I’ve crossed paths with several famous people in my lifetime. Each encounter was different, of course, but they all had one thing in common: I always walked away ever-so-slightly disappointed.
Part of that is due to my own expectations, I’m sure. If you watch a person enough, you feel like you know them. So when you talk to them and they don’t act as if they know you, it feels weird. What’s your problem? We hang out every Thursday night! Oh… that’s right. You’re on TV.
And it’s always a mild shock when someone’s public persona does not match their private one. But of course, it wouldn’t, would it? I’m sure you have to hold parts of yourself back for sanity’s sake.
Even in those encounters I’ve had in which the person was very gracious and kind, I’ve gotten the sense that they wanted to hurry me along, and get it over with. I’m sure I’d feel the same way, if I were in their shoes. But I’m in the shoes of someone who is meeting a personal hero for the first time, so I don’t want to be shuffled out of the way, politely or otherwise.
But let’s face it. Everything I say, they’ve probably heard a million times before. And there’s this unremitting wave of people coming at them. That’s got to be exhausting, and a bit scary.
I think it’s probably better not to meet your heroes. But if given the opportunity, I don’t see how I could resist taking it. Because, I mean, maybe one time there will be this connection. We could be pen pals. Yeah! Not.
Some of the famous people I’ve met with varying levels of success: Jacques Cousteau, Arlo Guthrie, Hillary Clinton, Rick Steves, Glynn Washington, David Sedaris, Tom Cruise, and one of the Harlem Globe Trotters (and he was rude as hell, so I won’t name him.)