Working for a major media organization has its privileges. For starters, a ceaseless stream of famous and fabulous people parade past my cubicle on a daily basis. Some of them even ask me where the bathroom is located. Those are the special days.
Earlier this month, I shared a soap dispenser with Regina Spektor. Yesterday, I casually thumbed through a newspaper while craning my neck to cast a sidelong glance at Brian Eno. And I’ll never forget the infamous silently-eating-sushi-while-gawking-at Neil Gaiman episode.
But having the opportunity to meet your heroes — as I am gradually coming to understand — is not always pleasant. In fact, it’s usually ultra-awkward.
Whenever I catch a glimpse of one of my musical / artistic / literary heroes, my basic impulse is the same: I wanted to look them squarely in the eye and say, “You inspire me. I dig your work. Thanks.”
Simple enough, in theory. But crafting The Perfect Moment to say the words without coming across as what you really are — an obsessed fangirl on the brink of a total mental meltdown — is trickier than it seems.
You want The Moment to be relaxed and informal, yet meaningful and memorable. The Moment has to be quick and expeditious — your hero has places to go, people to see! Ideally, The Moment includes a witty quip or two that sends your hero into ringing peals of laughter.
The Moment? It never comes. Maybe it doesn’t really exist. Maybe it’s impossible to convey everything your hero means to you — how her music makes you feel like it’s possible to fall in love again … how his compositions renewed your faith in the human race … how his writing helped you escape the dreariest winter of your life — in the span of 30 seconds. Maybe those feelings are better left unspoken.
Or maybe you’re just an awkward troglodyte with the social skills of a peat bog.