In which I take awkward, brutally honest treks through the freaky world of fandom as I know, love and fear it.
I saw Martin Short walking down the street the other day. He was just chilling, strolling along briskly in a smart suit all by his lonesome, looking like he had somewhere to go. My heart rate increased. Just like that.
Now, respectfully to the man and his fans, I couldn’t give two shits about Martin Short. He is not a celebrity, or ‘known person’ that is ever on my radar. Those are just the facts about me and Martin Short. Other facts would probably include his not giving two shits about me either (the problem of his ignorance of my existence aside from that brief mutual glance comes into play here).
But when I saw him, my heart sped way the fuck up and I actually mouthed his name at him as he passed me. We looked one another in the eyes. He didn’t spare a reaction to my recognition of him, or the fact that I silently uttered “Martin Short” at him as if he’d forgotten his own name. He just walked on down the street like nothing was nothing. But I? I broke out into a stupid incredulous grin. And my body reacted by pumping some adrenaline through itself and jacking all my senses up.
I went to work confused as hell at myself for this weirdness. I mean, Martin Short is the most underwhelming person I can think of. But, after contemplating my reaction to recognizing him on the street for a bit, I slowly got it.
Here’s my note:
When you’re on this side of the fence, it doesn’t matter who the celebrity is. Whether you give a fuck or not, there is always the potential for you to lose your shit.
Living in New York, and having done some writing for a small online entertainment and lifestyle publication, I occasionally come across a celebrity. I’ve seen them walking down the street, I’ve sat across from them at a table and spoken to them. Not a big deal, they’re just people. Right? Right. Except that while my brain tells me it’s cool, and for the most part I act accordingly, my body registers all of my hidden emotions about this occurrence and makes my hands shake. Nerves. Adrenaline. Doesn’t matter who they are or how interested I am.
I recall one fateful day attending a Tribeca Film Festival screening of an independent film Harry Potter star Rupert Grint was in. I said to myself: “Self, it’d be pretty cool to get Ron Weasley’s autograph. But he isn’t Harry Potter His Mothafuckin Self, Daniel Radcliffe so this is no big deal. You will remain calm and not lose your shit like all these other gals.” How arrogant of me. I had myself pretty convinced that dignity was mine because my passion for the one was not as strong as for the other. Pfft.
Guess what I did? The moment Grint’s impressive mane of ginger locks rounded the bend, I.Lost.My.Shit.Boo. And died of embarrassment.
Why does this happen? Is it because these people mostly exist inside of a two dimensional world of film, television, magazines and the internets which makes them somewhat unreal to us? Unreal as in godlike, in the vein of Zeus and his ilk? So that when we are confronted with their three dimensional bodies as evidence of their actual real life existence it’s like jumping into a pool of freezing water? They shock us into freak mode when they appear before us, whole and tangible. Some of us go catatonic, some of us cry and scream, some of us push and claw and climb.
Connected to that is the very real awareness that since we both (the known and the unknown) are now occupying the same space, well now we exist on the same plane. Both human beings on Earth with heartbeats and such. And they are now aware of us, specifically us, however fleeting and superficial that awareness might be.
If it’s just Martin Short in a suit, our hearts speed up and we grin like idiots just because he’s one of them. A known person. But if it’s Rupert Grint from that film series we adore, we go apeshit and try to reach Olympus solely by the power of our merely human vocal chords. We strain to make eye contact and touch (or simply to be acknowledged in some way) so as to convince ourselves of their solid, human forms.
Pics or it didn’t happen! Scribble your name illegibly on my stuff! Can I get a hug?! Can I get a kiss?!
Not only because he’s one of them, but because we have attached every emotional thrill we’ve ever experienced from bearing witness to whatever artistry he was involved in right onto him. He represents it, he is it, it’s him. It’s him! He’s real, and right in front of us!
These known folks are positioned as extra-ordinary people. And in many ways they are. Extra-ordinary. They have a talent, or two, or three that most of us don’t have. Those of us that do possess the same kind of talent but are not ‘known’ have a series of ‘somethings’ against us. They had the looks that we don’t. The opportunity. The luck. The charm. They did the hard work.
So when our hearts race, it’s not only because we are seeing this walking, talking Martin Short suit directly in front of us, it’s also because we are seeing his talent, his body of work and the emotions we’ve attached to it and the man. These can be of the “I don’t give a damn about stupid Martin Short” variety, but we have to know who he is and what he does in order to even have that negative emotion. He is a known person. Known to us and countless others.
Watch an episode of Primetime Glick or SNL from his years and take in the fact that Martin Short is doing something you can’t do. For millions of people. Or however many people watched those shows. And if you happen to see him come at you down an ordinary street in a suit one fine day and your heart races, that’s probably why. Just that, no other reason. Don’t sweat it.
Bleh, more lame ass musings to come.
Sincerely, K Dog