And now, a story from the big book of “Awkward Moments with Anne”

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.





42 thoughts on “And now, a story from the big book of “Awkward Moments with Anne”

  1. My husband is a journalist and can talk to people when it’s related to work but God forbid we’re at a Con, he has to ask me to walk his Monkees Headquarters album over to Micky Dolenz to get it signed. Boys are fun.

  2. When I meet you and Will someday (Dear god of the geeks, please make it so!), I promise I won’t ask if you live locally. Now, I can’t promise I won’t be squealing like a girl inside.

  3. Ha, that’s brilliant. I suppose it really must be refreshing for someone so well known in their field to be able to chat anonymously like that. I imagine you must have people being excited to meet you nowadays (I know I would be, lol), which must feel strange? xx

  4. My friend has a story about working at Comic-Con. She was doing crowd control out front, basically telling people not to walk in the street. One guy separated himself from the crowd and walked away from her in the street, and my friend kept yelling at him to get back on the sidewalk. He basically ignored her and she got pissed off.

    Someone in the crowd told her that that was The Incredible Hulk. It turns out my friend was yelling at Lou Ferrigno, and he probably couldn’t hear her yelling because he’s hard of hearing. It being Comic-Con, my friend was the only one in the crowd who had no idea who Lou Ferrigno was.

  5. I don’t think you’re awkward at all. You’re treating everyone like normal people. That’s awesome!

  6. Anne you are awesome and I think it is great that you can carry on normal conversations with famous people, I totally can’t. If I were to meet you or Wil or Marlowe, or Jim Parsons or Steven Moffat or a slew of other famous peeps I would freak. I would try not to but if I got to meet Patrick Stewart or George Takei I would lose it.
    Just last night I was working the concession stand at my college basketball game, because the employees thought they didn’t have to show up I guess. And I was waiting on a whole group of people after halftime, which is the big rush time for us concession pros, well I was completely fascinated by this old British guy because who doesn’t love old Brits and its not like you see them often in SC. Well as I was talking to this guy I was waiting on other people, one of which happened to be the school president, unbeknownst to me. So instead of completely sputtering out my words and looking like a complete idiot I continued to act like he was no big deal, and continued to ask Ole British Dude like 50 questions.
    After the majority of the crowd had left as well as British Dude, the president was still standing there so I asked him if I forgot part of his order, he said no but then asked me about my major, if I enjoyed school, etc. Right when we were finishing our conversation he asked if I knew who he was, I said I’m sorry but no. He said that was alright, good in fact. He gave me his card and said it was refreshing to be treated like a human being by a student. After he walked away I proceeded to freak out and I tried to think back if I did anything that could possibly get me kicked out of school. So far no expulsion letter has been in my inbox.

  7. Reminds me of a story from my mother – not in freaking about not knowing someone who was famous but actually knowing someone and not having a clue they were famous. My Grandfather was a flight instructor during WWI (yes, the First WW, not a typo) so he knew a lot of the early pioneers of flight and was always taking my mother and her brothers to air shows in the 1920s and 1930s since many of his old friends were performing. When Will Rogers and Wiley Post were killed in Alaska in 1935 (coincidentally on my mother’s 14th birthday), she didn’t make the connection that the man who she had known all her life as Mr. Wiley was Wiley Post until she saw his picture in the newspaper report of the plane crash. The same thing happened to me (while I was working at a PGA tournament) when Mr. Sam, the guy who used to go fishing with my Grandfather, walked by with a golf club instead of a fishing rod in his hand and was golfer Sam Snead.

  8. But you got to meet Larry Niven! And it sounds like he was a nice Gentleman. Otherwise He could have harrumphed at you and stomped off. If I was there I probably would have asked a dumb question like “Where did you come up with the term Threshing?”

  9. In your defense, I don’t know anybody (myself included) who would recognize their favorite authors on sight, let alone their hubby’s favorite childhood author.

    Oh, and friendly tip: if you happen across a “Misty” at one of these author events, don’t ask her about pets or animals unless you’re ready to start an hours long discussion on them (she’s to birds and horses as you are to dogs and cats).

    To be fair, I’d give the same warning about you. 😛

  10. Larry Niven is a very nice guy! I’m sure enjoyed talking with you. I get flustered talking to actors, but for some reason I always enjoy talking with authors.

  11. You are just as funny as Wil i wish i had discovered your blog a long time ago. Have you been on table top or are you?

    1. Anne’s blog is fairly new, so you can probably get through her archives in one sitting. Also, Anne has a “move” named after her from her famous (or is it now “infamous”?) guest appearance on Table Top… again, you’ll need to look through the archives – it’s in S1.

    2. I’ve only had a blog for about 2 or 3 weeks so you could probably read everything I’ve written in one sitting! I did an episode of TableTop last season and the next one I did will be airing on January 23rd. Woohoo!

  12. That was the sweetest thing I ever read! You both are so real and genuine! Thank you for sharing!

  13. You could have just as easily substituted awkward with graceful, or poised under pressure. We could all learn a thing or two from these encounters and how we should all treat each other as real people.

  14. I have two “awkward” moments to relay. Both happened in “normal” places, not awards ceremonies or anything “big” like that.

    The first was chatting up Kato Kaelin in line at the Toluca Lake Trader Joe’s – we talked about anything/everything, and I mentioned that I felt like he was one of my friends whose name I couldn’t remember – maybe he was famous, and I just SHOULD know him? To which he laughed and told me his name. My husband and Kato’s girlfriend were both facepalming nearby.

    The second was a silent losing my SHIT while outwardly doing everything in my power to not scare your husband out of his place in line at the credit union. I said polite things about his blog and his guest appearances on Eureka and BBT, as well as mentioning that I LOVED Wesley Crusher. He was polite back, saying something to the effect of “you’re very kind” but I could tell if I lost my SHIT there that he would be very frightened of me. I don’t have any anxiety issues (why should I? I’m not famous) and can be overly “large” around people that I enjoy. I’m sure if I were to meet you, I’d be too big, and then you’d run away as well!

    1. That is so cool! I go to that Toluca Lake Trader Joe’s all the time and I’ve never seen Kato there. DAMN!

      1. I used to live in NoHo and would walk to that TJ’s with one or two shopping bags after I had walked to the credit union, so I’d have a four-plus mile walk, with banking and groceries. I’m currently in NC but trying desperately, no, earnestly, yeah, that’s it, to get back “home” – it may not be NoHo, altho that is our fave ‘hood.

        (And I am now silently losing my SHIT because you responded to me, LOL)

  15. When it was growing up, my parents had a group of friends they would get together and party with on a semi regular basis. I used to sit and chat with a guy named Larry at these get togethers. I don’t even remember specifically what we talked about, but I do remember that he was nice enough to not treat me like a kid, and seemed genuinely interested in whatever banality I’m sure I was sharing.

    Years later, I read “Ringworld”, and realized that the Larry I had been hanging out with at those parties was THAT Larry.

    So, nice to know I am not alone in my dorkiness! Also, I can assure you that Larry Niven was probably very happy to be chatting with someone about where he lived and if he had pets.

  16. I’m reading this, thinking you’re really charming. And I would have the same feelings you do. My husband is a retired journalist and he’s interviewed famous people. He often doesn’t know who they are until someone tells him. Or, he simply doesn’t care who they are and then is really the best person to do the interviewing.

    Many years ago in a city far, far away he owned a store where a certain knighted british invasion pop rock god would shop regularly. And he didn’t give one flying frack. And I am, a decade after hearing that factoid, still absolutely fangirly aghast. Hubby was more into The Who than pop music. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? And who, you might ask yourself would he have gone fully lose-yo-shit crazy over? Lee Marvin stopped in one time. (he was in some old westerns and military dramas… I guess…)

    So I’m sitting here, thinking about that and about last year when Scott Land sat down with me and spent more than 45 minutes happily regaling me with stories about filming Team America: World Police while I giggled uncontrollably inside, and a good bit outside. And took many selfies. And I realize that while I have real life friends…you and Wil are so much like real people I continue to read your blogs as though you’re just other friends on my facebook.

    And then if you happen to be in the same bookstore as me someday, I will totally lose my shit.

  17. I very occasionally met Famous People by giving them their tickets in a box office. I’ll never forget Holland Taylor looking at me in confusion when I couldn’t find her ticket . . . because I was looking under the name of a character she’d played. However! I did recognize Margrethe Cammermeyer from across the lobby so I get points for that one.

  18. My parents were friends with a Dutch couple, whose son used to date Heather Mills. The couple didn’t particularly like or get on with her (his mother thought he could do better, and used to ask why he couldn’t manage to find a girl with *two* legs…!) but some years later she invited them to her wedding. (Frankly, we reckon she was hoping to rub in their faces how much better she’d done for herself!)

    The father found himself at the bar during the wedding reception, chatting to a man he didn’t know. He asked the usual small talk stuff like “So, what do you do?” And the man replied that he was a musician. “Really?” asked our Dutch friend, “…and can you manage to make a living out of that?!”

    “Um… I do ok”, mumbled Paul McCartney.

  19. Excellent to hear from you again. As you might have figured out, you are in a really neat unique position. Having Wil as a partner, you get to go to some cool stuff and participate. The cool part is that you have found time to share these experiences here. A conversation that I ahs with my students last fall centered around reality TV (Duck Dynasty in general)and they were amazed at how little I knew about it. I told them that I was too busy living life to spend time watching others. Don’t feel to bad about not recognizing authors, I spent a half hour talking to John Scalzi at Gen Con a couple of years ago (His family lives about twenty minutes from our house) and didn’t know who he was except he was really into gaming. Probably would have sat there talking all afternoon until his wife Krissy came up with a really devilish grin, grabbed him by the ear and drug him off to some panel he was late for. I had only been reading “Whatever” for several years. HER I recognized! Probably for the best, I would have squeed like a little girl. Here is the thing, have fun with it! You get to be kind of like Lois Lane. Most of these folks don’t expect to be recognized, they aren’t usually. Chat them up! AND have fun writing about it!
    We’re listening,
    P.S. I f you meet Harlan Ellison at one of those events (and you might, he lives in Sherman Oaks) watch out! He is a lady killer!

  20. I’m pretty much like Wil if I meet people I admire at events or conventions. I think about beforehand what I’m going to say but when I’m there in front of them, everything goes away and I babble. I really hate that but I guess they are used to fans behaving like that.

    Sometime in the early 90s I went to see the Blues Brothers Band live. I was one of the first through the door so picked a spot by the sound board (because that’s where the best sound is and the venue wasn’t that big so you could see the stage well) and there was this moustachioed African American guy wearing a Marshall t-shirt and Fender cap talking to the sound guy. He then came over to me and we chatted about music and things for at least five minutes, just like I would with other people at a gig. I thought he was another member of the crew and didn’t even twig it when he excused himself and said he needed to go to work. I just assumed he was working on or behind the stage. I only recognised Mat Guitar Murphy when the gig started and he appeared on stage…
    I’m also quite sure he was quite happy that someone just chatted to him as if he wasn’t anyone famous.

  21. OMG! Your husband is hysterical. He should do stand up if he hasn’t yet attempted! There is Nathan being all suave and serious (and “ruggedly handsome”) and Wil is cold photo bombing the pic with that crack-me-up expression! I literally spit out my cheerios!

    I do know I’d lose my shit too if I met Nathan. He’s that perfect balance of mature and immature and handles his business well.

    (Wil I’d lose it w/ you too. I mean I am a huge TNG fan and contrary to the scene in s7e10 of bang, I had zero problem w/ your character)

  22. Hi Anne, new reader here and I just adore your blog! This was a sweet story (even if Wil was a bit put out about how your conversation with Larry went. It reminds me of a story my husband tells from way before we met. He was working with a friend hauling river rock. On this particular trip they were delivering river rock for a driveway. The owner of the home, an attractive young woman, said she wanted to be sure they had brought real river rock because the crew who had laid the original driveway had used the wrong rock. There were sharp pieces sticking up all over rather than the smoother pebbled surface she had wanted.

    My husband and his friend explained that it wasn’t the rock that was wrong but the installation. They said that all river rock has both a smooth side and a pointy side and apparently the installation crew laid the rock improperly. She didn’t believe them and they offered to show her, pulling some rock out of the dump truck and letting her see it for herself. When she still wasn’t convinced and wanted to climb into the dump truck’s bed, Hubs helped her up and let her examine multiple pieces.

    Later when they’d finished up and left, he learned she wasn’t just an attractive woman. She was Nicole Kidman!

    Thanks for your blog Anne. I’ve loved reading about you and the boys on Wil’s blog but it’s very nice to hear your “voice”.

  23. Being from Indiana, I don’t get the chance to meet/see any famous people in person, unless it’s at a con when I know they’ll be there. Which is how I was able to randomly run into your husband at Gen Con over three years ago.

    I believe it was his first Gen Con, and he had asked the readers of his blog to bring dice, so he could show the world that nobody could own too many dice. (By the way, how’s that working out? Did you have to build a separate room for the pile?) 🙂

    On the first day of the con, my husband and I were wandering the vendor’s hall before it closed, getting a feel for the layout of the booths. As we walked down an aisle, I noticed a bearded man speaking to some vendors about their game with one or two other con-goers listening and talking nearby. I literally stopped my husband and said, “That’s Wil Wheaton!” We had a short discussion about whether I should go up and say hi, because I mentioned I had a die for him, and I almost didn’t do it. We have friends on the West Coast, so know what the trip from there to the MidWest can be like. I didn’t want to bother him if he was jet lagged. I also didn’t want to spoil Wil’s time in the vendor’s hall, since he probably wouldn’t get much of a chance to do the con stuff while there.

    Then, I saw one of the attendees nearby hand him a die, and he accepted it graciously, and I decided that was my only chance. He was very kind when I walked up and handed him my die, and we spoke very briefly, so he could go on with what he was doing. I was almost eight months pregnant at the time, and we commented about that (because I was probably the only pregnant woman there, and I was as big as a house. I was wearing the “Tweet of Tweethulhu” shirt–in maternity size–and he said he liked that I was incubating my human behind an Elder God. That’s a comment you don’t soon forget.). 😉

    Anyway, I walked away on cloud nine, because I was able to meet one of my favorite celebrities/authors in person. I was even more impressed that he remembered me later. I had to give my DVD of “Stand By Me” to some friends in line for his autograph, because I was too pregnant to stand in that line for very long. They asked him if he would sign the DVD and explained why, and he told them he remembered our conversation from the day before.

    Sorry this was long, but thought I’d tell you that your husband’s appearance that year was the highlight of the con for me. He was so gracious and kind, and gave a great speech about gaming with your children. I hope he enjoys himself when he goes to these cons, since he has to do “work” stuff when he’s there, usually. It’s authors like him and Neil Gaiman who have inspired me to write, so it was great to meet one of my favorite authors in person. Neil Gaiman is next on the list….

    And, by the way, you should think about writing a book. You’re a great writer, yourself.

  24. I met Larry a few times in the 80s – his writing partner Jerry Pournelle is from my hometown, and they were guests at our convention several times. Just a funny, warm guy. Having been involved in cons for years, I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to meet several of my favorite authors and artists through the years and more often than not managed to keep from inserting foot firmly in mouth (just don’t ask about that time I presented Larry Elmore a Magic card to sign, only to have him point out it was actually by one of the Hildebrandt brothers…)

  25. Just discovering your blog Anne and like it.
    Am I crazy or are you wearing the same shirt in both the Nathan and George pictures?

  26. I love the part of the story where you tell about not knowing who Wil was despite Stand By Me being one of your favorite flicks. It reminds me of the story of how Brad Paisley had seen his future wife Kim in Father of the Bride and FotB 2 and thinking how great she was. Then when he had to do a music video about it he insisted that Kim be cast even though he didn’t know anything about her. From there romance just fell into place. Glad you and Wil have found that too in your lives.

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