‘Are you sure this is legal?’: a memorable encounter with Gaga

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Yan Zhu ’12 asked Lady Gaga to sign her MIT ID card when Gaga visited the MIT Museum on Wednesday June 30. Gaga spent a couple minutes signing autographs for fans on her departure at approximately 3 p.m.
Greg Steinbrecher—The Tech

The expression of toughened boredom on the police officer’s face said quite clearly, “Lady Gaga does not want a 12-person serving of Caesar salad.”

As if on cue, an MIT Museum employee appeared in the slim hallway and briskly escorted ten MIT students, with me still gripping an uneaten tray of salad, from the museum into the thick sludge of fans congealing in an alleyway outside MITERS. Despite inviting a dozen students, myself included, to a focus group and regaling us with free pizza and salad on the morning of Gaga’s photo shoot, Polaroid asked us to stay out of the museum until after Lady Gaga walked out wearing half of the 8.022 lecture demonstrations (or so I imagined).

The leftover salad, which we’d tried to “deliver” to Lady Gaga in case she needed sustenance to get through the long, hard task of being photographed while sitting in a chair, was dubbed “Lady Gaga’s Rejected Salad” and abandoned to the fame-hungry masses.

It was 12:30 p.m. We had invitations to a Polaroid press conference in two hours and projects waiting to be UROPed in air-conditioned labs, but for now, the feverish heat of the crowd was as viral as a YouTube parody of a music video by...never mind.

We stuck around, cultivating incipient sunburns and staring into a parking lot while trying to ignore the terrifying implications of having voluntarily waited two hours to get a glimpse of the right hand of someone whose stage name seems derived from the lexicon of 2-month-olds. At one point, one of Gaga’s chauffeurs suddenly walked away from his car and toward the back entrance to the museum, drawing eyeballs toward him like dipoles in a magnetic field as the crowd hushed in anticipation of a clicking doorknob, plausibly followed by a woman clad in diamonds, gyroscopes, and razor blades.

Fans stood tense, poised on the cusp of high-pitched shrieks, as he lifted the lid of a dumpster bin and anticlimactically tossed away an empty container of ice cream. Lady Gaga, apparently, would not make her exit through the dumpster. Instead, at around 3 p.m., she stepped into a nondescript black car from a museum doorway originally designed for use by normal, less-famous humans.

As she rolled out of the parking lot accompanied by choruses of love proclamations and screams of ecstasy by those who had just achieved life fulfillment, I snapped tabloid-quality pictures of the back of her head through a tinted car window before I discovered that I could run to the other side of her vehicle without getting arrested.

From there, the logical next step was to bullet toward her face like a homing beacon. As it turns out, weaving through throngs of hysterical Lady Gaga fans is much, much easier than trying to get to class in 6-120 through the Infinite while a tourist group is taking pictures of Course III students in that lab with the glass walls. Suddenly, I was closer to Lady Gaga than I had ever been. She was autographing everything that anyone put in front of her unrolled window. I checked my pockets. I had a camera (which was black), a cell phone (which was also black), a debit card (which was too cluttered with numbers), a Charlie Card (which would have been less valuable signed than a plain sheet of paper), and an MIT ID.

Without thinking too hard, I thrust the ID into Lady Gaga’s manicured fingers and said, “Lady Gaga! Will you sign my MIT ID?” Lady Gaga asked in a voice lazily dripping with boredom and limousines and private yachts, “Are you sure this is legal?”

“No,” I replied.

She then scrawled something illegible on my ID that should have said “Lady Gaga” but might just as well have been “Lime Grog.” Friends congratulated me on my luck for the rest of the week. Some of them were even jealous enough to turn the color of lime grog.