Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Other Side of the Table

I'm pretty much your typical introvert: I like people, but interacting with them takes effort. And while you might think working online 14 hours a day would improve my social skills, shockingly, it hasn't. These days I spend so much time locked in my own head that I need advance warning to effectively switch gears from cerebral to social. (Of course in this context, "cerebral" = "brainstorming poo puns.")

As I'd guess is normal for introverts, I'm also easily star-struck. It doesn't really matter how famous the person is, either; I've been struck dumb and noodle-limbed by a photo op with Darth Vader. Last year.

"I find your lack of poise...disturbing."

Despite this, I have met a few actual celebrities in my life, almost all of whom were Star Trek actors. (I may not have much, but I do have my priorities. Heheh.)

Like everyone, I go into an autograph room telling myself that these are just people, no different than anyone else, and there's no rational excuse for my knees to be doing a drum solo. Then I get to the head of the line and lose all ability to behave like a biped. ("Miss? You ok down there?")

One of my main problems is that I never think of anything to say beforehand - I'm too focused on standing and breathing at the same time - so I end up staring blank-faced with terror at Brent Spiner or Nichelle Nichols like some kind of startled whippet. Usually I squeak out a "hi," and let loose a bit of nervous laughter. (Which is unfortunate, since my "nervous laughter" sounds more like "possessed donkey," and has been known to frighten small children.) Then I grab my prize - the autographed photo - and rush from the room, simultaneously relieved that the ordeal is over and disappointed that I didn't have more of a "moment" with whoever it was.

I'm not really sure what that "moment" is supposed to be: Denise Crosby declaring me her new best friend? John De Lancie asking for my phone number? (Actually, I did have Robert Beltran wink at me from across the room once. Though, in his defense, I was 18 and one of the very few females there.)

One memory that stands out is the time I met Walter Koenig, the original Chekov, back in 2006. The little autograph room was nearly empty at the time, so John and I and our friend Tim waltzed in and had our pick of celebrities. The guys went to see Denise Crosby, leaving me to approach Koenig alone. No line, no assistant. Just Mr. Koenig, sitting alone behind a table.

He seemed...weary. Almost sad. And there I was, terrified of even talking to him.

Fast forward a few years, and I was sitting down behind my own table while a large crowd queued up to get my autograph. Now, I'm certainly no celebrity, but this was the closest to the feeling I've ever been. At the time, of course, I was so overwhelmed I could hardly see straight, much less relish the role reversal. Instead I could only focus on each new face, each new smile, each new conversation.

And you know what? It was glorious. Fantastic, funny people, lots of laughter, and so much kindness I almost felt guilty sopping it all up. Soon I couldn't wait for each presentation to be over, just so I could sit down and talk to everyone, one on one.

Over the two legs of our book tour, John and I met nearly 4,000 fans. Many of these encounters were like my meeting Koenig: a quick smile, a hello, a signature, a goodbye. Most were sweet, or goofy, or touching, or even bizarre. (Ask me about the Easter bunny sometime.) A few, however, stood out because I could tell the person in question was nervous, just like me.

At my very first signing, a pretty girl with porcelain skin whispered that crowds made her panic, but she'd braved this one anyway to come out and meet me. It was a hugely pivotal moment. Suddenly, I saw myself in her place, and I realized maybe I wasn't the only one terrified to be there. Rather than making me feel famous, though, it made me feel humble and unprepared. How do you put a complete stranger at ease? Should I act cool, like I did this every day? Would she think me insincere if I admitted *I* was nervous, too? And most importantly, if we both fainted at the same time, would we bonk heads Three Stooges style and end up with matching bruises?

Eventually I learned that everyone deals with nerves differently. There were the gushers, talking a mile a minute, and those too flustered to get out a complete sentence. Some were shy, others loud and giddy. A few were so earnest with their praise that it felt deeply personal, like a secret they were trusting me to keep. There were even a few tears, as a small handful suffered anxiety attacks - one right at the table. (She ran sobbing from the room, much to my dismay, but later e-mailed to assure me all was well.)

Some months later, after I'd decompressed from all the tour craziness (you long-time readers will remember John's hospital ordeal), I had time to reflect back on it all. I thought about how different they are, those two sides of the table. I thought about Walter Koenig, and my knocking knees. I wondered why being "famous" separates one person from another - or at least why we allow it to separate us. I thought about how much easier it is to be the one sitting at the table, but also how much more pressure there is knowing someone else might be looking for that "moment" with you. I wondered if it would be different the next time *I* queued up for an autograph.

I also realized that, while I'll never be a celebrity, I do know what it feels like to have people go out of their way just to meet you, and just to tell you that what you do makes them smile. And that feels pretty darn amazing. I can only hope my own fan girl ravings will repay even a tiny portion of that feeling to the folks I admire - knees, nerves, and donkey laugh notwithstanding.

Oh, and for the record: I've since been to another convention, and I can confidently say that I am absolutely no less nervous meeting famous people. I still want to faint/throw up/bray incoherently. (My apologies, Brent.) So, the next time you're in an autograph room and hear someone calling for a donkey exorcist, come say hello, won't you? I'll be the one crawling towards the doorway.


  1. The 'knocking knees' never gets old. I'm admittedly, a boyband junkie. No shame in my game!

    While I'm still on the hunt to meet the 4 members of NKOTB I haven't had the pleasure of meeting, I've met all the members of BSB NUMEROUS times over the years.
    Earlier this year, I spent HOURS with them over 2 days. The ONLY thing that made it anyless nerve wracking... was the fact that it was in Napa and wine was flowing. Lots of wine. Lots.

    But the next day? The nerves were back in full force at the first event of the day. And I'm sure, the next time I catch up with any of them, it will be the same, one more time, with feeling. :)

  2. I do the same thing!! Meeting my favorite celebrities TERRIFIES me. I could barely get any words out when I got to go to a Ray Bradbury book signing. Then, a few weeks ago, my VERY FAVORITE ACTOR EVER (Doug Jones, from Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth, etc) came to speak at my church. I was so nervous I couldn't even look at him! fortunately, my priest is NOT shy, and insisted on introducing us, and he talked with my friends and I for a long time, and ended up eating dinner at our table! My legs STILL feel like Jell-O over that one, and it was two weeks ago!!

    Siiiiigh. I love being an introvert, but it makes me into a total spaz sometimes...

  3. This made me laugh sooooo much! I love you. I do. And I am envious of the Star Trek... "moments" Sigh. Maybe someday. Thanks :-)

  4. Jen,
    Did you ever tell Mr. Koenig how you felt and how sad he looked?
    From what I could see (behind my computer here) did well for an introvert!!
    Cue the applause.


  5. Is it wrong that I totally read that photo caption with James Earl Jones' voice in my head.

  6. I'll be the one passed out next to you! j/k. I almost missed the chance to meet Ron Glass because I was so nervous! But luckily my husband's a big Firefly fan and refused to miss out on meeting Shepherd Book. And I am so glad to see you're GLAD to be signing autographs. I've been to (small) conventions, and a few years ago a friend came with us to meet the Star Wars cast members that were going to be there. He walked up to the line of Peter Mayhew, and asked the assistant how much it costs to sing, paid and walked over to the table, and Mr. Mayhew cussed him out for not having a ticket (he'd forgotten to take the ticket from the assistant. Then griped about having to sign a picture of himself in the Chewbacca costume. That was the same year we met Mr. Glass, and it was amazing how different they were, Ron Glass had to stop and tell a joke or story to each person, and even as he was coming to the table to get ready to sign, he gathered everyone in line around him and told a story of about a kid he knew, and insisted on pics! It was amazing.

  7. My only encounter with a celebrity was last year. I ran into Garth Brooks outside Office Depot while we were waiting on the store to open (we live in the same town in Oklahoma). I never acknowledged that I knew who he was, though. We just chatted til the store opened. Of course, in the back of my mind, all I could think about was the fact that I had gone out with no makeup on... like he would actually notice that. LOL.

  8. I totally know how you feel. I've never met any of the Star Trek cast (jealous!), but I'm a huge hockey fan, so I've met most of the players on my favorite team. My trouble is I think of all these things I want to say and when I get my turn to get something signed, I can barely respond to questions like "How are you?" Lol! I've met some of the players numerous times (as they've been on the team for years and are the guys who always want to sign autographs) and I still get nervous talking to them, but not as badly as I used to.

  9. :) You ( and your great humor and cute self-deprecating remarks) make me smile. You for sure make all of us introverts look much cooler! ;) Much love, take care :)

    "futrit" = a fruity future?

  10. I had a nice time seeing you in Washington, Jen. Thanks for writing "Nice watermelons" in my cakewrecks book :D

  11. I know exactly how you feel. I was on a minor TV show and people have approached me at work asking for my autograph and to talk about it, yet I'm still at a loss for words when I meet celebrities in person.

    I think one of the best experiences I had was Nathan Fillion. I got his autograph for my sister and her husband, and when he looked at my nametag and realized it wasn't for me, he gave me a grin like I was one of the nicest people in the room. Gareth David Lloyd is also really approachable and really cool.

    Random note, my captcha word? conments, which I read as comments and thought it apropos.

  12. I totally feel your pain as well! To date, I've met mostly musicians with one notable exception of Emmanuel Lewis (yes, Webster, and while I was working at a home improvement store no less)!

    I've actually decided not to go to conventions before even though someone I really REALLY wanted to meet (George Romero) was going to be there because I was worried I would freak out/remain silent/look like a total spaz. It was also a fear of looking that way to other uber nerds that are so socially inept they have no problem bum-rushing their faves and going into full geek in their presence.

    I think most celebrities (unless they're jerks, like Bill Murray) understand that fans get nervous!! Emmanuel Lewis was so nice, especially since no one else I worked with would approach him to help!

  13. I love me some "poo puns" :)

    I have met random famous people but it usually consisted of me searching my wallet for a piece of paper and a pen, handing it to them, and then saying thanks. I have not had an opportunity to go to an autograph signing. Maybe one day, we will meet and exchange a poo pun or two :)

  14. Began reminiscing about your booksigning as soon as I started reading this and then OMIGOSH, there I am with my crackpipe cake! For some reason I didn't feel so nervous meeting you. Maybe the whole blogging phenomenon makes me feel like I know someone on a more personal level. Or perhaps your awesome Ghostbusters tee assured me that you were a kindred spirit. :)

    My best fangirl moment was meeting Joel Hodgson, Mary Jo Pehl, Frank Conniff, and Trace Beaulieu from MST3K after their live Cinematic Titanic performance here last summer. I held it together with a goofy grin on my face as they all signed our "Mitchell" dvd and a bootleg VHS of "Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell". Then Joel took a picture with me and I hurried out of the theater to squeal, "JOEL HUGGED ME!!1!"

  15. Oh, man, I hear you. I am to Firefly as your are to Star Trek, and I've met most of the crew of Serenity, and those autograph lines are just NOT CONDUCIVE to relaxed conversation. Thankfully, some celebrities (Ron Glass and Gina Torres: BOTH AWESOME) make it easier than others.

    Then, SOMETIMES, you're wandering around a con hotel after hours, say, near the bar, and you end up hanging around Adam Baldwin and his eight-and-a-half-foot tallness, and he HUGS YOU and calls you gorgeous, and then even though he's never quite been your favorite, you still need to faint. But he's still hanging at the bar, so you can't.

    For me, the bar was even worse than the autograph line, because you can't ignore that he's a real person when you're at a bar, but you still don't feel like you can relate to him on that level, so instead you drink and nod awkwardly while your extroverted friends rake in the 'moments.' Ah, memories.

    True story.

  16. I think everyone has some level of hero worship for someone/something. I could not bring myself to buy the meet and greet passes for a Black Sabbath and Judas Priest tour for that very reason. I just knew that I would puke and pass out the very second that I laid eyes on Tony Iommi. *sigh*

  17. And it doesn't help that you get herded like cattle through the autograph line. Trying to think of something charming or funny to say when you get to the celebrity is hard when you are trying to concentrate on having the photo ready to be signed and the ticket out to be punched by a handler...

    Fortunately I've managed not to make a total fool of myself whenever I've met various cast members of Stargate and Atlantis.

    Speaking of which...feel free to join us in Chicago in August. :) Joe Flanigan and David Hewlett as guests? Yes please!!


  18. Yeah - got to meet you at the Orlando book signing. Did the whole, "See, she's just another person, no biggie, just go up, don't say anything stupid and ask her to sign your book". Naturally, the introvert instincts took over and by the time I got to the front of the line, I almost let loose with a possessed donkey bray of my own. You were very cool, though, and did an excellent job of putting me at (relative) ease. You complimented my necklace and I think I darn near passed out... Nice to know you get just as nervous as the rest of us!

  19. I'm a grinning idiot when it's autograph time. I'm more of an extrovert than introvert, but it still doesn't help. A friend got an autograph from Jeremy Bulloch and we all stood numbly by, grinning like mad. But, hey, it's a ComiCon... My highlight of an autograph was BJ Thomas. !! I was a nervous wreck in line. And did I honestly say I'd been listening to his music since I was a little kid?! Good job at making him seem REALLY old. lol It was a huge pleasure to be at your book signing in Austin. Thanks!!

  20. This is my favorite post.

    I remember being at a convention for the first time. I think it helped that I was older. I didn't go to my first convention until I was well in my 20s and I've only been to two so far. Three is coming up. (Brent Spiner. Woosh.)

    I've terrible anxiety at times. But working in the retail industry has done some good. I can fake a casual conversation with a dog at this point.

    Last D*C (which I didn't see you at, doggone!) I met an actor who is pretty loved by the females. (I'm female too, mind you, just with slightly different preferences) It ended up being a fascinating meeting.

    I'm not incredibly big on autographs. I only have one (autopenned Conan sits on my desk). So I walked up to this guy and said "Hey, what's up. I'm (such and such). I'm not really big into autographs, so I just wanted to say hi." Cue handshake/fistpump/whatever cheesy thing I decided to do. He was absolutely amazing. Pulled my D*C tag over and signed it. Now I have two autographs--wherever that tag

    Anyway! Later that same con a friend and I took a second visit to the table. So we meet again! "It's me again," I said. We ended with a little roleplay. Awkward endings to conversations with celebrities are awkward, so I dragged my friend away as if I were a sponsor. "She has to go now. Her autograph time is over. No pictures, please."

    And, lordy lordy, it worked out pretty well. He played along. My friend was so extremely happy. I really felt awesome.

    I feel the same way as you, though, about celebrities. There is definitely something, an energy, heightened in meeting them. Logic dictates that they're painfully normal people. But damnit if they don't bring with them this giddy anxiety in meeting them.

    I'm definitely not saying I conquered that, but I faked it pretty damn well. But it's great to see it from the other side through your eyes. People is people, celebrity or not.

    I'll probably never be in that celebrity seat. So, like I say, it's nice to see what it's like, here.

  21. Lol I know how you feel. I have met a few celebs and boy is it ever embarrassing when your own Mom can talk to them while you stand there struck dumb with awe. Boy I will never live it down lol.

  22. I've had my share of autograph line misery, including overhearing John de Lancie gripe to his handler that he was supposed to have been done already right before I stepped up to get my autograph. I felt about 2 inches tall. But the worst was when by some miraculous coincidence, my favorite French actor, Daniel Auteuil happened to come to the town in France where I was studying abroad for a book signing. Despite being reasonably fluent in French, I didn't manage to get anything more out of my mouth than, "I'm sorry. I don't speak very good French. I'm American," which was completely pointless to say because he would have been able to assess how good my French was and determine that I was American through absolutely any words I'd chosen to say. I could have instead said what a pleasure it was to meet him and what a fan I was of his films...or something. Anyway, I know the absolute terror of waiting in those lines, the fantasy that you'll say something so absolutely charming and clever that the celebrity will single you out from amongst all of his fans to be his new best friend. But it hasn't happened yet.

  23. I think part of it is the subconscious knowledge that you know more about this (famous) person than they will ever know about you and the fine line between that and stalker. Even when it's not in a large situation (cons, stage doors, etc) where the crowds factor into nerves, there's still some butterflies when there's a celebrity around.
    One day at an old job, this guy came up and asked for one of my co-workers. As I looked up to direct him to her office, I noticed it was Casey Affleck. I kind of tilted my head and pointed and said "She's down the hall?" because even those I was saying those words, I was thinking "You're Casey Affleck?!?!" It turns out that my co-worker was friends with the Phoenix family (we live where they're from, so not too unusual) and Casey (who is married to Liberty) was coming to speak to a summer camp class. We were buzzing about it all day, though. I mean, we knew who he was married to, who his in-laws were, what his children's name were (and speculated that one was a nod to absent brother-in-law River)... and this guy didn't even know our names.
    It's weird on many levels.

  24. I've only met celebrities who meant relatively nothing to me (worked at an upscale restaurant outside Boston for 3 years), so I was able to be calm. On the other hand, I feel like I'm stalking Wil Wheaton when I slavishly read his blog - I imagine my nervous laugh would ensue if I ever meet him. Funny thing is, people consider me an extrovert. Thanks for the great laugh - needed it today.

  25. Great blog.... it's nice hearing about the experiences from 'both sides of the table'! I can't even bring myself to queue up at all so I can relate to a lot of the anxiety :)

  26. Yeah, I know how you feel. My first autograph opportunity was with Adam Baldwin and I was so nervous my friends had to practically shove me into the line. :P

    The next one went much better though, it was my first Comic Convention (Emerald City ComicCon in Seattle) and Gigi Edgley, Lani Tupu and Wayne Pygram from Farscape were there, and it was back when the media guests just had a big table and you could just stop by and say hi. Somehow I got into a conversation with Gigi about the weather of all things, and she was incredibly sweet. Lani Tupu was a little less friendly though, and I was too intimidated to even try to talk to Wayne :P.

    Of course, they've since changed how they deal with media guests, where each has his or her own table with barriers set up for the lines. It's a lot more intimidating to introverts like me, and a lot harder to approach and just say hi. That hasn't stopped me, however, from adding Tahmot Penikett from BSG, and Jewel Staite from Firefly to my collection though. I'm really pissed that I missed the opportunity to get Leonard Nimoy's this year though. He was there, I was there, but he was never at his table when we were over in that area, and I will never forgive myself from missing that one.

    Of course, for me having my dad there for a lot of those (since he's the only one who shares my geeky interests) helps because he's very extroverted, so he prevents awkward pauses :P

  27. [First may I say the fans of Jen and this blog sure are kindred spirits? Star Trek, Firefly, Star too.]

    Since I became what I call a "Y-List celebrity" I have experienced the very same thing you have, Jen. Having people treat ordinary me like someone famous has gone a long way to helping me realize celebrities are not another species after all.

    That said, picturing myself in the presence of John DeLancie still makes me swoony. LOL

  28. this makes me SOOO excited to meet you in salt lake!!! i can't wait! hopefully i'm not *too* much of a gusher...heh.

  29. Even though I'm an extrovert, I can still relate--I'm a socially awkward extrovert! I wind up babbling 100 mph, then walk away mortified, either because I can't remember what I said or because I said something monumentally stupid (usually the latter). Thank you for giving me hope that my heroes could be as understanding as you.

  30. I'm in that same boat Jen! My husband and I (before we were married) went to a Switchfoot concert and at the last minute my husband bought backstage passes to go meet them. We are both huge Switchfoot fans so we were thrilled!
    Jaden had the time of his life meeting his musical heroes....I turned red and just smiled nervously. I took the pictures. :)
    Not only did I go completely blank on what to say to them, I just smiled like an idiot at them the whole time.
    But they're super nice guys and were very gracious about it!

  31. I also get incredibly starstruck... and I also know how silly it is. Can't help it - and I'm pretty darned outgoing! Honestly, if I came to meet YOU, I'd have no idea what to say, despite the fact that in reading your posts I feel like my husband and I could easily hang out with you & John on a regular basis if we lived near each other.

  32. OMG Jen, you make me laugh. I was reading along, minding your business and got to your line about braying like a "possessed donkey" and I spit sun chip crumbs all over my computer screen when I burst out laughing! At least it wasn't coffee.

    I got to meet Majel Barrett here in Dartmouth NS one year and I was stunned stupid - too shy to do more than grin maniacally at her.

    Thanks for the laughs Jen. EPBOT is the first blog I read every day! (Cakewrecks is the second now).

    Terri from Nova Scotia

  33. In two weeks, I am going to a comic book convention and meeting James Marsters. And it just so happens that I'm going to be dressed as Poison Ivy. I'm a bit terrified.

  34. Separated at birth we were, Jen. Gene Roddenberry: "Uh, Hi." Mel Blanc: "Uh." (He was so amused, he said, as Bugs Bunny, "Don't be nervous, Doc!" which didn't help.) Managed to squeak out an entire sentence to John Denver before dissolving into tears.

    All-time best autographing celebs: George Takei (funny, told stories, very kind), James Galway (remembered signing a previous autograph("the Mozart, wasn't it?") and asked how my playing was coming, and composer John Willams, who brushed aside a minion insisting that The Bus Was Waiting and He Must Leave Now by saying, "Look, these people waited to see me, and I'm going to sign autographs for them. And I'm The Maestro so the bus can wait!"

    It's good to know that there are nerves on both sides of the table.

  35. I have an unusual perspective of celebrities because I work as a seamstress/costumer in film and television. I too am an introverted geek (so bad, in fact, that I get nervous just posting a comment on this blog!) and I totally stink at small talk, especially when I first meet someone. I have found that my favorite famous people are the ones who treat me like a normal person and not their servant or annoying fly. (You have nothing to worry about, Jen – you are very good at treating your fans like normal people! My husband and I really enjoyed meeting you.) I can probably count on one hand the celebrities I would do anything for as a co-worker, two of those being Tina Majorino and Kevin Sorbo. They are both incredibly nice and wonderful to work with – I hope I am lucky enough to work with them again someday.

    And (please pardon the moment of Trek geek bragging) I can now say I have worked with Jonathan Frakes. He was here in Dallas directing an episode of “The Good Guys” last week. Mr. Frakes made the set atmosphere really fun and jokingly gave a lot of the crew guys a hard time. I was never officially introduced, but I did have a one-on-one work related (read: mundane) conversation with him – I was proud of myself for being completely normal and professional, hehe. (If you like comedy with high action, watch “The Good Guys” on Fox Mondays at 9/8c starting tonight.)

    ~ Brooke

  36. I have 15 words for this post:

    Ha! Ha ha ha ha...ahahahaha! HAHAHAHAHA HA HA HA HA! (takes deep breath) Ha ha ha haha!

    Oh yeah, that, and Happy Memorial Day. I'm sure it's funny to be on both sides of the table, but looking on the bright side, don't they make medications for laughing like a donkey? No? :) Hmm...some brilliant mad scientist should be working on it for the better of human kind. In the mean time, wreck on! :) You know just how we fell...(erm, *feel*). :)

  37. I once shared an elevator for two floors with Fred/Piro from Megatokyo. NOT really the biggest of celebrities, right?

    I mean, for crying out loud, it was at a con. I was -dressed like one of his characters-.

    I hid in the corner and couldn't say a word. >_<

  38. I also do the con thing (and met Walter Koenig) and I'm also terrified! I try to think of something good to say but it always comes out wrong - except the time I told Teryl Rothery that I cried for hours over Janet's death, and I still do, and she smiled, teared up a little and said she cried. One of the best moments of my life! But mostly, I stand there, grinning like an inane idiot, unable to say anything coherent, and slightly worried I'm about to start dribbling because I'm smiling so wide.

  39. I have the same problem, coupled with an overwhelming urge to cry. CRY for heaven's sake. Even if it's a famous person I don't particularly care about. If I know they are famous? I get all weird.

  40. I do the same thing - i have these great ideas of what to say to them ahead of time and then meet them and pretty much go "hi *splode*"

    and to mzmclean - i am SO jealous! lol

  41. You forgot the people who make terrible jokes in an attempt to say something. It's even more awkward when it's really loud there, and you have to repeat it, and you realize how ridiculous you sound in the process.

  42. I was coming out of the train station returning from a trip to London (where I saw NO celebrities!) when I thought I recognised someone and it only came to me seconds before he passed that it was BILL NIGHY (Pirates of the Caribbean/Love Actually/Shawn of the Dead actor!!!) and I had clearly been staring at him so I managed to say (or squeak) 'HI!!' and continue staring as he nodded and smiled in a knowing way and continued to walk past. Then afterwards I felt incredibly dumb and wish I'd asked for a photograph or at least told him how much I love his work. :(

  43. I'm oddly not nervous when meeting famous people. I wasn't nervous with you, Gregory Maguire, or the Indigo Girls. Of course, it might not be the same if I were to meet someone I have a little crush on, like Jason Mraz. I'm going to a "Meet the Red Sox" thing at the end of July so if I can keep my cool then, that might be a good sign.

  44. Man, I'm loving all your comments and stories! I should start posting things like: "Most embarrassing moments? Aaaaand...go!" just so we can all commiserate together. :D

    Mocking, I didn't say much to Koenig - just a few sentences about an online project of his. Later John dragged me back to the table, though, and asked Koenig to take a picture with me. (!!) And he DID, which put me over the moon. There are definite advantages to having an extrovert spouse or friend with you!

    Sophieleemom & Michelle, I love being pleasantly surprised by a super nice celebrity - and I'm equally crushed when one is nasty. (In my dream world, Bill Murray is as awesome off-camera as he is on. Heh.) It's such a shame that some of the convention regulars are obviously only there for the $$. Blech. I'd rather meet a "lesser" celeb who is awesome (Armin Shimmerman/Quark of DS9 talks to *everyone* for a looong time) than have an icy encounter with some A-lister!

    Great points, Crystal; you're so right about the awkward feeling of knowing more about a person than they'll ever know (or even care to know!) about you. I guess hero-worship IS a kind of stalking, when you think about it like that. (Which makes me feel weird, so I'd rather not. Heh.)

  45. I don't know why, but I'm completely comfortable talking with/in front of people I previously had no idea existed (So that excludes family members, some friends, and famous people.... The majority of the small group of people I know.). Lady Gaga is pretty much my IDOL and and I'd be completely start struck meeting her (Not to say that you're not one of my idols and I wouldn't be completely star struck meeting you.:)).

    My family is always trying to push me to be extroverted, but I'm not. I'm Super Introvert. That's who I am and since there's no way to escape that reality at big social events like christmas dinner at my aunt's with half my family (I'm way to young to drink...)I usually go to the bathroom 1 or 2 times to calm myself down because it can be overwhelming. And I've never really told anyone this (Nonetheless post it as a comment on a popular blog on the internet...), but I'm a little insecure because they all speak PERFECT french except for my dad (it's on my mom's side.)

    To wrap up, when I see someone in my small circle of friends giggle like an insane asylum resident, I feel comforted by that in a weird sort of way because I know I'm not the only one who does things like that. So Thank you soooo much for this post! It's really helped me vent into a really. Long. Comment. :) (Yeah, sorry about that.)

  46. I haven't met any real celebrities, just a few bands that I really adore(d). I kept thinking that I was going to get really nervous and either freak out or run away. Amazingly enough, neither happened, and I managed to keep my cool. I don't know how, and if I ever meet anyone famous again, I'm sure I'll have the same dread.
    I wish to someday come to one of your events and meet you and your hubby John, and I hope you'll forgive me if I puke in my mouth a little, because I find that I adore the two of you much more than any band I've gone to see, so it will probably be much more nervewracking- or at least exciting.

    P.S. Since I haven't gotten around to commenting on the new blog up til now- I love it, I love that your humor knows no bounds, and you have the most excellent taste in all things funny and cool (LOVE LOVE LOVE the nerdy jewelry post!) Also, my almost 2-year-old walked in to watch the two muppets videos you posted the other day, and was so excited, so I have a feeling that you'll have him as a fan when he's older (what am I saying?! You already do, obviously!). Thanks so much!

  47. Why is being introverted connected to being star struck? I've never heard of that before. Certainly isn't universal.

  48. Jen--next time you need someone with you while you meet Koenig, think of me!! I'm not so much a Trek fan, but thinking of his character in Babylon 5 still gives me little shivers.

  49. While I'm more of an extrovert, I completely understand. What *are* you supposed to say in those situations??

    I suppose, if you're me, you'll find that you're wearing the same exact shoes as the person on the other side of the table and babble on about it like an idiot.

    And then, you'll go home and blog about it, like an even bigger dork/idiot:

  50. Oh, and best celeb signing experience? Weird Al. He stays after concerts to sign, and he signed a get well card for my best friend, who was at home with 24-hour morning sickness. Very neat guy.

  51. Hey there! I LOVE CW and am SO enjoying Epbot (You go, girl!) Anyway...I went to Gallifrey One for the first time this year and when I went through the autograph line (first you must know I am the *ahem* verbal vomit version of geek/fan...) And I immediately told Frazer Hinds that I loved him and that he is responsible for my mild obsession with men in kilts. (In, I might add due to an unfortunate bet with my brother, a fake Scottish accent.) YYYYYYEAAAHHH...but I did have a GREAT moment with him. He gave me a big ol' hug and a kiss on the cheek (I nearly died) But then I told Tommy Knight that he was "the cutest thing ever"...this may have made me seem less sincere... LOL Anyway I also had great moments with Nick Briggs, Graeme Harper and Rob Shearman...I think they liked having words of praise spewed randomly across their nice clothes. LOL Anyway, I hope they did...that restraining order is SO not my fault! ;0) Keep doing what you do so well and maybe I can come and be word sick all over you some time. LOL Life is a joy, ROCK IT SOUNDLY!

  52. I love the way you write. I'm sure you pretty much talk the same. I'm leaving a comment on this particular one, because I believe it is the first time in all your posts (including CW) that I have read that I actually snorted at the end. That takes some work! I always laugh, but a snort is rare!

  53. I've only gotten two autographs (not only am I an introvert but I live in a small town near a small city where no one visits) and each time was terrifying. I was so jealous of those who were chatting away when it was all I could to to make "hi" "thank you" audible.

  54. The closest I've gotten to a famous person was a very crowded yet incredibly awesome panel with voice actor J. Michael Tatum. I didn't get a chance to see how I'd react to actually talking to him. I'd probably just make a ton of incoherent squeaking noises and then do something stupid like hug-attack him and get myself thrown out.

  55. Enjoy being star struck! Once you lose that feeling and realize that they are regular people it's not nearly as much fun anymore. My husband and I both work regularly with various celebrities and just don't think about them being special anymore.
    It is fun to watch other people though. I think its great when people are excited about meeting someone. With only a few exceptions most of the celebrities I've worked with have enjoyed meeting their fans. As long as people are polite and respectful of the persons time.

  56. I haven't had a lot of experience meeting "famous folks", but I have met you and John. My daughter & I saw you in Denver and were very pleased to meet you.

    I've also met two of the vets from Emergency Vets on Animal Planet...does it count that they live here? ;o) I saw a third vet from the show at the gas station, but I didn't go say anything to him.

    And that's about it! I too am nervous, but I think that I do a pretty good job covering it (unless you remember me and tell me otherwise...that's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

  57. ari from australiaJune 1, 2010 at 1:35 AM

    I know I've been tooting this same horn endlessly every time a tour is mentioned, but...but...but...

    You REALLY need to come do a tour in Australia! We would like to laugh like an idiot, start crying, and possibly vomit on your table as well, ya know.

    Come on, Jen -- I can show you where all the cool Kangaroos hang out...

    ari from australia
    (cake wreck fan down under)

  58. Jen, I LOVE this post! I'm a total introvert too, and since small talk with "normal" people is already not my forte, chatting with famous people really turns me to pudding!

    Most of the famous people I've met are musicians, and the one that meant the most was Weird Al. I've been a fan since his first album. He was SOOOO gracious! I wish I'd had a camera with me, because he posed for pictures with folks.

    I would love to meat Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse, but I'm sure I'd be dumbstruck. My brother is great with famous people, so I always try to go with him so at least one of us isn't a babbling idiot.

  59. I spoke with you and John in KC last November. I got last in line, just so I could have a few extra minutes, then got tongue tied! You guys were so cute and we had a great time.

  60. For the introvert/starstruck questioners: I think it is a different kind of starstruck than extroverts might have. I assume their struckness is more "how cool! I loved him/her in ____! I have seen everything he/she was in! - want to party with him/her!"
    I think introverts have a more personal struckness, imagining a friendship, imagining how they must be in person (Twitter stalking helps with this.) So the pressure to impress and make a connection on meeting is paralyzing.

    I am glad I saw Patrick Stewart from outside the door of the room. No risk of panicking and disappointing. I too laugh like a donkey (very unsettling in business meetings).

    Cwise: Nathan Fillion seems like a really nice guy. He is on my list. :)

    Jen, I was nervous to meet you too.


  61. Okay, Star Trek celebrity encounter story #937... :)

    Hubby and I have been to quite a few ST cons in our time, but my absolute favorite was meeting Jimmy Doohan. What a doll! He was so patient, so kind. During the Q&A, one girl stood up and asked him, "What does it feel like to beam up?" Despite all the groans from the audience, he answered her. "Well, it's all really just special effects - we stand there, they film us, they stop filming us, we move aside, they film again and it looks like we've disappeared. Then they add the special effects. That's all there is to it."
    Same girl, several minutes later, "But really, does it hurt when you beam up and your molecules all come apart?" O_O
    He was so kind, he answered her question all over again.

    We had read that Mr. Doohan served in the Canadian military and landed in Normandy on D-Day. So, we stood up and asked him about that. My goodness, you should have seen how his face LIT UP! "A question that DOESN'T have to do with Star Trek! YESSSS!" He talked about that experience for quite some time, much to the boredom of some of the really serious geeks. We loved the story, though, and when we went up to meet him at the end, he had a big smile for us and a "Thank you."

    My big hang up is that I don't want to keep the line waiting because I know how antsy I have been to meet and greet, so I try to take up as little time as possible. I guess I should learn to take my time - I earned the right to stand there and chat for a moment as much as the next guy!

    Jen, love the new blog, love CW and laugh to read words that might have sprung from my own head. Kindred spirits, all of us! Amen!

  62. Haha, I like this post. I went to my first Otakon (anime convention) in 2004, where I went to an autograph panel for some voice actors. I was pretty much full-body shaking the entire time I was in line and getting my picture taken.

    Two weeks later, I had to get my wisdom teeth taken out. I was more nervous about the panel than I was about the surgery, and I admitted this to the surgeon :)

    I've been to lots of cons since then and my nerves have lessened some, but I still kinda babble anything I say.

  63. I got teary-eyed just reading that.

  64. I loved this. When you're at the front of the line acting like a complete fool in front of one of your idols who you'll probably never get a chance to meet ever again, you convince yourself you're the only one who is like that, the only one who manages to flub up a memorable moment like that, the only one with jitters and nerves who can't control them. It's so nice knowing I'm not alone. I still remember being 4th in line to see one of my all-time heroes. When I got up to the front he actually held my hand while he signed my book (as he did for everyone) and I was so nervous that I was touching my idol that I TOOK MY HAND AWAY. He just let me of course and acted like I hadn't done anything weird. I slipped away in shame. I will never forgive myself for that. But it is nice to know I probably wasn't the only one with a problem that day. :)

    If it helps my image, I did much better when I was younger and met James Doohan. I was the youngest kid in line, and definitely the only girl, and he actually stood there and had a conversation with me. Now that was a proud moment for me.

    Thank you for posting this. Wonderful, wonderful post.

  65. A friend of mine went to meet Peter Facinelli (of Twilight fame) at a comic convention with her husband. Now, seeing as how this man is ridiculously good looking, you would think that she'd be nervous, but she was a pro. Her husband on the other had was a nervous wreck and managed to blurt out to Peter, "You're married to Jennie Garth right? I love her sitcom!!" He actually captured the whole exchange on video and I think it's one of the funniest things I've ever seen!
    Love the new blog Jen, reading it is definitely one of the highlights of my day :)

  66. I was, many years ago, as a fan-fic writer and fanzine publisher (on paper--that dates me, yes?) a bit of a celebrity in a certain fandom. One time at a con, I got on a dangerously overcrowded elevator and next to me was... a fan of mine. A *gushing* fan. A LOUD gushing fan. Who proceeded to carry on, at the top of her voice, in this packed car that of course stopped at every floor and took what seemed like HOURS to reach the lobby, about what a thrill and priviledge it was to be in the same elevator as her HERO and on and on and ON. With every person on that elevator staring from her to me, her to me, her to me, ALL THE WAY DOWN.

    Wanted to die. Just die. Just DIE!

    Oh, your post made me laugh, Jen. There's no one like fans... there's no one like fans. There's no one...... :)

  67. Jen, I am loving your blog! Like you, I'm a SciFi and Disney geek.

    Hubby and I did a lot of the Trek convention circuit way back when and got to meet so many people who were on the show. It was so fabulous! But you never really know what to say, do you?

    James Doohan was one of my favorites. We hung around to the end to get a photo with him. He grabbed me and pulled me down onto his lap and was generally a big flirt. But my favorite was meeting Anthony Daniels (C3PO from Star Wars). We actually had a question for him! And he said nobody had ever asked him that before! *geek heaven* We had just been to Disneyland Paris, and we asked if he did the French C3PO voice in Star Tours there -- which he did. Hubby's favorite was probably Yvonne Craig (Batgirl from the '60's Batman series). He was twitterpated to meet her anyway, and then the two struck up a conversation about Wallace & Gromit since he was wearing a Gromit shirt. I think if he had to pick between me and Yvonne Craig, she would win!

    Now I work for a NASCAR driver and have spent a fair amount of time around him as he's signed autographs for fans at organized events. It's a different perspective from behind the table for sure! I love meeting all the fans, and it's so fun to watch my driver's interaction with them.

    I hope to meet you across the autograph table some day!!

  68. I got to meet Wil Wheaton at the LA Festival of Books last year, and the first thing I did was babble on about the "nice weather we're having!" The weather? The weather!!!!????

    Then, I got up the courage to do something that I was thinking of doing that morning... and asked him to "bless" my d20 die. I put it down and it was on a 1 (bad roll) and I said, "Ooohhh no, but not on a 1! Here, I'll roll it!" And I rolled it.... right off the table and into his crotch!! I thought I was going to DIE!!! He retrieved it as I looked anywhere but, saying "Ok, do it again, but this time try not to roll it into my crotch!" ... ... "yeah."

    Actually it was a great ending. I rolled it, and he came up with this AWESOME ad-libbed blessing that I wish I could remember.. something about the blessed order of the polyhedra, etc. etc.

    Anyway, that was the best/worst experience I've ever had!

  69. OK, seriously. I shouldn't have read this. I would have been much better at meeting Nicholas Lodge yesterday if I didn't have this post int he back of my head reminding me to be nervous. Grumblecakes.

  70. I work in a theatre in the UK, so consider myself a little jaded when it comes to meeting celebrities. However, when George Takei appeared as the Emperor in our Christmas Panto, I was nervous as hell that I'd completely show myself up if I came face to face with him. My boyfriend forced me to ask him for his autograph, because he knew I'd regret it if I didn't. Mr Takei was soooo lovely and warm and friendly, and I was instantly at ease; though the moment when he said "Oh, my!" when I handed him the picture of himself I wanted him to sign, will stay with me forever!

  71. A few days late here, but I thought you were terrific at the Orlando book signing. I'm not sure which category my family fell into there (other than, I'm sure, overwhelming) but you and John were beyond gracious. The crazy awkward part was when the guy from the New York Times called me wanting to do a phone interview about your book signing. I am soooooo NOT a phone person. I think I epitomized all of your favorite features - the donkey bray, the babble, the struck silent. And then I made a crack about my married name being the same as that of a famous stripper (seriously - many firewalls block my website as porn!) and OF COURSE he knows the *real* Heidi Mattson and is best buddies with her. I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide! I was probably the last person anyone should have called to help you out with publicity o.O

  72. While at the Ocean City boardwalk in New Jersey, figure skater and my (at the time) Olympic crush Elvis Stojko walked through the food court area my husband and I were eating at. A few of the food vedors yelled "Hey, Elvis!" over at him and he waved at them, but most of the people around didn't have a clue who he was. I--on the other hand--lost the ability to speak, breathe, blink, and swallow the mouthful of pizza I had been chewing. My husband insisted I go over to him and ask for a picture/autograph, but I refused to. Elvis was with his family and bothering him seemed incredibly rude.
    On the other end of the spectrum, I had no problem accosting wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin in a bar after a WWE event I had attended. I think it had a lot to do with the Coors Light I had been pounding back.

  73. Loved this particular post - at your book signing in Atlanta you'd ask people what you should write and we were all tongue-tied. I was thrilled you remembered the photo I sent to you of our wedding cake (the chubby bathing beauties) and that we got to talk to you.

  74. This may be the geekiest comment ever...but after your definition of the typical introvert, along with your love of cake, Star Trek and all things geeky, and the use of the term "hobbit" to allude to your shortness in the car post, I have to ask...are you ME??? It's too bad we live so far apart because I think we could be great friends...or maybe not, you know, because that would require being social and all. Anyway, keep up the awesome work!

  75. I have trouble talking on the phone to "normal people," let alone anyone remotely famous. I'm ridiculously shy most of the time.

    A friend and I have a list of things we're not to let each other say if we ever meet Nightwish, and some of them are bound to come out anyway. Hopefully none of the really weird questions come out. *crosses fingers*

  76. Is it sad that I recognized the background immediately as that little outdoor giftshop in Hollywood studios next to Backlot Tour? That you took it during Star Wars Weekends? I would say that I spend to much time at the parks, but then again, I work there.

    Working at Food and Wine at EPCOT, I got to work with several famous tv chefs (Cat Cora is like 5'1", so was wearing heels [with a chefs jacket, weird...] and I still towered over her at 5'8", Buddy Valastro from Cake Boss is kind of a fame junkie, all about the autographs and pictures, Keegan Gerhard from Food Network Challenge basically admonished us for not interning at his bakery, awkward, Jacques Torres was very aloof but that could be the Frenchness) but I verbal diarrhea-ed with all of them! And I had to see them repeatedly over a few hours which made it awkward...

  77. I'm a 51 year old woman, been a stay-home mom for about 20 years, went back to school last year, like to stay in my house and read blogs, I write a blog (actually 2), and I KNEW EVERY NAME IN THIS POST. Even my kids call me a geek.
    You are in good company. And my name is Jen.


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