I don’t have much experience interacting with famous people. The few times it’s happened I feel like Chris Farley interviewing Paul McCartney.
Chris Farley: Remember when you were with the Beatles?
Paul McCartney (laughing): Sure. Sure.
Chris Farley: That was awesome. (Long awkward pause.)
I was living in Utah when Salt Lake had the Olympics, and I didn’t know how to act when Michelle Kwan turned up in the same store that my roommates and I were shopping in. We heard people all around us talking about it. “Michelle Kwan is in here with her mom!”
I never did actually see her. I was too busy trying to play it cool, hoping nobody else would notice my hands shaking and heart racing. As if my roommates and I shopped in the same store with Michelle Kwan all the time. No big deal. Shoulder shrug.
What I really wanted to do was run through the store looking for her. I wanted to tell her how amazing I thought she was. How she represented my childhood obsession with ice skating. How I had talked my little brother into using yarn to tie sheets of paper to our feet. In true olympic spirit, we slid around the carpeted living room in our own beautiful routines.
Not so cute when you’re 19 years old and trying to translate that same childlike enthusiasm into something intelligent. Something memorable that will convey to this celebrity just how much they mean to you.
And then there are authors. This group is a completely different animal. We don’t usually fall in love with them. Instead we fall in love with their characters. Characters they’ve created. So it’s a bizarre thing to come face to face with an author I admire. Pieces of their heart and soul sit on my bookshelves at home. They are a meaningful part of my life experience. I don’t trust myself to have a normal reaction.
A few years ago I not so subtley suggested to my husband some books I really needed for Christmas. Among the list were a few from Brandon Sanderson. My husband hadn’t yet discovered him and was struggling to remember his name.
“Crystal, what was that one author you like so much? Brandon Branderson?”
Each time he called him the wrong name I’d get indignant. “Sanderson. Honestly.”
Which, of course, only encouraged him. By the time Christmas rolled around my new favorite author was being referred to as, Your Boyfriend Brandon Branderson. This title still makes me chuckle.
But here’s the problem with authors having a place in our home that they know nothing about. I have this fear that someday I will be in the right area for one of Brandon Sanderson’s book signings and actually meet him face to face. And just like with Michelle Kwan, I will probably try to play it all cool.
Until I call him the wrong name.
Then he will smile politely back at me, but inside we both know that I’ve just annoyed him. It’ll be all over his face. My name is right there on the front of that book you’re holding, Moron.
Or even worse than offending him…that I’ll feel the need to explain why I called him the wrong name. There’s no way that story wouldn’t come off like Annie Wilkes from Misery.
“I’m your number one fan.” Creepy smile.