Brushes With Fame

I am a giddy schoolgirl when it comes to celebrities. I don’t care what they’re famous for: I am the same blithering idiot whether it’s Snooki or Madeleine Albright. When I am in close proximity to them, I get a little stupid. So you can imagine how difficult it was for me to resist the urge to wake B up last night at 3AM, when during Miss C’s midnight feed, I found this on my Twitter:

I have arrived.

I have no idea how or why he found me on Twitter (although I have a feeling it has something to do with this post), but LeVar Burton – of Roots, Star Trek: TNG, and (most importantly) Reading Rainbow fame – is now following me.

I am dumbstruck.

Before I even knew what a fan was, I was a fan of LeVar Burton. There was an episode of Reading Rainbow where he’s exploring Chinatown in NYC and he goes to a restaurant where the chef prepares Mongolian beef for him tableside. After seeing this, one of my favorite games was to play pretend Chinese restaurant in our backyard. I’d pull up monkey grass and mushrooms, mix them with water from the spigot, and serve them up in a Frisbee to my then-baby brother. Got your homemade Mongolian beef right here. I was four.

When I was teaching English in Korea, I taught from a series of American reading books and occasionally there were stories I hadn’t even thought of since I saw them on Reading Rainbow when I was super little. But whenever I taught them I would get so excited that the kids would notice and ask me why I was geeking-out over an Arthur story. I would then explain that it was on a show I watched when I was a kid, and the students would henceforth be bewildered that I was ever a child.

So yeah, LeVar Burton’s follow means a heck of a big deal to me.

I’ve had a few brushes with fame in my life. The first one that comes to mind is the time I met Billy Corgan at a book signing. I’m actually quite amazed that I haven’t yet devoted an entire post to my hardcore adoration of the Smashing Pumpkins when I was a teenager. I was an absolute, balls-to-the-walls, do-or-die superfan. And I loved Billy Corgan.

LOVED LOVED LOVED.

During college I grew out of my obsession to a certain degree, which I suppose was a good thing because I needed to start paying attention to reality a little bit and stop fantasizing about how I was going to somehow meet and marry Billy Corgan and have his awkward bald-headed children. I had been in Chicago for graduate school for about a month when I remembered that that was where he lived. I googled him and it turned out that he was doing a book signing at Borders that very evening. I was so there.

I went downtown to the Water Tower and took the escalator to the forth floor of the Borders where he would sign copies of his new book of poetry. I sat in line for hours. Even though this was when he was in-between Zwan and the “reuniting” of the Pumpkins, there was already a line three hours ahead of time before the signing. Billy Corgan fans are a devoted bunch, even with his more lackluster projects.

He finally arrived and I got my book signed. Just like that. It was pretty much one of the most anticlimactic moments of my early-adulthood. He was nice, I guess, but I don’t have any inspirational stories to tell as testament to his wondrousness as a human being or anything. He was just a guy, promoting his book, smiling at the fans, which is what almost anyone would do if they were in his position. The whole ordeal made me finally realize that celebrities are just people too. They drink water and breathe air and have crappy days just like everyone else. They just sign books and ride around in tour buses too.

I was also around famous people when I was an extra in Walk the Line. In both of the scenes I’m in, both Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix were on-set and performing. The first time each of them came out, I was a little awe-struck. There they were, pretending to be someone else.

And they were at work. It was their job to pretend to be someone else. That was what floored me. Don’t get me wrong, they were both good at pretending. Heck, Reese Witherspoon even won an Oscar for her performance. But what killed me was that for some reason, they were both born with a certain amount of talent, charm, or some other magical element, that made them rise above everyone else, get famous and then be adored and admired by people they will never even know. It’s just bizarre when you think about how the very nature of fame dictates that the famous person can’t possibly know all the people who give him or her that distinction.

When you do come into contact with famous people, it makes you remember that they’re just humans, plugging along just like the rest of us. In-between the tweeting, signing books, and making movies, they’re sleeping, eating, bathing, worrying, and living life. Every-so-often, they reach out like LeVar did to me and help you remember that they’re real and not just an image on a screen or a voice on a track. Pulling back that screen a little makes the world a bit smaller and safer.

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52 comments

  1. Very cool that LeVar is following you.
    I’ve met some celebrities over the years, and for the most part, just treated them like regular people.
    Sometimes it’s nice meeting them and finding out they;re cool, nice people.

    1. It is nice. I once worked at a restaurant inside a hotel and on one of the few days out of the year that we were closed, Jerry Springer came in to eat. The hotel staff said he was surprisingly nice and that you would have never guessed that he ran a freak show.

  2. But I bet he doesn’t straddle cars in tight clothing like Tawny Kitaen who follows me. Then again, I bet his tweets all have perfect spelling which is more than I can say for Ms. Kitaen.

    1. Well, you have to sacrifice some things, like good spelling, to look awesome in a bikini. Some days I think I’d trade one for the other.

  3. Fish Out of Water · · Reply

    We used to have basketball coach Chuck Daly’s former phone number. I got all sorts of calls from newspapers all the time looking for Chuck Daly. I had no clue who that was until one of the reporters said, “lady you have no idea how famous your phone number is”. When Chuck Daly died, Mitch Albom called my house to offer his condolences to the family, obviously not aware this wasn’t the Daly’s number anymore. I couldn’t believe it. I spoke to Mitch Albom. I told him I loved his books, this was no longer the Daly’s phone number, and I was sorry for his loss. I’m not sure what order I said those things in, but let’s hope I offered my condolences before I told him I loved his books.

    1. That is too funny! How awesome that Mitch Albom called your house, albeit not to necessarily talk with you! Once my MIL called Shelby Foote (he wrote the definitive book about the Civil War) to ask him to sign a copy of his book for a friend. His number was listed in the phone book! Still can’t believe it.

  4. They’re perhaps even more human than we are… I think their insecurities are much greater and their self-esteem issues more magnified. They have very fragile egos and are extremely needy. I think they feel most at home when they are “pretending” to be someone other than themselves. Michael Jackson, for instance, said he always felt safest when he was performing. That’s very typical. It’s because they often don’t know who they really are at their core and it makes them uncomfortable. Being someone else even for a short while gives relief. Sure, there are some healthier individuals but for the most part their psychological profile is not so attractive.

    1. Y’know, I have thought the same thing. It must be so strange to make mistakes in the public eye. I would personally be mortified, but I guess some people just crave that kind of attention and just need it to get through life.

  5. That is so cool, Emily! Now the pressure’s on to always come up with some interesting and entertaining tweets! I bet it’s humbling to know LeVar is reading what you write.

    1. I know! I feel like I’ve gotta start crowdsourcing my tweeting material because my constant updates on how many times the baby spat up on me in a given day suddenly don’t seem so riveting!

  6. I should copy & paste my same comment for every one of your blogs. I LOVE the way you think & I LOVE the way you write !

    1. Awww, thanks. I love having you as my cheerleader :)

  7. Very cool!

  8. That is so exciting! Now I have the Reading Rainbow song in my head.

    1. Have you seen the skit where Jimmy Fallon sings the RR theme as Jim Morrison from the Doors? It is seriously one of the funniest things I have seen all year!

      1. How have I not seen that? Going to YouTube right now!

  9. Wow! Lavar Burton! He was also in the “Word Up!” video by Cameo! I’m seriously impressed by and happy for you.

    You were an extra in Walk the Line? Can you be spotted?

    1. What???? I need to YouTube that one!

      I CAN be spotted in the movie! A couple of times, even! I wrote about it a whiles back and included a link to the video and where I am in it:

      http://epa82.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/you-wouldnt-call-me-versatile-if-you-saw-me-do-math/

  10. High five, Besfrinn, high five!!

  11. That’s pretty rad! I love Smashing Pumpkins too! My brother was into Zwan, but I lost interest after SP was over. I’ve met a handful of famous people in my life. I was really young when I met most of them. It wasn’t really worth it. I could see how Billy Corgan was cool. Musicians seem awesome. But actors, eh.

    1. The Smashing Pumpkins are awesome. I saw them (ie, Billy Corgan and a bunch of other musicians) when I lived in Seoul, and it was just as awesome as I remembered it when I saw them last in 1998 when they were touring with Adore.

  12. Twitter certainly brings some of them down a notch or two when you see that they can’t spell! That’s cool about Levar. And funny to think he may have read your post! Very exciting, I don’t know how you didn’t “accidentally” wake B up and blame it on Miss C.

    1. Amen about the spelling! I guess it just goes to show that when you start blogging, the world becomes a far smaller place and just about anyone may stumble across your writing.

  13. Celebrities drink *water*?! Well, maybe I’ll believe distilled, or with the fancy gas bubbles.

    1. And by water, we mean gin.

      1. It all makes sense now.

        1. Yea, I have to keep it rated G.

  14. NO EFFING WAY LEVAR BURTON follows you on twitter. NO WAY!

    1. It’s true!!!! And it’s not even an alternate universe! I know, I’ve checked :)

  15. I’m a fan of LeVar for his epic role (and eye wear) on Star Trek: The Next Generation. So what’s better? Having LeVar follow you on Twitter or getting Freshly Pressed? ;)

    1. Ooooh, that’s a very good question! Can I have both? ;)

      1. You already do! Well done! :)

  16. I know exactly what you mean, when the blogess started following me I freaked out. I still think maybe it is a mistake.

    1. WHAAAAAT? That is amazing. I was just thinking the other day that if she followed me I’d probably never tweet again just because I’d have too much stagefright.

      1. That is exactly what I think. I check often to see if she has unfollowed me. OMG what is she reads my blog????

  17. I would be way too nervous to ever tweet again.
    I really don’t think I’ve ever met anyone too famous? I’m clearly in a bubble over here.

    1. I know. The bar has been raised on the quality of my tweets!

  18. That’s awesome! I think I would be nervous to tweet again, too.

    1. Thanks! Luckily I’m too self-involved to give up tweeting for too long :)

  19. clownonfire · · Reply

    Emily,
    First, congrats on the interaction on your blog. That’s awesome, and I’m really happy for you, as it’s totally deserved.

    I’ve heard that Levar Burton is a fantastic human being, and a really nice person. That’s pretty cool. A few months back, I had written a post about John Lurie (from The Lounge Lizard and early Jim Jarmush movies). The day after, I received a personal email from him, and we’ve been friends since then. How fucking awesome it is when mega stardom is also a class act!
    Le Clown

    1. That is so cool! My husband is a big fan of Jim Jarmush so I told him about your comment and he was impressed that John Lurie had taken the time to thank you and that a friendship has blossomed between you. I have to admit that I get excited myself whenever you comment over here because you’re a bit of a WordPress icon yourself ;)

      1. clownonfire · · Reply

        Emily,
        That’s very nice of you to say. As for John Lurie, he’s a class act, and a great artist. Tell your hubby the man’s amazing!
        Le Clown

  20. Do you watch Community at all? Second season had a Lavar Burton moment. I won’t go into detail because you either saw it or you wouldn’t care. Either way, that’s pretty awesome.

    Does Billy Corgan’s voice get really whiny then turn into a whisper when he speaks too?

    1. I just YouTubed it. Pretty funny! I love when celebrities can make light of themselves like that. I really like Community, but I’m still unclear on whether or not it was cancelled. Side note: the guy who plays Abed goes to the BFF’s church in Pasadena. She always sees him in line to take communion.

  21. You have officially made it. Now, however, nonstop witty and intelligent banter will be expected of you on Twitter. Such is the life of celebrities…

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

    1. Haha so true! I spent my morning trying to compose zippy tweets about my email getting hacked from France (which really happened.) It was harder than I thought it would be.

  22. dkingneece · · Reply

    Last night Delroy Lindo was swimming laps next to my aqua aerobics class at the YMCA. That was pretty cool (and bizarre).

    1. What?! That is so awesome! One time my mom was eating by herself at a hotel restaurant and Bob Dylan’s mom was at the table next to her. She said it was bizarre too, especially when she invited her to join her group.

  23. Sir Mix-a-lot tweeted me shortly after I joined twitter, and I almost crapped my pants. Having Mr. Reading Rainbow follow you is SO AWESOME :D

  24. […] appearance on Arthur once. He is pretty much a perfect man, and I would like to welcome him to the elite club of PBS personalities who have been worn down by my constant tweety stalkage and finally threw me a bone. Love you, Ming! […]

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