Here is a great reason why people like me should never meet famous people: we can't handle it. Would you like to hear a story about me being a fool? Of course! Who wouldn't?
Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson just waltzed into our bookstore to sign books. Yes, authors do this all the time. They just walk through the doors like humans, on two legs and everything, and they ask to sign their books. Usually I'm too starstruck to do much more than let inane things dribble out of my mouth, and rarely are they coherent. They resemble the formal greeting "So nice to meet you! We appreciate your time," but land somewhere else entirely, in The Valley of Um. But this time takes the cake. Background first: I grew up reading Dave Barry's books. My parents had them on the shelves, and my little brother and I would snatch them and read them aloud to each other, usually until we lost the power of speech and just lay on the floor, convulsing with spasms of laughter. We would repeat the jokes (usually the inappropriate ones) at parties, and our parents would blush and shush us while other parents tittered. We loved these books so much that my parents actually have a photo on the fridge of us reading Dave Barry's Greatest Hits. My brother still wants to be a stand-up comedian or comedy writer. So Dave Barry was a very important figure in my childhood. Now back to the present: I walked up to a staff desk, where two normal-looking guys with a big stack of books were standing. I opened my mouth to say, "Can I help you?" and instead, I did that fish-mouth thing where you keep opening and closing your mouth while no words come out. Because the normal-looking guys were decidedly un-normal, they were the aforementioned Pearson and Barry. Quick on my feet, I realized I should say some words, something like "I have always loved your books, Mr. Barry." I would regale him with the cute stories about my brother and I, and he would laugh, and we would go out for tea and become lifelong friends. Instead, I literally burst into tears. Trying to be an adult, I walked away, dried my face, and went to stand awkwardly next to the desk, smiling and nodding at the very normal conversation he was having with another bookseller. I tried English again, but it was no use. He cordially gave the books back to us and left, and I regained my voice long enough to say a strangled and whispered "thank you," before bursting into tears for a second time. When a coworker asked why, I said, "It's like meeting Santa Claus." I can't explain it. It just is.
Why on earth am I telling you this? Because I am secretly hoping that you are Dave Barry, and when you read this, you will remember the trembling, pale girl at the desk, and you will have the moment I wanted you to have, which was a moment of basking in the adoration of a lifelong fan.
P.S. I realize I should plug my idol's books, right? Those fantastic dudes were here touring for their new children's book Escape from Carnivale, and signed copies of their two other books for children, Peter and the Starcatchers and Peter and the Shadow Thieves, as well as multitudes of their own books for grown ups.