Rono, Friend of Bono, Going to See U2

by Ron O. on July 16, 2015

I’m going to see U2 this Sunday at MSG, and I’m pretty friggin’ excited about it. The new album is great, their old stuff is great, and they always put on a great show. I’m not much of a gushing fanboy about anything, but I guess this is as close as it gets.

I met Bono when I was 11, back in 1984. I was already a big fan back then, when Sunday Bloody Sunday and New Year’s Day were all over MTV.  You remember, back when MTV played music videos?


My brother (left), Bono, and me

It was early in the spring of 1984, just months before The Unforgettable Fire was released.  My mom, brother and I were tagging along on a business trip with my dad, in Marco Island, Florida.  It was a beautiful resort, which is probably why we tagged along.  Dad would go to meetings and we would hit the beach, never fully appreciating how lucky we were to be there.

And so, one day we were just doing beach stuff, and there he was, a mulleted and speedoed Bono.  At 11, I did not find either of these things awkward – I was too awed by the fact that this rock star and I were sharing the same sand.

After the starstruckiness faded, and I bravely waded out into the ocean where Bono was minding his own business.  (My brother stayed on shore, because no one had a waterproof camera in 1984.)  My DeNiro level performance went something like this:

Young boy casually swims in the ocean towards a young man in a skimpy bathing suit.  Boy feigns a look of surprise and recognition.

Me: Hey, aren’t you Bono from U2?

Bono smiles, chuckles to himself, probably rolled his eyes a little

Bono: No, no.  Hey, aren’t you Eddie Van Halen?

Me: No…you’re Bono.

Bono: Yes, I am.

He must have shrugged it off, in that familiar way we see Bono handle his celebrity today.  As I recall, he was a bit sheepish about the whole thing.  It was clear he liked being recognized, but it was also pretty clear he wanted to not hang out with some random kid on his vacation.  It continued:

Me: Can I get your autograph when you come out of the water? (Yes, I was this blunt.)

Bono: Sure, but could you just [I can’t remember his exact words, but he very nicely asked me to leave him alone while he was in the ocean.]

The boy swims to shore and stands sentry, awaiting the celebrity’s return to land.  The boy realizes he has no shirt on, and anxiously wonders what this will mean for his photo op with Bono.

That explains why I’ve wrapped myself in a hotel towel in the picture above.

Bono was extremely gracious.  He signed an autograph (Bono, to Ronald), and asked if Ronald Reagan was my father.  I vaguely remember some political comment that went over my head.  This was my first ever experience with a celebrity, and it really couldn’t have gone better.  I was a fan before I met him, and have been since.

And yes, this is a lame attempt to see if someone in the U2 organization will see this post (keyword: U2), and pull that picture above and flash it on the screen on Sunday, July 19th.  After all it is the Innocence and Experience tour, and doesn’t that picture capture a certain innocence?  (U2 people – You have my absolute permission to use that image.)

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