When Beyoncé smiled at Susan Monaghan, as the singer lingered in the hallway at a New York hotel the night before the Grammys, a sudden feeling came over the Shrewsbury resident’s body.
“I swear,” Monaghan said, “I felt like I was hugged by an angel.”
She also went into shock — and a picture of her reaction shows it.
Beyoncé posted a series of photographs from the big event this week to her official Instagram account. One picture showed Monaghan, her mouth agape, eyes bulging, as Beyoncé and her husband, Jay-Z, pass through the Sheraton New York Times Square hotel, holding hands.
The image has since gone viral, garnering more than 4 million “likes” on the Grammy Award-winning singer’s account, and a slew of reactions from fans who said they can relate to Monaghan’s look of complete and utter astonishment in the presence of Queen Bey.
“I think it’s hysterical,” Monaghan said during a telephone interview about the picture. “Strange things happen to me.”
Monaghan said she was in New York City with her family last weekend for her granddaughter’s gymnastics competition and to celebrate the birthday of her daughter, Jenn Hiitt. It was pure coincidence that the family was staying in a hotel where celebrities were gathering for a weekend of events related to the annual music award ceremony.
Monaghan’s run-in with the influential power couple began like this, she said: After returning to the hotel from dinner in the city, she decided to take the elevator up to her room on the eighth floor while some of her relatives stayed in the lobby.
When Monaghan exited the elevator, she started to make her way down the hallway. Suddenly, an entourage of security guards and photographers came waltzing towards her. She stood to the side — there wasn’t much room to go anywhere, she said — as they approached. It was then that a “handsome” gentleman looked at the slightly-out-of-place Monaghan and said, “’You look familiar,’” she recalled, ‘”Do I know you?’”
That dapper individual turned out to be rapper Jay-Z, who was up for several awards that weekend — though at first, Monaghan couldn’t place him.
“I’m thinking in my mind, ‘Who is this?’ And I looked at him and he looked tall, and thin, and had curly hair, and was really good-looking,” she said. “And I’m thinking.”
Then, when she looked to her right, she spotted an elegant woman with radiant beauty: It was Beyoncé.
“I was like ‘Oh, my God!’” Monaghan said. “I looked at her and all I could think was, ‘No one is going to believe me. No one is going to believe me.’”
She even started saying it out loud.
That’s when the singer flashed her a smile that said, “Don’t worry, it’s going to be OK,” according to Monaghan.
“It was so calming and so surreal,” she said. “And then I realized, and I turned back, I was talking to Jay-Z. It was really funny.”
As the group left, Monaghan went back to her room before she headed back downstairs to tell her daughter, Hiitt, and granddaughter about what happened.
At first, they didn’t believe her, said Hiitt. But then the next day, while at the gymnastics competition, Hiitt got a text that Monaghan’s picture was circulating online.
“We started dying laughing,” Hiitt said. “And she’s like, ‘I told you I met them!’”
With the Grammys long over, Monaghan has had some time to process the whole incident.
When asked why she thinks Beyoncé included the picture of Monaghan’s shocked face in the background among those posted to social media, she came to this conclusion: “I think she posted it for me,” she said. “So people would believe me.”
(Scroll to the fourth image in the slideshow above.)Steve Annear can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.