I have had bad luck with meeting celebrities. One of two things happen. I go all Lucille Ball on them and become a blithering mess and embarrass myself. Or, I shut down like a human clam and say nothing and stare at them in awed silence.
Last night when I met David Sedairs, the latter occurred and I became a mute. After his show in Rancho Mirage, I grabbed a spot in the book signing line while my sister Jackie bought our books. Jackie went first and David talked to her like an old friend admiring her shawl and talking with her about her experience with teenagers as a Special Ed teacher. Jackie told him her students loved the audio book of "Catcher in the Rye" read by J.D. Salinger himself. "That exists?" David said in a sweet whisper as he brought out a little notebook and wrote something down.
Jackie introduced me in the only way she knows how, "This is my twin." David smiled and I choked. Words caught in my throat.
I didn't tell David how hard his stories made me laugh or that I started writing memoir after reading one of his books. I also didn't tell him that I describe my memoir as the book that would result if David Sedaris and Judy Blume had a book baby. I didn't make him chuckle or even notice me.
When signing his book for me ("holidays on ice"), David took out a marker and started drawing a candy cane in red. I mumbled "candy cane...Santa land", an admittedly confusing reference to his famous story called the SantaLand Diaries which details his experiences working as a Christmas elf at Macy's. David paid me no mind.
About five years ago, I met another of my idols, George Stephanopoulos, at a corporate law event. That time, I drank too much and tried too hard and freaked him out by telling him we had coffee together every Sunday morning. I thought it was funny because "This Week" comes on at 8 a.m. every Sunday. From the look on his face in our picture together and the fact that he is pulling away from me, he must have thought I was his celebrity stalker. Which is a ridiculous assumption because if I was gonna stalk anyone, it would be Morrissey (who is number one on my must meet list).
Something similar happened with Mr. T at a party in Vegas in the 1990's. When I saw Mr. T, I started jumping up and down clapping my hands singing "There's Mr. T".
To me, Mr. T is a 1980's icon. As a child, I loved watching "The A Team" and Mr. T is in my favorite episode of Different Strokes.
To show my appreciation, I followed Mr. T around the party repeating, "I pity the fool" which I am sure he had heard before but cut me a break, it was an all you can drink of premium liquor kind of party. I took picture after picture with Mr. T and after a while, he suggested in a gentle voice that I stop pestering him. I stumbled back to Adrian who was looking on in horror and rubbing his temples.
And, due to my top shelf drunkenness (in those days my favored drink was a B52 on the rocks, a sweet mix of Grand Marnier, Vodka and Bailey's), I lost my camera with all of my pictures of myself and Mr. T.
Which is worse: embarrassing yourself in a memorable manner or not saying anything at all?
I no longer drink so maybe what shut me up with David Sedaris was the lack of my magic elixir. I suppose I will have to get used to it and get some real balls.
And if I ever meet another of my writing heroes, I plan on telling them just how much they move me in no uncertain terms. I am a writer too after all.