Tag Archive | autograph

The Starstruck Idiot Strikes Again

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.

And I even read the book!!

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.

Hugh Laurie (aka the dream crusher) is the one sitting behind the passenger seat.

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.

The face that launched a thousand nightmares.

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.

I don’t know what living the dream FEELS like,
but this is what it LOOKS like.

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.

Take care,

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.

Meeting an American Legend

The year was 1989:  there was poofy hair and acid-wash denim as far as the eye could see.  I was a sophomore in high school, and just getting into the music scene.  I had never been to a concert before, but I had gotten my first real job that year, and for once, had a little extra money in my pocket to spend on weekend entertainment.

On the spur of the moment, a couple of friends and I decided to go see James Taylor in concert at the Jones Beach Amphitheater.  I wasn’t very familiar with his music, but figured that I knew enough of his greatest hits to make it worth the cost of the ticket.  We showed up to the box office a couple hours before the show, and managed to score floor seats for only $20 a piece…. that makes me sound older than a bag of dirt, doesn’t it?

When James started singing, something deep down inside of me seemed to resonate with the music; I felt like I had swallowed a tuning fork set to the same frequency as his guitar.  He didn’t whip me into a fanatical frenzy or make my heart flutter wildly inside my chest – just the opposite, really.

At a time in my life when I was riding an emotional roller coaster, James introduced an element of peacefulness into my tumultuous teenage world.  And while most girls my age were shrieking and swooning over Bon Jovi and New Kids on the Block, I was hopelessly hooked on a balding, middle-aged man with an acoustic guitar.

That concert was the first of many – I went on to see him a dozen times over the course of the next two decades.  Every time he came anywhere near New York, I bought tickets.

Just a handful of my concert tees – I call them Taylor couture.

In that time I went from being a greatest hits fan, to owning every album he ever produced.  My iPod looks like the James Taylor music directory.  And I can sing along to all of them…. much to the chagrin of my two kids.

This is less than half of the James Taylor albums on there – I need a bigger screen.

Looking back, there is one concert that stands out vividly among the rest:  June 22, 2008.  Why that one concert in particular?  Because I got the chance to meet him, face to face….. well, sort of.  I’ll explain in a minute.

How do you think you’d react if you got the chance to meet a movie star or musician that you’ve idolized for years?  There are several ways to go:

  1. Shriek loud enough to make dogs in the next town howl, then attempt to catapult yourself over security and into the waiting arms of your idol.  (*Warning:  they probably won’t catch you.)
  1. Sob while at the same time trying to form words that express how much you worship and adore them (this one’s never pretty because there’s a lot of snot, spit, and tears involved).
  1. Faint at the sight of them, and hope the person is still there when you regain consciousness.
  1. Stand there completely paralyzed, unable to form a single word without feeling like you’re going to trip over your own tongue.  There’s usually a lot of internal activity going on inside the star-struck idiot:  blushing, heart palpitations, profuse sweating, butterflies in your stomach, jitters that resemble the DTs, etc.
  1.  Stay cool, calm, and collected.  Tell them you think they are the cat’s pajamas, wink, and then casually amble away like John Wayne.  (Do cool people say the cat’s pajamas anymore?  *Spoiler alert:  I didn’t choose this option).

I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to meeting James, but I was about to find out.  He usually takes the time to sign autographs for a few fans during his concert.  But I didn’t want his autograph. I wanted to give him something to show my appreciation for all he had done for me; all the times I played his music and he had unknowingly sung me off a ledge, or crooned me out of wanting to strangle somebody  – this came in particularly handy during the twelve hours I was in labor with my firstborn.  I’m pretty sure playing James Taylor songs during those pain filled hours is what saved my husband’s life.

What gift could you possibly give that says all that?  (*Hint:  it wasn’t a pair of socks.)  It was a poem.  Don’t laugh.  I was going through a very sappy, Hallmark card period of my life back then.  I had gotten the idea to write him a poem that used his own song titles in a way that expressed my feelings of appreciation and gratitude.  I thought it was kind of clever…. and yes, also kind of corny.  Okay, REALLY corny.  And because I cherish my readers more than my own dignity, I’ll embarrass myself, and share it with you (the song titles are in italics):

James

Perfect strangers look to you
To Shed A Little Light
They turn their radios on,
Praying Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight

Your words of assurance
Helps guide them through just Another Day
Struggling to reach their goals,
You say it’s Enough To Be On Your Way

Your fans find comfort when you sing songs
Such as That’s Why I’m Here
They think How Sweet It Is to have found someone
Who can ease their darkest fear

To Mill Worker and Company Man alike,
You have sung your ode
You’ve shared with them the Secret O’ Life
And how to walk That Lonesome Road

And even in joyful times,
They love to see Your Smiling Face
When you sing Sunny Skies their Fire And Rain
Is gone without a trace

When at your concerts,
Your fans say Isn’t It Nice To Be Home Again
You Can Close Your Eyes and feel safe knowing
That somewhere You’ve Got A Friend

Okay, so I’m not Robert Frost.  Hell, I’m not even Robert Frost’s second cousin, once removed.  But I was kind of hoping that he would focus on the sentiment behind my pathetic lack of poetic talent.

I saw my window of opportunity open up right before the start of the second set.  A bunch of people rushed the stage and started begging him for his autograph.  This was the moment I had dreamed of for almost twenty years – I was going to meet James Taylor!!!  But rather than leaping to my feet and storming the stage like the other crazed fans, I sat frozen in my seat, grasping the laminated poem in my hands (yes, I had it laminated – it was an outdoor venue and in case it rained, I didn’t want it to get all wet and smeary.  Perfectly logical… and maybe slightly obsessive).

As the seconds ticked passed, I could see the window closing, but felt helpless to stop it.  Then my husband, Kevin, practically shoved me out of my seat, and reminded me that I would never be able to live with myself if I didn’t do it.  His threat of regret was enough to put my paralyzed limbs in motion.  I climbed over the 13 people in my row, and made my way to the stage, less than a hundred yards from where I stood.

Nervous doesn’t even BEGIN to describe how I was feeling.  My body kept vacillating between adrenaline rushes and nervous jitters.  My hair, which I had cemented into place with a can of hairspray, felt like it was melting beneath the sweaty steam rising off the top of my head.  I knew if another five minutes went by, I would look like I just stepped out of a sauna.

I didn’t really expect to make it passed security, but before I knew it I was standing up against the stage, a mere two feet away from him.  As he signed autographs, I just stared at him, completely star struck.  I tried to commit every detail to memory – I noted that he has really defined forearms.  Must be all that guitar strumming.  But I digress….

When he approached me, I handed him the (lovingly laminated) poem and stared at him, totally mute.  He looked at me like I just sprouted an orange tree out of my ear, and asked him if he’d like a glass of freshly squeezed juice.  I guess because everyone was handing him t-shirts and ticket stubs to sign, he had no idea what the hell I was giving him.  Finally my tongue unknotted itself, and I tried to offer him an explanation.  I said, “It’s for you.”

IT’S FOR YOU?!  I’ve had entire conversations with this man in my head since high school, and when I finally got the opportunity to do so IN REAL LIFE  I could only manage to squeak out three little words!  He took it, didn’t say a word, and went on to sign other autographs.  I don’t know if he didn’t hear me, or if he was just trying to back away from the scary stalker lady, but as the physical distance between us grew, I felt my window of opportunity slam shut.

As I stood there, stunned that I had let my golden opportunity slip through my clammy fingers, he circled back around to where I was standing.  I held out my ticket stub (mostly because I didn’t know what else to do).  He took it, quickly scribbled something, and gave it back.  I think he was hoping this would finally encourage me to exit, stage right.

I think his fear of sweaty stalkers made his hand shake too much to write legibly.
I’ve seen his normal signature, and this ain’t it.

Not exactly the picturesque moment I envisioned.  Clearly I’m incapable of acting like John Wayne under pressure.  But given the option between star-struck idiot and crazy Belieber-like fan, I think I took the high road…. or at least the road that didn’t involve me leaking bodily fluids all over my idol, screaming, or passing out.

Have any of you ever met anyone famous?  If so, did you make as much of an ass out of yourself as I did?  Please say yes….

 

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