.
Seriously, I felt better about not making it after hearing everyone sing. I might as well have been seated next to Sara Bareilles, Carrie Underwood and Whitney Houston.
Then they called us 10 into the hallway, where groups were lined up at separate doors, all looking petrified that the door would open at any moment.
At the end of the hallway, we lined up at our own door. The former cop from Connecticut who I had befriended boosted up her boobs, the professional dancer from New York started doing toe-touches, and I just waited.
The door opened, and in we went, where we sat down in more chairs until they called our names, one at a time.
I was No. 7.
I did well, but I didn't make it. I sang, I smiled, I made eye contact, I moved my hips and hands and I didn't forget the words -- my ultimate fear.
In the end, though, only one of us made it through to the next round of pre-auditions. Mercedes was her name, and hot damn! I hope she makes it.
Just among the 10 of us, we were from New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arkansas, Florida, New York, California and Connecticut.
Mercedes was a California girl with voice for the world. She had umph and sass and big, honkin' ... smile and laugh. Watch for her.
The rest of us, we still walked out with smiles and mainly the pride that we had tried something that a lot of people are too scared to do.
Did we have a $16 slushy rum-mango cocktail after and lounge in the pool to help ourselves cope with the fact that we never would have the choice between Blake Shelton and Adam Lambert? Well, I did.
Still, I will never forget the experience, and I am glad I did it. I encourage everyone to do something they never thought they would do or could do, but maybe always wanted to do.
It's worth it. Even if the only person that wants your autograph is a prostitute and the only reward you get is the memory.