normal people and famous people and those in between

So I touched Ira Glass tonight.

I also heard him speak and saw him, you know, like all the other people in Centennial Hall did. But then my friends and I went up and acted silly and talked to him.

Anyone who doesn’t already know how awesome Ira Glass is is a fool. Hi spresentation was pretty awesome. He just has such a wonderful voice, and it was just an interesting presentation, though in some ways disappointing. Ira Glass is not someone you feel like listening to while sitting upright in a chair, smooshed against lots of other people. For some reason I felt one of my headaches come on, which didn’t make it any nicer to be uncomfortable, but it’s also one of those things that is weird to experience in person when you’re used to radio or the podcast. I wanted to be lying on the floor or on my bed with my eyes closed. That is how you should experience This American Life.

Regardless, it was cool. And of course I went up with the rest of my friends afterwards to go talk to him. I wanted him to sign my ticket, since I didn’t have anything else for him to sign. And while waiting in line was fun, just because we all got to hang out and because I talked to this other nice random girl who is about to graduate from law school. But meeting interesting people in this way makes me feel very, very uncomfortable, because I can never make myself look smart or interesting while doing it. Even if I had a burning question to ask Ira Glass, it would never be something that would just come to me while I’m standing in line with a ticket stub and a ballpoint pen. Just like people want to wait after concerts to meet the artist, it was something that needed to be done, but I also didn’t want to. I’m sure if I spent hours with him, we’d find something interesting to talk about, and I could actually make myself appear as smart as I’m pretty sure I am, and I could ask some good questions. But accosting someone after a performance is awkward and nerve wracking. I’m not one of those people who can just go up to a stranger and spill all of my life and dreams and ask for advice. Is it because I know the advice will likely be something I’ve heard before or because I know the advice of a famous person isn’t necessarily better than the advice of someone who knows me better? I’m not sure.

It’s a strange form of networking, and I’m not sure whether it’s better to be good at it or bad at it. Generally, I am pretty good at meeting strangers (at least adults and professionals…I’m terrible at people my own age) and being friendly, talking about myself, and ending up with advice or encouragement or connections or a job offer or something. It’s this conniving but genuine thing that I’ve sort of mastered. And I’ve just been lucky, I think. But when you’re meeting someone who is famous, even when they’re only famous to you, like Ira Glass, it’s hard to gush without sounding swoony, to ask for advice without being a cliché, to ask questions without being boring. I never know what to do.

Not that I’ve met a huge amount of famous people. But it’s still awkward. I hate listening to people fall over themselves at a book signing or an event like this one, and I know it’s mean of me. Who am I to tell someone to be less excited? Just because I’m inhuman doesn’t mean they need to be. But it’s so embarrassing. You know those times when other people, even when they’re strangers, do something so weird that they’re not embarrassed by that you end up being embarrassed for them, just because the thing you share is both being human? It’s horrible. I’m such a bitch sometimes.

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