If you are lucky enough to meet your personal Rock Star, how do you succeed in making an impression on them? (And by Rock Star, I mean the famous or abnormally successful person whom the very thought of transforms you from a rational human being into a fan, groupie, or even a crazed–and potentially dangerous–stalker.)
This is something I can’t answer.
In late May, David Sedaris—my personal Rock Star—did a reading and signing at our Barnes and Noble—the one just four miles from our home. Normally a five-foot six-inch tall, middle-aged gay man who speaks in a slightly pitchy voice wouldn’t get me excited. But for David, I waited an hour-and-a-half in the morning to get tickets for the signing and another hour-and-a-half later that afternoon guarding my spot for the reading.
When you look at the facts, David’s not glamorous at all. From the stories in David’s books, I know that most of his original teeth have rotted away. That when he was a kid he used to hit himself over the head with his shoe. And per the essay David wrote in the June 3 issue of The New Yorker, his plumbing isn’t up to par these days either. “Yes, the washer on my penis has worn out, leaving me to dribble urine long after I’ve zipped my trousers back up,” he says.
Short and crazy with bad teeth–and leaks pee. Not what I normally consider attractive features. But in David, they seem cute and sweet and endearing. This is how it works with personal Rock Stars. You idolize something about them so much, that you forgive their shortcomings.
This was the third time I’d gone to see David. The first two readings required purchasing tickets and one of those events required driving two hours each way from Maine to Boston. Not only was totally worth the effort to see David all three times, but if I ever have another opportunity to hear David read again, I’ll do it again.
I racked my brain as I waited in the signing line. I really wanted to say something clever so David would remember me. Maybe I could make him laugh. Then he’d invite me to visit him and his partner Hugh at their home in the English countryside. Or maybe he’d volunteer to read some of my work and share it with his editor.
“Are you sure ? I wouldn’t want to impose,” I’d say.
Instead, I went blank. What could I possibly say that would be amusing to David Sedaris?
David asked me how old I was and when I said 49, he said 49 wasn’t old, but that 56 was—and that he was 56. I stood there silently, staring, wishing something clever would come out of my mouth.
“You’re supposed to say, ‘You don’t look it,’” he said, sketching an owl and his name into the inside front cover of his new book, Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. Guess I blew that one.
Then my 60-seconds with my rock star were over.
I went away happy with my encounter with David, who took my lack of social grace in stride. He’s probably used to inarticulate fans. No, David was great. What disappointed me was my own ability to be clever and poised under pressure.
So much for making an impression on my Rock Star. Perhaps I’ll do better the next time I see David…