Question: Why is sex on TV bad?
Answer: Because inevitably someone falls off and gets hurt.
Okay, so that isn’t entirely relevant to this post, but now that I have your attention…
Question: Why shouldn’t you put people on pedestals?
Answer: Because inevitably, someone’s gonna fall, and you’ll both get hurt. In another striking similarity, the whole situation is just painful for all involved.
I’m on an online dating site (yeah, yeah, get over it, you’ve likely been there, too). One day I came across a profile of an attractive, deeply interesting, clearly talented singer-songwriter who seemed to be either a professional or semi-professional musician. Wow! As a pianist/composer myself, I generally connect well with and am very much interested in female musicians… and this one lives nearby me, too! In the back of my mind, I was thinking… hmm, there’s something oddly familiar about this woman, but no matter. People often say I look familiar, too; ‘sthe way of the world. And the Bay Area is a surprisingly insular, small place in many ways, complete with highly overlapping Friend circles.
Pushing beyond any self-doubting and/or procrastinatory tendencies, I wrote her a friendly message, mentioning that I’m a (admittedly mostly lapsed) musician, that I enjoy going to music performances, and I’d love to catch a show of hers sometime, yadda yadda. Then I hit send.
Of course, it was immediately after that that the nagging familiarity and curiosity got the better of me. A few Google / Google Image searches later… kablam! Holy crap, not only is she a famous artist, but I’ve attended her performances before. Rightly or wrongly (almost certainly the latter with the benefit of hindsight) I felt like a total dolt, and wrote a quick followup message saying as much. “OMG, can’t believe I didn’t recognize you” blah blah blah, “so embarrassed!” blah blah blah.
She never wrote back. Gee, that’s a surprise. Who likes being put up on a pedestal, raise your hand! No, no, not who loves the idea of being placed on a pedestal, but rather… who is already on one who isn’t damn sick and tired of the nervousness, the (in)sincere adulation, the awkward conversations, and so on? I’m going to bet… not a soul.
* * *
Once again, in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have gone out dancing that night. Sure, it’s convenient — just a mile from work, and a 10 minute drive home from there. Sure, it’s like that TV sitcom bar Cheers, where everybody knows my name and is (usually, I hope!) glad I came. And yeah, admittedly I’ve found that — even when I’m in a pretty rotten mood — I’m better off lindy hopping than staying home and sulking.
But this night was different, I suppose. I was cranky, klutzy, and generally a touch on the asshole side of sarcastic.
I decided to sit out a few songs and just take in the fun music, wait for a song I was guaranteed to gel with, etc. Immediately to my left turned out to be some warm, good smelling pizza that was not mine. This made me even more cranky, and perfectly primed to be a jerk when the owner of said food returned to claim her edible booty. Yeah, she looked like a regular… couldn’t place the name, but I know I’d seen her before, probably danced with her. Why not give her some crap?
Me: “Hey, you bring enough for everyone?”
Me: “Clearly not. Well, fine, you’ll just owe me a dance later then.”
Let me interrupt this to emphatically note to all aspiring & current social dancers that the above is…
- Not a good pickup line
- Not an appropriate way to fill your dance card
- Not even remotely amusing
As I said, I was cranky, and clearly in a non-witty frame of mind.
Her: “Oh! Sure. But I have promised this dance [to person she's pointing to]. May I dance with you later?”
Me: “Of course, as long as you wash your hands after eating the pizza first”
(Even then, the realization hit me that I was by this point indubitably being an ass)
Surprisingly and undeservedly, she caught me later and asked me to dance. Just a few moments in… whoa… look at that styling!!! Okay, dammit, think… think… where do I know her from? And why on earth did I stubbornly bypass the standard mutual-introduction ritual at the beginning of this dance? (probably because I was too embarrassed to risk an, “Adam! We’ve danced for the last eighteen weeks and you’ve forgotten my name again?!”)
By this point, I was definitely realizing that something was amiss. Okay, somethings, plural.
- She was far from the beginner I initially mistook her for.
- My dancing was getting worse, not better throughout the course of the evening and sadly in particular throughout the course of this seemingly very long song.
- I didn’t know if she was actually bored, but I sure wasn’t taking advantage of any of her amazing creativity, and if I were her, I’d have been bored stiff.
At the end of the dance, I finally asked her for her name. And then it was all I could do to avoid literally slapping my forehead. As it turns out (yeah, I’m sure this is a shocker), she’s not only a highly experienced lindy hopper, but an internationally renowned one.
I know now that that glimmer of recognition was likely from watching many of the dance videos she’s in online, including ones from major competitions she’s aced.
I started to profusely apologize, but then caught myself. I’d be even more of an asshole, I quickly and surprisingly realized, if I was super-nice to her now that I figured out she was a “celebrity” of sorts.
And indeed, my remaining shred of smart intuition at that moment served me well. We chatted for a bit after the dance, and she even filled me on where she was dancing next and didn’t seem in the least bit offended by my unwitty growliness.
If anything, she was perhaps delighted that — for once — someone didn’t recognize her on the dance floor, someone was asking her to dance without knowing of her status and fame. She might even have been pleasantly amused that someone was being a tad jerky rather than obsequious in a first meeting with her.
* * *
Was this entire blog post simply an excuse to post two random not-keenly-connected AdamAnecdotes? Possibly. I wouldn’t put it past me.
But I instead prefer to think of these as humorous-but-cautionary tales, with handy directives and really good morals. Namely… Do not put people on a pedestal. Everyone craves genuine connection, and it’s hard to connect when you’re down here and they’re up there. And everyone is a multi-faceted human being, much more than the sum of their [movies / competition wins / etc], and they’re probably fed up with always having people chat them up about the obvious “famous” stuff, especially when they just feel like unwinding and being, well, a regular person.
Obvious? Sure. But just wait until you’re face to face with Justin Bieber Vanna White 42 Cent Alan Smythie and see if you aren’t reflexively inclined to dumbly blurt out, “I loved you in…”
Just say no. Practice ahead of time. You never know when you, too, will end up on a surprise allegorical date with a supermodel!
P.S. – You can probably piece together the identify of these two famous women. Please, for the love of dog, be kind and don’t mention either of their names in the comments. I’m embarrassed enough as it is, and there’s no need to make them embarrassed, too. Thanks