Last week I met an idol of mine, the author and columnist Mark Dapin. Mark is tattooed, Jewish, and an ex-editor of men’s magazines, which makes us similar in at least two ways. He is hysterically funny, and uses lots of asterisks in his writing, a technique I have appropriated as my own*. He is also quite famous, as far as writers go, which meant that I was very nervous to meet him.
You see, I do, as a rule, become immensely stupid around celebrities. It’s a problem. Though I can be normal** around non-celebrities, I am staggeringly awkward around the famous. My mouth feels peculiar and I blurt out inappropriate things and my limbs don’t know what to do with themselves. It’s like I ceremonially debase myself before the celebrity as a gesture of my respect. Or perhaps I’m just a blithering idiot.
It’s happened to me many times before. When I met the (Jewish, non-tattooed) author Lily Brett at a book reading, I became overcome with excitement, putting up my hand and asking her a question that I was afterwards reliably informed made absolutely no sense. Lily kindly attempted to answer it anyway, but the look on her face revealed a wary compassion clearly usually reserved for stalkers and the insane.
My run-in with Toni Collette was equally tragic. I found myself in a lift with her at Westfield one day, along with my two older children, who were chatting excitedly about getting home to watch Toy Story 2 on DVD.
“How are you watching Toy Story 2?” Toni asked. “It hasn’t been released on DVD yet.”
“We got it in Fiji!” my son yelled with glee. “It’s a fake but it still works!”
Toni looked at me with reproach.
“Oh, we never usually get pirated DVD’s!” I started babbling desperately***. “It’s just that the kids saw it and they really wanted it and I couldn’t say no and I’m so sorry and I don’t mean to destroy your industry and I’ll never do it again and I understand it’s really wrong of me and...” at which time I noticed that Toni had exited the lift about three floors earlier and I was prattling away to myself.
Then, memorably, there was my encounter with Nicole Kidman. I was with my husband and our friend J in a cafe, and Ms Kidman walked in and recognised J from school. Now, I wasn’t a fan of Nicole Kidman, and yet still I became an irrepressible moron. I tried to smile but my face went the wrong way, my eyes started twitching, and when I attempted to say ‘Nice to meet you’ it came out ‘Nimyeoo’. Happily, though, I believe Nicole just thought I was drunk.
So my encounter with Mark Dapin was, by comparison, far less embarrassing. I gushed and I rambled and I raved and I even offered to show him my tattoos, but still, I managed to speak, and at least I didn’t confess to owning any pirated software.
I did, however, blurt out ‘Nimyeoo’ when we parted. But, unlike my farewell to Nicole Kidman, in this case, it was a Mark of respect.
*as I demonstrate here.
**using ‘normal’ in the sense of ‘normal compared to exceedingly abnormal people’
***though we’d just brought home about 25
Originally published in the AJN