I am as awkward around famous people as I am around people people. Even the clunkiness of that sentence captures my general social clunkiness.
It is entirely likely that anyone within reading distance of this blog has him or herself met more famous people (and more-famous people) than I have. A well-balanced person treats the waiter like a prince and talks with royalty like they’re the next-door neighbors; I am well-balanced, but not in a good way: I treat everyone like they are a teacher who has announced a pop quiz that I have not studied for.
In the past, I had a terrible relationship with success; my lack of it and some of my friends having success in their fields. I wrote a while back:
Most of the time, for most if not all of my friends, success has come as a response to hard work. I have friends who are enjoying careers in the performing arts, and once upon a time, whenever I saw the face of a friend or acquaintance I knew on the television or movie screen, I was guaranteed a difficult week of moping. Correction: Anyone in my vicinity was guaranteed a difficult week of me moping. I did not spend a happy week or so of feeling and expressing pride in my friends’ achievements. As I wrote, sometimes I have been a jerk.
I was jealous of my friends’ success/hard work and saw their success as an indictment of my lack of success, which was really a lack of hard work.
This will sound like a humblebrag, but I am genuinely happy now when I see a friend’s name on a TV show or movie. (At least four friends are in three different films that are on Netflix right now. I suppose my writing that, in parentheses no less, is the real humblebrag.)
Plus, many of my friends are mothers and fathers and have raised children who are now college age, and every single one of these young people is remarkable and will contribute noteworthy things to the world, whether or not World War III starts this week. I am no one’s father, yet, and this used to bother me, too. (Only recently have I added that “yet” to this sentence. It is an important word in my life right now, even if World War III is looming, which it isn’t.)
So last night, out of the blue, the songwriter/actor/friend of Kermit the Frog/President of ASCAP/recovery advocate Paul Williams sent me a congratulatory message on Instagram. It was only four or five words long, but who’s counting? Wait right there … It was six. I just re-counted.
Social media has made it more possible for people to have encounters with the famous among us; many celebrities and politicians personally run their online fan clubs. Many do not. This has not made these encounters any less attention-grabbing for me when they do happen. (Three of my all-time favorite writers followed my Twitter account, two of them within a week of each other; I was a six-foot-tall cliché of self-importance that week. Two of them have since “unfollowed” me. I was a six-foot-tall cliché of crushed.)
If you have not seen Stephen Kessler’s excellent documentary “Paul Williams Still Alive” from 2012, you ought to. It’s still on Netflix. (I suppose I can more correctly humblebrag now that five extremely close personal friends are in four enormously successful films currently on Netflix.)
The WordPress Daily Prompt for November 24 asks, “You get to plan a dinner party for 4-8 of your favorite writers/artists/musicians/other notable figures, whether dead or alive. Who do you seat next to whom in order to inspire the most fun evening?”
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