I once got the chance to meet one of my idols, James Taylor. I wrote about the experience in this blog entry which you probably didn’t read…. and despite the link I just provided, you probably still won’t read it. But it’s a blog rule that I have to at least provide you with the link, both to prove how techno-savvy I am and also to pretend like you give a shit. Hey, I don’t make the rules, I just follow them. Although if you ever find yourself in an embarrassing situation and think, “no one has EVER made a bigger ass out of themselves than I just did” then you might want to go back and read the entry. It will give you solace to know that someone else experienced abject humiliation and lived to tell the tale. Anyway, moving on….
I recently got another chance to meet a celebrity I adore, Hugh Laurie. I wrote about my love of all things House, M.D. in this blog entry – again, just following the blog rules. But unless you are following Hugh Laurie’s career as closely as I am (and you’d basically have to set up shop inside the man’s ass to accomplish that feat), you probably don’t know that he has taken a temporary leave of absence from acting and begun a new career as a professional blues musician. He just launched his new album called Let Them Talk. I’ll admit that you could fit what I know about blues music onto B.B. King’s pinky finger, so my music review doesn’t count for much – but I loved the album.
My husband, being the loving and indulgent man that he is, saw an opportunity to make his wife happy on her birthday and bought me tickets to see Hugh Laurie play in concert. In the few weeks I spent waiting for the concert’s arrival date, I thought about what I should do to prepare, so that on the off-chance I got to meet him I would be ready. Please save all eye-rolling and forehead slapping until the end…..
I bought his book The Gun Seller so that I would have something for him to autograph – I wasn’t about to show up with a House t-shirt and sharpie marker like some pathetic groupie. I wanted to show that I recognized him as a true renaissance man – actor, author, and musician. Plus, I figured that I could sell the autographed copy of his book for a buttload of money and pay off my credit card debt. That’s me – appreciative AND pragmatic.
I also decided to write him a letter extolling his many virtues and thanking him for his awesomeness – how’s THAT for ego? I actually believed that not only would he take the time to read it, but that he would also give a rat’s ass what I thought of him. But the letter wasn’t just to show my appreciation, it was also my insurance policy against the starstruck idiot residing in my head. After making a monosyllabic moron of myself when I met James Taylor, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to string a coherent sentence together should Hugh Laurie and I come face-to-face. So, here’s what I wrote on the envelope…..
I thought it was cute and clever, and I hoped it would make up for the fact that all I could do was stare and grin at him in wide-eyed adoration when I handed it to him. It was only later that I realized my bold, all-capitals handwriting may have made me look like a crazed stalker. Live and learn.
When the concert ended (the show was amazing, by the way), my husband and I waited for Hugh to come out for a little meet-and-greet with some of his fans. After about a half-hour, the security guards started to usher people out of the concert hall. I quickly changed my message on the envelope and tossed it onto the stage by Hugh’s piano bench. I hoped that one of the roadies would take pity on me and hand deliver my letter to him. Here’s what the new message said….
Now I sounded like a crazed stalker who they had to physically escort out of the building. Awesome.
We were on our way back to the car when we spotted a group of people gathered around the back alley to the concert hall. Revived with the hope that I still had a chance to meet him, I decided to join the throng of fans and wait to see if he would come out. With The Gun Seller in one hand, and a carefully chosen pen in the other, I waited. And waited…. and waited…. and waited. An hour and a half. Well, if I was going to be perceived as a crazed stalker, I might as well act the part.
There were only fifteen or twenty fans left at this point. I reasoned that our chances of him coming out grew better with each fan that deserted because now he wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time signing autographs for a million people. Sounds logical, right? He didn’t seem to share my logic because when he finally exited the building, he headed straight into a twelve passenger van with his band, and drove away.
I wanted to hate him, I really did. But being the avid fan I am, I couldn’t manage to stay mad for long. After about ten minutes of bitching and brooding, I started to rationalize his quick escape. I thought that he probably had another gig in the morning and had to get on the road…. or he had to get home to his heartsick wife and kids…. or he suffered a painful blow to the head backstage and temporarily forgot that he had adoring fans patiently waiting for him outside.
But more than likely he was just trying to get some physical distance between himself and the crazed stalker that wrote him this letter…..
September 11, 2012
Dear Mr. Laurie –
First off, let me thank you for thoroughly entertaining me for the last eight years on House. I will miss seeing your scruffy mug on my television set every Monday night at 8:00. The Fox network has now put Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen in that timeslot – which leaves me with nothing to watch because quite frankly, that guy scares the hell out of me. He’s like the culinary world’s answer to the boogey man.
But I digress…
I thought once you had retired from House, you would go back to England and live out the rest of your days sitting high atop some grassy knoll, sipping tea and eating scones. Never having been to England myself, I’m sort of assuming that’s what British people like to do in their spare time. But much to my surprise, you went in an entirely different direction…. though there still might be scones involved somehow. Hard to say.
When the TV cameras turned off, you chased after your dream of becoming a professional musician. I watched a handful of the TV interviews you did after you launched your album – it’s obvious to me how passionate you are about the music. I don’t know if you feel the same way when you’re acting, directing or writing (do you ever sleep?), but I can tell that playing blues music lights you up on the inside. When you play, you look like you are exactly where you want to be.
There are two things that happen when you do something you’re passionate about: First, you get to enjoy an intoxicating mix of adrenaline, joy and excitement that can’t be found anywhere else…. at least not without the help of pharmaceuticals. And second, you put your heart and guts on display for the world to see – kind of like going through that full-body scan at the airport, times a million. I think it was extremely brave of you to expose that part of yourself to the masses and take the giant leap of faith required to do what you love rather than what may be expected of you.
When most people reach 50-something (I hope you’re one of those “age is just a number” people, otherwise, sorry for bringing it up) they stop taking risks, stick close to the path they’ve carved out for themselves (good or bad) and lay past dreams to rest. They resign themselves to the thought that if it hasn’t happen yet, it’s never going to happen. So, when I saw someone turn that line of thinking on its ear, I was enormously inspired. Suddenly, it all seemed possible.
It didn’t matter that 40 was breathing down my neck or that I had about as much chance of seeing my dream come to fruition as I had of becoming the next Miss America – which given my repulsion towards swimwear, tiaras and dreams of world peace, seems unlikely. (Okay, maybe I’m not really repulsed by world peace, just by pageant contestants that can’t seem to come up with anything better to talk about.) You showed me that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
So, I muzzled the pessimistic voices in my head that delighted in reminding me about my dismal odds of success and pathetic lack of qualifications, and put my dream of becoming a writer into action. I was scared as hell before I started my blog – even more scared than I am of Gordon Ramsay, which is really saying something. What if people hated my writing and I never became an author? Or what if I disappeared among the millions of other blogs out there? I knew it was as easy to get lost in the blogosphere as it was on the streets of Manhattan – easier for me because my sense of direction is total crap.
But I reasoned that if a white guy from England could sing the blues (and kick some serious ass doing it!), then perhaps a housewife from the suburbs could write. So, a blog was born….
I don’t know if anything will ever come out of it, but it feels amazing to be doing rather than just dreaming. Thank you so much for being such an inspiration, and for showing me that taking a leap of faith isn’t as scary as it seems. I wish you much success in following this dream and any others that may spring up during your adventures off the beaten path.
Linda (inserted last name here)
P.S. – While I appreciate you making the trek onto Long Island and saving me the hassle of a 45-minute train ride into Manhattan to see you perform, you may want to investigate the very real possibility that your agent is smoking crack – isn’t he/she aware of the commuter hell involved in getting on and off this godforsaken island on September 11th?! If they book you for a concert in Pamplona during the running of the bulls, I’d fire their ass.