Crystal Bowersox, A Juice Bar And Why She May Still Quit 'American Idol'

Our Bigger Than the Sound writer met quite a few Crystals during his juice-bar days.

Long before the parking-lot incident, the Seacrest intervention and reported texted accusations of betrayal, I already kind of knew that Crystal Bowersox wanted out of "American Idol."

This had nothing to do with any conversations I've had with her, tips from "inside sources," her stunning performance of "People Get Ready" on Tuesday night or anything else that could generally be considered reliable (because I don't have anything like that to back me up) and everything to do with the fact that I once worked at a hippie-dippy juice bar in Altamonte Springs, Florida, that has since closed down and is now a Firehouse Subs. I know from experience, dude.

See, during my time at said juice bar — it was called "Nectars," btw — I worked with no less than a dozen girls exactly like Crystal Bowersox. They all played the acoustic guitar. They all wore those velvety blouses. They all hung dream catchers from the rearview mirrors of their cars. Most of them had dreadlocks. They were drawn to the place because, like them, it was real earthy, with vegan sandwiches and wheatgrass shots and hummus and lots and lots of bean sprouts. Like, we put bean sprouts in everything. It was the kind of place where a group of dudes would hollow out apples, disappear into the walk-in refrigerator for 10 minutes, emerge all glassy eyed and would then have to take a break from manning the sandwich press (a lot of them remind me of Jason Castro, actually). It was a pretty awesome job, now that I think of it.

Anyway, aside from all the crunchy trappings, all these girls had something else in common: They were all really good at their jobs (probably because they worked with a bunch of dudes whose sole talent seemed to be making smoking devices out of fruit), which meant that, inevitably, they would outshine everyone else and get promoted to manager. And that's where the real problems would start.

See, they never wanted any of the duties that came with the position of manager. Overnight, they went from working the register and making the occasional echinacea-laced smoothie to having to run the entire shop. They had to make schedules. Had to beg the stoned dudes in back to do food prep (and no one ever wants to do food prep). They couldn't even make their own custom juices any more, because now the owner was watching their every move. Suddenly, this cushy, laid-back job they had gotten through a friend (because all of them got the job through a friend) had become a full-time gig, one with actual responsibilities. And responsibilities are a bummer. So, inevitably, all of them would quit. It wasn't worth it anymore.

And so that's why I knew Crystal Bowersox wanted to quit "American Idol." She entered the competition almost on a whim — hey, this seems like it would be fun! — but then, thanks to her talents, she rose above the field and somehow became the front-runner. Without even knowing it, she has become the manager. Having to film those Ford commercials is her schedule-making. Doing the group sing-alongs is like begging the rest of the crew to cut a few extra boxes of broccoli. Bringing out a didgeridoo for her version of "Come Together" was sort of her last-ditch attempt at making one of her custom juices, only the judges totally called her out on it this time. "Idol" has become a full-time job for her. So it was no surprise to me that she thought about quitting. After all, it sort of seemed like the only logical thing to do.

And, yes, I'm aware that this entire column is one long generalization, but writing about "Idol" usually requires that sort of thing (here's a column last year in which I compared Adam Lambert to Barack Obama). The beauty of this show is that, if you think about it long enough, you'll realize you know someone exactly like each of the contestants. It's sort of why we keep them around every week. I just so happen to know at least a dozen girls like Bowersox, which is why nothing she does really shocks me. I just hope she doesn't freak out and flip off the audience, like this one gal I worked with did when she quit (only it was the customers, but you know what I'm saying). Though, come to think of it, that wouldn't surprise me, either. And, ultimately, Bowersox's future on "Idol" isn't really that big of a deal. Because if she does decide to walk away from the show, I'm confident she could have a lucrative career in the juice-bar business. I know from experience, dude.

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