I used to work in an art supply store - think of it as Empire Records with paint brushes. It was this weird golden period of time where all of these awesome humans collided and spellbinding magic happened. We’d play video games in the basement (during work hours), draw all shift, have Taco Bell shitting competitions, drink beer on the clock, and party with each other after. It was so fucking wild that the night after my first shift I kicked my boss in the balls, but that’s another story. I could write a screenplay about this period, and you’d love it: “It’s Empire Records meets Ghost World”. (Coincidentally, everything I write is Something meets Ghost World).
We used to get this customer who would occasionally come in for pens and sketchbooks. I don’t know if he’s famous famous, but I’ll give him Canadian famous. I didn’t listen to his music, but I knew who he was. Anyway, one night I was on a first (and last) date. While my date was busy chatting to the bartender whom he was friendly with, I drunkenly scanned the establishment for something to do. Lo and behold, Canadian-famous dude was alone, nursing what looked to be a whiskey.
So I ambled over to him and plopped myself down at his table. “Hey, I know you, you buy art supplies at my work!”
What happened next was a whirlwind of pleasant small talk, swiftly followed by a stern cussing out by the bartender. Apparently I wasn’t allowed to talk to their celebrity customer. We had to leave. The incident put a damper on the already kinda lame date and left me feeling shitty the next day. I’m totally used to people telling me I’m behaving terribly in public. I often get shushed, stern looks of embarrassment, and “Larissa, put down the vodka and stop trying to finger my mom under the dinner table it’s making everyone uncomfortable”s. But I really didn’t think that what I had done warranted getting kicked out of a fucking bar.
The following weekend at work, who should waltz into the art store? Canadian-Famous Bacon. He strolled right up to me and said, “hey, just wanted to say thanks for sitting with me the other night. I was feeling pretty down and you really brightened my evening.”
WELL FUCK YOU, BARTENDER! I was, like, SO vindicated. That was the only time I’ve been shamed for having the audacity - as a mere unfamous simpleton - to talk to anyone ‘famous’. So what happened the other night came as a rude shock. I still don’t get it, but I guess I wouldn’t.
What’s a fangirl? Am I a fangirl? Yeah, I kind of am. And so what? I get excited about stuff that I like, and being vocal about it has actually made me some pretty fucking rad friends.
But there is a line, apparently. A deep, well-worn, but totally unseen (to the fans) line differentiating fan and artist. Are actors even artists? Sure, I guess I’ll buy that. I don’t even get all that excited over actors, or even remotely excited if I actually think about it. It’s the creators that get me hot under the collar. I don’t cry and twist my nipples, but I might jump up and down super subtly if I meet someone that makes shit that I’ve seen/read. And what’s the big deal anyway? Don’t people like genuine compliments?
The other night a friend of mine had a show at this awesome little comedy place, let’s call it the Uptight Civilian Pavillion. The shows are funny, everyone is nice, it’s a good time all around. I’m not a “comedy person” - unless you’re talking 80s/early 90s comedies (Oh my god! Is that the guy who played the baby in Look Who’s Talking?). My thing (have you been paying attention?) is horror or anything that falls into the realm of the awful/weird/fantastic. So, although I recognize many faces, I mostly have no fucking idea who they are. However, on this particular night, they had a guest who I was all too aware of. Why? Because he stars in a show I’ve been watching for, oh, seven seasons. It’s not my favorite show, but I totally enjoy it and am definitely a fan. Let’s call him Sir Deathsalot.
My friend brought me backstage and introduced me to Sir Deathsalot. Naturally, the first (and last) thing I said was, “It’s nice to meet you. I’m a big fan of the show, been watching it since it first aired.”
Although Sir Deathsalot said thank you, the moments during and after my words, the room was filled with prickly static electricity. I had broken a rule. I had broken the fourth wall. I wasn’t one of them. I WAS A FAN. IMPOSTER! GET OUTTA HERE! My friend hung his head and sort of mumbled something about me being his sister, then quickly ushered me out. What had I done?
“Not cool,” my friend said.
“I told you not to geek out.”
Had I geeked out? Isn’t an “I like your work” the handshake of this town? I thought people here loooooved to talk about themselves. I guess not. I had outed myself. I actually watch and like someone’s work. Ew!
My friend later coached me on how to casually slip it into conversation so I don’t look like a turd-lick, but I assured him it (most likely) wouldn’t happen again. Now I know. I will try my best to keep an aloof, casual demeanor and remain totally disinterested. I’ve been practicing my hair-flips and eye-rolls all morning.
Let this be a warning to the rest of you: BE COOL OR BE OUSTED.
I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.
*BELOW: Image demonstrates how to be cool.