Saturday, July 12, 2014

How To Meet A Celebrity...

...without being self-conscious.

Again, I am writing about something that I really know so much about.


Although, I have met a few "celebrities" over the years. Some of them were just celebrities in their own minds. Or to their own "elite" group of groupies. But, no matter. A celebrity is a celebrity, no matter the size of his fanbase.

What really qualifies me to speak on this subject is the fact that I met Captain Satellite when I was about 4 and 1/2 years old. Now -- don't be rolling your eyes. Stay with me here.

Do any of you remember Captain Satellite? He had a kids' show when I was a very little girl. I adored his show and I adored him. And, one fine day, he made an appearance at our local McDonald's. My dad found out about it and brought me to meet him. I was SO excited! I had never been so excited in my whole and entire 4 and 1/2 years of life. And when I got to the front of the line, there were a couple of things that were painfully obvious. First -- he didn't look like he did on TV. He had on no make-up and his hair wasn't styled and he wasn't in his "uniform" and he wasn't handsome AT ALL. In fact, he was fairly homely. Isn't that mean? I'm sorry to be mean, but it's true. And it frightened me. Second -- it was quite clear that he was NOT AT ALL comfortable meeting all these little kids. He didn't know what to do or say. There was no script and no director. Now, of course, at 4 and 1/2 years old, I didn't have any concept of scripts or directors; but, I could tell that he was at a total loss as to how to behave. And this made me feel quite bad, really. I didn't know how to take it. Was it me he didn't like, or was he just some sort of poser? I wasn't quite sure. All I know is that I never felt quite the same way about Captain Satellite or his TV show again.

Being the kind of little kid I was, it took me several weeks to process this whole experience. I have never been the type to be able to let go of traumatic experiences easily. I need to sort them out in my head first. And I came to the conclusion -- even at my very young age -- that there must be some sort of very vast difference between a fictional character and the person who plays him. I somehow understood -- even at that very young age -- that an actor (or any other famous person) is just a person, after all. And you shouldn't expect any more from him than you would expect from any other human being on the face of the planet.

As the years went by, my little hypothesis about actors and other celebrities was pretty much confirmed -- at least in my mind. I have met some well-known speakers. I have met some Blue Angels and other "hot-shot" military types. When I worked at a credit union, I met a few cops and firefighters who could -- basically -- cause the whole loan department (which was composed entirely of females, excepting one lone male) to swoon in their cubicles. And I have met some "creative types" here in California. Some of these people have been very friendly and outgoing -- the kind of people who have the gift of putting others at ease and making conversation. But, some have not. And those who have not haven't been bad people; they have just been kind of shy and awkward themselves. Okay, once in a while, there has been an snot in the crowd. An ego. Somebody who doesn't want to have anything to do with anybody, except for the gal who is 36-24-36 with long legs and a thigh gap. There are those kinds of people. And you shouldn't really give a shit if you run into one of those. Their problem is their own. Don't let them make you feel bad. But usually, the "celebrity" who is not good at "meeting and greeting" is just a person who does not have an outgoing personality. This can -- admittedly -- be very hard on fans. But, not a whole lot can be done about it. A lot of slack needs to be cut all-around.

I think about it this way. I was involved in music as a young person, as were my sisters. My youngest sister was also heavily involved in drama. She participated in much theater as a teen. Therefore, I was exposed to a lot of "drama kids" when I was a teenager and young adult. And it is these "drama kids" who grow up -- if they are extremely driven and hard-working and a little bit lucky -- to be the Hollywood celebrities we see around us. And even though they might be rich and famous, they are still the "drama kids". And do you know what "drama kids" are like? I'll tell you (while trying not to over-generalize). They are a little bit quirky. A tad eccentric. They live their lives "off the beaten path". Some of them are outgoing, but a lot of them are rather introverted. This doesn't mean they don't like people. They do. And they absolutely adore a good "after-party". But, they tend to be most comfortable with their besties and other "drama kids". They are not entirely comfortable having to interact one-on-one with a vast crowd of strangers. Or even one stranger. They have these wonderful imaginations, which allow them to do the work that they do. But, this often means that they live a lot of their life "in their heads", if you will. So, they can be a bit shy -- especially among people they don't know -- because they haven't necessarily spent a great deal of time developing the kinds of social skills that would make them immensely popular and great with strangers. Yes, they can get up in front of a crowd and put on an amazing performance. They can love and play to the reactions of an audience. During a performance, though, an actor is exercising his creativity -- playing a character, being that character. This is a completely different thing than having to actually interact with somebody on a personal level. These are two completely different skill sets. So, somebody who can give the impression -- onstage or onscreen -- of being friendly and outgoing and demonstrative can really be quite the opposite in real life.

So, I guess the point that I am trying to make with all this gibber-gabber is that these people everyone gets so intimidated by are just the "drama kids" you remember from high school or college. Really. Okay -- so, maybe they're the "cream of the crop", and they have been professionally waxed and highlighted and tweezed and exercised to flawless perfection by a team of experts. But, they're still the "drama kids". And without their team of experts, they'd probably look at least fairly regular after a month, or so.  Therefore, if you get to meet one, don't be all intimidated. They are no better than you. They are just human beings. Often human beings who are a little bit shy, and perhaps even anxious because of all the judging they are subjected to in our society. Therefore, try to put your celebrity at ease. Try not to hyperventilate. Just smile and extend your hand and express your admiration/gratitude for their work politely and in a calm voice. Then, use your best judgment as to how long to linger and whether or not to ask for a selfie. Maybe treat it like a dance, and let the celebrity take the lead. But, for heaven's sake, don't feel like you're meeting some kind of god. Because you're not. It's just that drama kid who used to day-dream his way through geometry class. And then worked his freakin' ass off after high school chasing the dream. God bless him.

P.S. -- When I say "him", I also mean "her". But, I hate doing the him/her thing and most of my readers are female and get more intimidated by male celebrities. ;-)

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