Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Brushes with fame... or, how I embarrass myself around moderately famous people.


(This was written last week, except for the end part)

When I was 8 years old, I had the most brushes with fame in the shortest amount of time.

The first, was Jonathan Richman. He was appearing at the Tower Records in Boston, where he was unveiling his star on their "Walk of Fame" type dealie. My step-father was a big fan of his, and his music accompanied us through many scenic weekend drives. I was excited to meet him, but not in any 8 year old capacity. My stepfather kept asking me, "What are you going to say to him?" I didn't know, of course. He prompted me, saying, "Do you want me to tell him how much you like 'I'm A Little Dinosaur?'." Even then, I didn't understand. What would it matter to Jonathan that an eight year old enjoyed his music? What could be said that he hadn't already heard? I thought the concept was altogether pretty foolish.

We met him, I got his autograph, as well as Ellie Marshall's. I recall my stepfather saying to him, "Alison wants to know what Kookenhaken is.", and I was very angry. Jonathan explicitly states in his song 'My Little Kookenhaken' that Kookenhaken is a made up word which has no meaning. I was very upset, and convinced Jonathan Richman now thought I was an idiot.

A short time later, we were walking down the street in Boston and passed a man wearing strange clothing. I didn't think anything of it, but my stepfather started yelling to me, "Alison!! Did you see that man?! That was Steven Tyler!" This was years before I got into Aerosmith-- I had responded with, "Who?"

Around the same time, I also took part in a bike ride around the Charles River with Joe Kennedy. I remember him as nothing more then a very nice man with a big smile, good sense of humor, and wild curly hair. That, and I could ride my one-speed bike faster then he could ride his bicycle-built-for-two. I passed him several times.

These events all have one thing in common-- I was unfazed by the "celebrity" status of these people. The way I feel about "stars" still rings true fifteen years later-- only now that I'm older, it comes across much differently. Now I'm just regarded as the shy and awkward fan who doesn't know what to say.

Which is true, to a point. I'm not a very good small talker, and I'm terrible when it comes to meeting new people. It's difficult for me just to start a conversation with anyone, but I hate going up to people and saying things like, "I enjoyed [insert album here]" or "you were great on [such and such program]." They know they were great. They know I like them-- that's why I'm here. And moreover, they hear this same thing, day in and day out, from thousands of other people.

I met Sharon and Bram (of Sharon, Lois and Bram's Elephant Show) last year. I had the time of my life, and ended up holed up in their trailer to escape from a freak rain shower, singing folk songs while Bram played the guitar. Again, however, conversation was difficult in most respects. I met them again this year, along with Lois (who had always been my favorite as a child) and found myself backing off just to give them some peace as they were bombarded by fans who simply couldn't seem to cram enough words into a sentence.

At one point, Lois had come up to me and asked, "Aren't you with [another group of fans]?" since I wasn't sitting near them. I had responded yes, but they talk too much. She laughed and said she had to agree with me.

What brought all this reflection on? Well, this weekend, I am going to NYC with a friend to see the founding members of Rockapella. As usual, I am unbelievably excited--but I'm nervous, too. I can see the whole cycle repeating itself. I've been shooting emails back and forth with Sean Altman for a short time, and he has informed me that there will be a meet and greet at the bar.

(This part is written today, 7/27)

The show was last night, and it was amazing. It was held in a ridiculously small club (The Cutting Room) where we all packed in like sardines. My friend and I had very good seats, & I was able to get some awesome pictures and video of the event. I am sure that they were not prepared for such a large turnout, and I shouldn't have really been worried about figuring out what to say to them-- I only had about one minute with Sean, Barry and Elliot respectively. I was able to get away without feeling too much like an idiot, and I got photographs and and autographs-- exactly what I had come for.

So, my quest goes on. I still have Raffi, Bill Nye, Tim Noah and LeVar Burton left to meet. Oh, and that unpaid internship at Sesame Workshop that I'll eventually attempt once I can scrounge up the money to live in New Jersey or New York for a (did I mention it was UNPAID?!) summer.

Oh, and speaking of Sesame Workshop... there was a very frightening Elmo walking around Times Square yesterday, and I snuck up next to him, instructing my friend to take a picture. Elmo turned, posed with me, and after the picture was taken said in a thick Mexican accent, "One dollar for picture, one dollar."

I pretended to rifle through my purse digging for a dollar, and then took off when he was distracted by a child wanting a photograph.

Pretty damn sure Joan Ganz Cooney would NOT approve of this.

1 comment:

DaisyBelle said...

LOL...you won't believe it, but when I first met Sharon, Lois and Bram I was rather shy and quiet myself. But like you, I was also surrounded by a large and boisterous bunch of people at the time.

Apparently, I have outgrown this trait. (OK, so I talk too much...but you and Lois both knew that already!) :0)