As I’ve mentioned (I know, I know, ad nauseum, suck it up), I work in a theater. So you’d think I’d be really, really cool around actors and other famous people, right?
If you answered “right” to this you a., haven’t been reading this very long, and b., don’t know me very well. I am a spaz. A complete and total spaz. Around normal people, I’m just your everyday, basic spaz, which people can explain away with “she’s kooky” or “aw, Amy” in a patronizing tone; around real life famous people OMG FAMOUS PEOPLE!!! I turn into Spaz Extraordinaire.
I haven’t met a lot of famous people in person. Which is probably a good thing, because it is embarrassing. I’m better off sticking to Twitter, where you can talk to (and sometimes get responses from, as long as you’re not a crazy attention-seeking lunatic) famous people and still retain a facade of cool aloofness. I was discussing this with a friend last night and told her that once I blogged about how I completely self-destruct around famous people, she would no longer invite me to come with her on our hypothetical quest to meet Joss Whedon. Here you go, Amanda…I won’t be too hurt if my invitation gets lost in the mail.
Chance encounters that weren’t too bad:
When I started working at my theater, four people who worked on the first play I’d seen when I moved to town were involved with the show I was working on. I was so daunted by them I was afraid to talk to them, other than mono-syllabic “yes”’s and “no”’s, for a very long time. (I’m fairly sure if they knew this they’d laugh now, since I’ve known them for years and they’re just the loveliest people and not at all scary.) Spaz Quotient – 5 (because community theater people aren’t even CELEBRITIES, really!)
I met Lynn Redgrave after a play she’d acted in when I was doing a semester abroad in London. This was not too embarrassing because I wasn’t aware she was a famous person. I thought, “Isn’t it nice that the Weight Watchers spokeswoman got a role in a play!” So I didn’t spaz out. She was very gracious and shook my hand when I told her I’d enjoyed the play. (I didn’t. There was a horse onstage and I found it very distracting. I kept thinking it was either going to bolt or poo and therefore couldn’t pay attention to what was happening in the story because I was waiting for one of those two things to occur.) Spaz Quotient (on a scale of 1-10) – 2 (because I didn’t know she was a famous person, which is embarrassing in itself.)
I went to New York City with some friends while in college. One of them saw Buster Poindexter (Hot, Hot, Hot? No? Also known as David Johansen? Anyone? The song was popular then. Yes, yes, I know. I’m old) in a restaurant eating and wanted to go in and talk to him. He was summarily kicked out of the restaurant by Buster Poindexter’s goons. Yes, Buster Poindexter, at the height of his popularity, had toughs with him. I don’t know either. Spaz Quotient – 1 (I had nothing to do with this. I was embarrassed anyone wanted to meet Buster Poindexter.)
Also in New York City, while walking with a friend, he said, “Don’t look now, but there’s Ted Levine.” “Who?” I said. “Ted Levine. Jame Gumb. From Silence of the Lambs.” In my haste to see the real life person who said “It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again,” one of my favorite movie lines EVER, I almost knocked over three people on the sidewalk. For my pains, I saw a man’s back receding from us. He was wearing jeans and a hoodie. This could have been anyone. But it was very exciting nonetheless. Spaz Quotient – 4 (would be higher had I actually gotten to speak to him)
I went to college with two people who have since become “famous.” I put this in quotes because it’s not true. One of them was an extra on Contest Searchlight, which was a comedy show making fun of Project Greenlight years ago that starred Denis Leary. I saw him in a crowd scene. It was very exciting. In real life he was a bit of a tool, I guess, according to people who knew him. I always liked him well enough personally. The other one is even more fantastically “famous” as he was one of the “dates” on the episode “Whatta Manhunt” on the short-lived Salt-N-Pepa Show. This was disheartening, because I know he’s an actor, so it ruined my true and honest belief that Pepa was looking for a real date as the dates were actually actors. Also, he was a very nice, very sweet, very earnest boy, and it made me sad that the best he seemed to be able to do was “Bachelor #2” on “Whatta Manhunt.” Spaz Quotient – nonexistent (however, embarrassment quotient for “Bachelor #2” is kind of high.)
I have met and had books signed by two authors I admire – David Eggers and Russell Banks – and both times when I got to the signing table I stuttered out something like “I like you good books nice.” This, I think, makes them think I am possibly dyslexic, and isn’t it brave that I keep trying to read! Spaz Quotient – 6 (if I’d stayed longer, it would have been higher.)
Also, I went to a David Sedaris reading once, and afterwards, he was outside smoking, and I stood there watching him and was SO DESPERATE to go and talk to him but was too afraid, because he’s notoriously shy and I adore him so much I was afraid my love would kill him. So eventually he just walked away with the friend he’d been talking to. I’ve been sad about that ever since. Spaz Quotient – 4 (because I was a chickenshit)
I mentioned this in the past, but when I worked at the video store in grad school, Everett McGill used to rent videos from us. I didn’t spaz out on him because I was only aware of his work in The People Under the Stairs. So I was actually really quite cool with him, and he always waited patiently to be in my line, because my co-workers would act like weirdos if they waited on him and he was very taciturn and that seemed to freak him out. I have since seen him in a few things and I think I’d spaz out more now. Also, once, there was a mattress sale in the parking lot of the video store and he and his wife bounced on the mattresses in an adorable and gleeful manner. So there is a celebrity story for you. Breaking news, TMZ. Spaz Quotient – 1 (because I was unaware he was a famous person other than in ‘The People Under the Stairs’)
I went to a film festival and Kevin Bacon did a talk after a movie. I was sitting on the aisle and had my legs kind of stretched out more than I should have (stop it, I wasn’t being a dick, if anyone was coming, I would have pulled them in.) Someone said excuse me and I moved them and this very short, very thin man walked by. Yep, Kevin Bacon. Who is MINISCULE. But polite! +1, Kevin Bacon. And now you can all use me in your “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game. Oh, it only counts if I’ve ACTED with Kevin Bacon? I disagree. I think you can say, for example, “Sarah Jessica Parker was in Footloose with Kevin Bacon and Amy was in A THEATER with Kevin Bacon” and that totally counts. Spaz Quotient – nonexistent (because I didn’t have enough time to react)
But here, here is my most embarrassing moment. A quick preface: I have a short list of people I’d like to meet; people I admire a great deal, whose work has made a huge impact on me and my life. A few new people get added here and there, but the three main, core people are Stephen King, Kevin Smith, and Joss Whedon. Their work has affected me more than anyone else’s; they are the people I’d like to meet and thank for giving me what they have over the years.
If you think these people suck, or are not fans, fine. I don’t care. You probably have your own short list. I won’t judge yours if you don’t judge mine. These are my people; I don’t need to explain or apologize for them.
A few years ago, two friends and I went to the Woodstock Film Festival to see an advanced screening of Zack and Miri Make a Porno. The Woodstock Film Festival is awesome – not too far from me, lots of excellent indie films, some bigger-budget ones, famous people come and give talks about films and filmmaking and acting, and it’s all-around a really happy and stress-free experience (especially for me, who hates crowds and people and hype.) We knew Kevin Smith was in town, because he won the Woodstock Maverick Award that weekend, and was in town to accept it. Sometimes, after the movies, an actor or director will come and do a question-and-answer session, but not always, and it hadn’t been announced, so we weren’t sure if he would be there. So we watched the movie. (Side note – right before it started, one of the snooty film snobs who comes to these things, who I have no idea why was there, said, “I hope this isn’t too VULGAR” and I almost spit-took my water because listen, lady, this isn’t a two-hour silent film about glassblowing, it’s a KEVIN SMITH MOVIE.) When it was done, the lights came up, and nothing happened, and we waited a bit. And I had butterflies, because I thought, maybe? Maybe Kevin Smith? And then, yes, Kevin Smith. I was in the same room as Kevin Smith, who has been one of my idols since I watched Clerks as a disaffected moody college student and realized “People are making movies? That are about me and my friends? THIS IS AMAZING.” When it was over, we left, and realized that Kevin Smith was standing RIGHT THERE IN THE PARKING LOT HAVING A CIGARETTE. I froze like a raccoon caught stealing from a trash can. See, most of you are reading this and thinking, “So what? I wait outside of concerts for people I like ALL THE TIME” but I never, never have the courage to do that. Also, I AM A SPAZ.
Friend’s boyfriend: We have to talk to him.
Me: No. Too afraid. Can’t.
FB: You are going to hate yourself if you don’t.
Me: SO SCARED.
FB: Seriously. He wouldn’t have come out if he didn’t want to say hi to his fans.
Me: I AM GOING TO BE A SPAZ.
FB: Well, um, yeah, probably. You are Amy. That hasn’t changed in the past ten minutes.
Me: TOO SCARED. IT IS KEVIN SMITH. TOO SCARED.
My friend agreed with me – she’s with me on the “it’s kind of embarrassing to be up in celebrities’ faces” thing – but her boyfriend? The bravest. He started walking over there. And I couldn’t let him go alone. I had to go. I mean, I had to go, right? I would hate myself, right? This would be David Sedaris but to the power of A MILLION.
So we were standing in front of Kevin Smith, who had complained at the Q&A that he had food poisoning. No one else, apparently, had noticed him. We were all alone with Kevin Smith.
FB: This is Amy. She’s really nervous to meet you.
Kevin Smith: Oh, because I might projectile vomit all over you?
Me: NobecauseIreallyadmireyouyou’reoneofmyidols. (All in one breath. Like a crazy person with asthma.)
KS: Thank you, that’s so nice! (Shook my hand. SHOOK MY HAND. I KNOW! Which I totally didn’t lick afterwards because that would be gross and he had food poisoning but I might have joked about doing so and also thought about not washing it.)
Me: This is my friend! She ALSO likes you!
Then he shook her hand and laughed a little at my weirdness, in a “I think she might be sizing my skin up to wear it as a cape” sort of way.
FB: Could you sign this? (Kevin Smith signed his program.) Congratulations on the Maverick Award last night!
KS: Yeah, thanks, that was cool.
And now, here is where I use WITTY WORDPLAY. On KEVIN SMITH. Ready? I don’t know if you can handle it.
Me: You’re a maverick, just like Sarah Palin.
In my defense, this was back in what, 2008? When she had just debated and said she was a maverick 43 kabillion times. And I did say this sarcastically. But I think in my haste to say words out of my mouth it came out like “Blah blah LOONEY PERSON WITH CRAZY EYES blah.”
KS: I am JUST LIKE Sarah Palin, you’re right.
Then we all laughed. My friend’s laughter was normal; Kevin Smith’s was a person who had to deal with a crazy; mine sounded like that person you change cars to get away from on the subway who smells like feet.
KS: OK, I have to get going – really not feeling well. Nice to meet you all, though.
Me: I hope you feel better!
KS: Thank you! (He said this VERY NICELY.)
Then he left. And he WAVED TO US AS HIS CAR DROVE HIM AWAY. No, seriously.
OK, what have we learned, here?
I am a GOON and a SPAZ.
Kevin Smith is really the nicest. See? I choose GOOD people to idolize. I have since seen him live again and he was wonderful then, too.
I should not be allowed out in public where there are people because I am EMBARRASSING.
Also, Friend’s Boyfriend gave me the signed program as a birthday present a week later, cementing him as a keeper in my book.
Spaz Quotient – 9 (I suppose things always could be worse, like I could have tripped and fallen on him or something)