I have a confession. I’m not good at recognizing people who are considered “famous.” Ugh. I hate that word. Maybe “well known” sounds better. Nope. Well, you know what I mean. When I met Wil, I had no idea who he was, even though Stand By Me had been my favorite movie when I was in high school. It even came out ON my birthday and I went with a group of friends to see it, yet I didn’t know it was him. Wil and I had been hanging out together for 3 weeks when my brother was the one who filled me in on this little piece of information.
There has been the very rare occasion that I see someone and silently lose my shit. Once was right after Wil and I started dating and he took me to some award show (I think it was Screen Actors Guild awards) and I silently lost my SHIT when Harry Connick Jr. walked in front of us. The other time was meeting Nathan Fillion and as you can tell from the blur of my hand that I was flailing in excitement, I was a little enthusiastic about it. I think it works in my favor to not recognize well known people because I just have normal conversations with them, but sometimes it freaks Wil out because I’m just saying whatever comes to mind to someone while he looks like a deer in the headlights at my conversation.
A few years ago, Wil was asked by his friend, Cory to go to some award ceremony for him. Cory had been nominated for an award and couldn’t attend, so he asked Wil to be there to accept on his behalf if he won. Wil was silently losing his shit because it was Cory Doctorow and it was for a Nebula Award for “Little Brother” while I was being a clueless girl who was just excited to put on a fancy dress and have a night out with my husband.
When we arrived at the award show, Wil looked really nervous. When I asked him why he was so nervous, he looked looked at me with terror in his eyes and said “This room is going to be FILLED with some of my favorite authors. This is an opportunity of a lifetime.” Uh oh. I suddenly got nervous that I was going to do the ‘ol “open mouth, insert foot” maneuver I’d mastered over the years. I decided it was best to be polite and keep conversation light and minimal to avoid a catastrophe.
When we walked into the room, an older man worked his way over to us. Wil nervously chatted with him, completely forgetting to introduce me, then excused himself to get us drinks. As I stood there nervously, the man asked if I was an award presenter, jokingly saying I “looked too good to be the date for any of these chumps” as he scanned the room with his pointed finger. I laughed, then told him I was married to Wil, and that Wil was here in case his friend won an award and needed to accept it. As Wil was walking back to me with drinks, they announced to take our seats, as the ceremony was about to start.
The MC was a HILARIOUS man who started out by sharing a story I can’t even remember now, but all I know is I once again didn’t recognize him, and most likely made an ass of myself talking about who knows what to him after the ceremony ended. I do know that as we left for the evening, I found out that man was Chuck Lorre who does a little show called “The Big Bang Theory” but I hadn’t started watching the show yet, so I’m giving myself a pass on that one.
Wil’s friend did not win that night, so he didn’t have to go up to the podium to accept the award in front of all his author crushes. After the ceremony was over and people were mingling, Wil had gone across the room to talk to someone he knew, and left me alone. The sweet, older man Wil hadn’t introduced me to earlier came over to talk to me. He had a woman with him who I think was his wife, but it’s been a long time so I can’t remember. He introduced himself as “Larry.”
Larry started talking about Wil but it wasn’t until he mentioned how much he loved him on Star Trek that I realized he was doing a bit of the fangirling himself. He was talking to me about Next Generation, something I didn’t know much about because I hadn’t watched it (and still haven’t) but I did watch the original series with my dad when I was a kid, so I talked about that. Honestly, my memory of that series was from the perspective of a 5 year old so I didn’t have much to offer other than Captain Kirk looked so much like my dad when I was little, that I used to think that was my dad’s job when he left for work each day. I was treading in unfamiliar territory so I knew I needed to steer the conversation back to the lighter side to prevent making a total ass of myself.
I asked Larry the typical questions you’d ask, oh say, your mailman. “So, do you have any pets? Do you live locally? Did it take you long to get here?” That’s when Wil came over, looking a bit surprised that I had been carrying on a conversation with someone he was silently nerding out over. I didn’t want to ask this Larry guy what he did for a living because I felt like it would have been an insult that I didn’t recognize him or even worse, that once he told me what he did, I wouldn’t know what it was.
As the night wrapped up and we headed out to the car, Wil asked what I was talking about with Larry. “Well, he brought up Star Trek and when I told him I never watched Next Generation, he giggled. But basically, I just made the usual small talk, like if he lived locally.” Wil stopped in his footsteps. “YOU ASKED LARRY NIVEN IF HE LIVED LOCALLY?!” his horrified voice echoing through the empty parking garage. “Uh, yea. Why? What does he do?” I said cautiously. “WHAT DOES HE DO?! HE’S ONLY MY FAVORITE AUTHOR WHO WROTE MY FAVORITE BOOK WHEN I WAS GROWING UP!” Wil looked stunned as he was unlocking the car door. “It’s called Ringworld and it was such a HUGE influence on me when I was growing up. It’s the reason I love science fiction so much. Oh my god, I can’t believe you asked him if he lived locally.” “Well, look at it this way” I said, trying to reassure him. “At least I didn’t start talking about how funny it is to me when I see adults fall down or laugh so hard I accidentally fart in front of him. So, I got that going for me which is nice.” Wil was not amused.
That was the only time I’ve ever encountered Larry, the sweet, nerdy old man who loved Star Trek, who I now know is an author. Fortunately, two years ago at San Diego ComiCon, we had the opportunity to meet George R.R. Martin, so I kind of felt like I redeemed myself from the Larry incident by not asking George if he lived locally or had pets. George and Wil sat down together at George’s request, to go back and forth asking each other questions. Wil could ask George about Game of Thrones, then George wanted to ask Wil about Stand By Me. The mutual nerding out at each other was adorable, and I stayed as far away from it as possible. If anyone was going to be saying or doing anything awkward, it wasn’t coming from me.