People on Pedestals: Just Say No

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.

*  *  *

Chapter 1

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.

*  *  *

Chapter 2

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?”
Her:  “Uh?”
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 🙂







10 responses to “People on Pedestals: Just Say No”

  1. Nithin Jawali Avatar

    Over here we call it, putting one on the spot.  All too familiar.  Thanks for sharing.

  2. ThatAdamGuy Avatar

    Ah, interesting! And “putting someone on the spot” here in the U.S. has a different meaning entirely. I imagine that this — along with other idioms — could certainly create some cross-cultural confusion!

    Anyway, thank you for stopping by and commenting 🙂

  3. righini Avatar

    as usual you have your unique way to open your feelings in your diary, thanks for sharing! I did not find the word “delusion” in your post, but that would have been the word with the highest frequency if i’d had to write it.

  4. ThatAdamGuy Avatar

    Interesting, righini! Why Delusion? (and thanks!)

  5. righini Avatar

    well probably because of the amount of expectations that i put on top of every action that i do :-). Also there is a funny coincidence between love (even online) and work. In both a silence means a “no, i’m not interested in you”, but you don’t know how much time you should let pass before giving up the hope in an answer. That’s why i respect a lot who sends a short note with a clear message, they help me fix my expectations in a more realistic way!

  6. thurmannews Avatar

    I have bought the full package for Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended. I
    loaded the disk a few months ago and my serial number worked.

  7. Koozai Mike Avatar

    I find as well that when networking, people prefer if you speak to them on the same level, rather than acting as if they are superior. It creates a bad dynamic whereby they won’t want to speak to you, if you appear unequal.

  8. ThatAdamGuy Avatar

    Completely agree Mike… especially having been on both extremes of the comparative “levels.”  Thanks for the post.

  9. Patricia Muller Avatar

    Hey, Adam. Always such a pleasure to read your tales… I think part of it too is that there’s a fine line between feeling admiration for someone and behaving in that way we think that admiration should come across (maybe even based on how we believe the other person expects to be approached, given a certain level of “stardom”). I think everyone appreciates being admired for who they are or what they do, regardless. But when that becomes the defining factor of how you start your relationship with people, then I agree with you completely: you don’t allow the connection to flow and I love that you pointed out how you can never create that connection when you’re down here and they’re up there. Very insightful..

  10. ThatAdamGuy Avatar

    Patricia, thanks for the note!  I’m really happy but not surprised to see that you totally get what I’m talking about here.  

    And I agree with what you’re leading to here — that the communication from admirers may be well-meaning and even perhaps thought-out.  But, yep, when the admiree is defined (or perceived being defined) solely by their fame, then there’s really no hope for a human connection.

What do you think?