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I don't get the obsession with celebrity. I have been trying to think of any famous person that I would just completely lose my shhh-tuff over (ohai, mom). Name your biggest, sexiest, richest movie star, rock star, whatever, and I would probably not say a word to them if they were right here in front of me. There are more than a few that would get a smile, or maybe a polite nod - some might even get an eyebrow pop, and an extra long glance of appreciation when they're not looking. But the truth is, I treat anyone this way just walking down the street. I am just polite, friendly, and I respect peoples' space.
There are a handful of notable people I might legitimately geek out over, just a bit - Stephen Colbert and Neil DeGrasse Tyson come to mind. If I had the chance, I'd love to hang out and chat. But I really cannot picture myself getting all giggly and hyperventilate-y over them. Or anyone for that matter. Seriously. President Obama? "Leader of the Free World?" Oh-ho, you better sit down, buddy, 'cause I have words for you, sir. That would be my greatest stress (outside of the retinue of Secret Service staring me down) - trying to condense my opinion down to the handful of moments allotted under such a meeting.
For most people, though, under most circumstances, I don't think I'd say a word. I know some celebrities like to be acknowledged for their work, but I don't think a one of them wants to be accosted non-stop by rabid fan-girls and -boys who think they have some right to this person just because they're famous. I cannot think of anything I have to say that is so important that I would interpose myself into a complete stranger's life at the most inopportune moments. Especially not for my own gratification. If I felt truly compelled to speak to someone, I'd apologize for the interruption, offer my appreciation (or whatever) for their work (or whatever), and then I'd leave them the hell alone. I wouldn't ask for an autograph (that is another thing I do not understand). I doubt I'd ask for a picture. It would be pretty close to the level of interrupting someone to compliment their hat.
So what is behind the cult of celebrity in our culture? Why do people think that these celebrities are something greater than mere human beings? And, more importantly, why do they feel they have the right to unfettered access? I understand that these famous people are familiar to us, in a distant sort of way. I've run into my small share of famous people, and it's jarring at first. They are the familiar stranger. There's a weird kind of intimacy. But you know their faces they way you know national monuments you've never been to but have seen all your life. They are like the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty. And you can read all the books you want, look at all the pictures, the movies... but you don't know the place till you're there.
But the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty are things that we are all, on some level, entitled to. Celebrities are not. They are just people. They have their public professions, and they have their private lives. Paparazzi and the like will argue that celebrities want to be gawked at and photographed and interrogated. I call bull pucky! Yes, some people want to be famous for the sake of being famous and popular. I think even those people have their limits, though. But whatever the percentage of reluctance for for fame for any given celebrity, it does not change the fact that the rest of us have no inherent right to their life story.
I did not appreciate the level of ferocity of the paparazzi until I was nearly mowed down by three of them in pursuit of Paris Hilton. At the time, I was working as an assistant manager in a movie theatre in West Los Angeles, so I made a point of informing the other managers on duty that we had a VIP guest, so that we could keep an eye out for any inappropriate behavior from fanboys or paparazzi. As soon as I announced this, however, one of the other managers bolted for the door. Apparently, she was a huge fan. I could only shake my head.
As I write this, Moby's "Porcelain" has just started playing overhead. (I think this is the second time I've mentioned him in a blog, come to think of it). I guess this would be the one celebrity I would probably introduce myself to were he to wander into this coffeehouse. Because Moby - I think I do owe a word of thanks to him.
After all, Henry and Oliver are just a little bit his fault.
There are many things that had to happen for my boys to exist. First and foremost, Greg and I had to celebrate certain holidays irresponsibly. But go back farther - our parents had to meet, had to hook up... the Big Bang had to do some banging, too... All things had to happen as they happened for the world to exist as it does with our boys in it. We had to make all the decisions we made throughout our lives - including the decisions to get on moby.com and sign up for the message boards that were once hosted there. That's right - Greg and I met online. On Moby's website.
And before you accuse me of hypocrisy, you should know that I am not a "fan" - not because I don't like his music. After more than a decade, I still cannot seem to get "Play" out of my car, no matter how many times I take it out of the CD holder. But I am clearly not the fangirl type. He had (has?) an amusing blog, and it was before Facebook. That's my excuse.
So, while the ending of apartheid in South Africa may still have been necessary for the world to manifest in such a way that Greg and I would meet in time to have our two beautiful boys, Moby would be a more direct catalyst for their existence. For that, I would take the time to say thank you. If I thought he'd get it, maybe I'd even send him a little card with a family pic (not the one with the handsy Santa Claus) and the brief tale of our unusual courtship.
Either way, I would still not freak out. Because I am not a fan. I equate "fan" with "fanatic." But I do appreciate his work. I guess I am the un-fan.