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Sunday
Aug292004

Why I should avoid celebrities

Movies have taught me that meeting a celebrity is always very fulfilling -- unless it's some starlet with fake breasts. But if it's an author or some other creative type, you can count on walking away a better person. It usually goes like this: You get in line for the celebrity's autograph, and then you ask for some sort of advice when your turn comes. The celebrity then imparts some nugget of wisdom that changes your outlook on life or whatever problem you're having at the moment. Don't believe me? Watch "Mallrats" and you'll see.

It was with this in mind that I decided to get author David Sedaris' autograph a couple years ago. I dearly love Sedaris' writing, mostly because I find him as witty and interesting as I'd like to be. His books reminded me that I wanted to be a writer -- even though I still haven't gotten around to really writing much. So when I found out he was coming to Denver, I believe I actually may have squealed a little. At the show, Sedaris was as funny and entertaining in person as he was on paper, and apparently lots of people loved him as much as I did, because the auditorium was packed. At this Denver show, it didn't occur to me that Sedaris might be signing books afterward, so I didn't bring one along. Since we were an hour from home and I had to work the next morning, I didn't entirely want to wait in a long line, either.

But when Sedaris came to Colorado Springs a few months later, Rob and I came prepared. I brought the first book I'd ever read by him -- the one that got me hooked -- and I planned to wait as long as necessary to get his autograph. After the show, Rob and I got in line right away, and we really weren't that far from the table Sedaris was seated at. Believing I only had a few minutes to prepare, I spent some time pondering what I would say to the author once I got there. It was important to me that I find a way to show off my sense of humor, my wit and my intelligence within the first few seconds, so Sedaris would forever remember that charming girl he met in Colorado Springs.

Apparently all of the people in front of me in line had the same idea, because it took another hour before I made it to the table. Since my pondering had only lasted a minute or two, whatever plans I'd made were completely forgotten by the time my turn actually came. And I am oh-so-terrible at thinking on my feet, as the conversation illustrated:

Sedaris: Hi, how are you?
Me: Good.
Sedaris: Who should I make this out to?
Me: (completely forgetting about Rob) Heather.
Sedaris: So are you two here on a date?
Me: ...
Rob: ...
Me: ... (nervous giggle) ...
Me: Sort of.
Sedaris: (surely concluding that I was mentally handicapped) Well, here you go.
Me: (giggle) Thank you.

At this point, Sedaris must have decided to take pity on the retarded girl, because he asked me to do a quick favor for him. I agreed, even though I doubt I even had the mental capacity to say anything more than "Uh-huh" when I accepted the task. So at his request, I went to another table in the lobby and asked the person on hand how many copies of "An Obedient Father," by Akhil Sharma, were left. (Sedaris always recommends a book to the audience at the end of his readings, and this was his book of choice that night.) I happily reported back that all of the books had been sold, which seemed to please him. I'm sure he also was amazed that I'd finally managed to put together a complete sentence.

And so Rob and I wandered off, and I happily opened my book to read the inscription. It said, "To Heather, With pleasure, David Sedaris," and the "W" was drawn carefully in the shape of a dimpled ass.

Obviously, my meeting with David Sedaris didn't go exactly as I had planned. Sedaris never learned that I was an aspiring writer, that I consider him my hero, or that I have a pretty good sense of humor. And he didn't tell me his philosophy on life. I don't know that it matters, since my imagined conversation probably wouldn't have made me any less forgettable than the real one did.

I'm still debating whether I'll get another autograph next time Sedaris comes to Colorado. I'll undoubtedly look like an idiot again if I'm given an opportunity to make small talk, so maybe I'll just walk on by the autograph line and go home. I wouldn't want to give Sedaris a second chance to pity my lack of intelligence.

For now, I'll just have to be satisfied with the fact that the David Sedaris asked me to run and errand for him, and I was able to do it without tripping over my feet.

References (7)

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    Response: Austin basketball
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