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Thursday, February 21, 2008

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Number One Fan

Here in the morning
things sure look different
You are still beautiful—
I am all gone.

—Bruce Robison, "Go to Your Heart"

This is a photograph of Bruce Robison, one of the greatest country songwriters alive, taken last night at a local nightclub. I am actually in the photo, to the right of Bruce, but if I show it to you, you will know what a blithering dork I can be.

Oh wait, you're reading my blog. You already know about that.

Remember last summer when I bumped into Mary Steenbergen, and explained why I find it weird to talk to strangers I admire?
It must be so strange to be famous, to be on the receiving end of that sense of urgency people feel when they run into you. To meet people all the time whom you know nothing about, yet they feel connected to you, perhaps significantly. You might have been part of their first date, the naming of their child, their Mom's funeral, but the current doesn't flow both ways.

Okay, there's that, but I left out how weird those lopsided exchanges make me.

Someone that normal people might be starstruck by—say, Brad Pitt—could have walked up to my table last night and asked for a light, and I probably would have told him to shush and wait for the break, because this song? Made my husband cry when I put it on a mix for him during a really rough time. And the one that has all the sweethearts slow dancing makes me ache with every unrequited love I never had. And this next one makes me think of my little band of brothers at home and imagine them out on the town together some night years and years from now.

Sit down, Brad. Go away.

But what happens when one of my girlfriends taps someone like Bruce Robison on his Levi's-clad back and sends him over to talk to me? My brain short circuits and trips over into free association mode, and random stuff starts coming out of my mouth. I try so hard to avoid all the fan cliches, that I just start grasping at things. "You write music!" I inform Bruce. "You have children!"

Locked in a supply closet in the back of my brain, my better self starts banging her head on the door.

"You live in Texas!" (Texas. Texas. Think. THINK. Kerrville is in Texas!)

"Ever play Kerrville?"


Here I prattle on about the Kerrville Folk Festival, to which I have never been, and know nearly nothing about, for several long minutes, during which time the real me looks for something to ram her way out.

"I'm not much of a folkie," Bruce says politely. "I'm more into Johnny Cash."


At this I panic, and attempt to restore my credibility as a person who knows something about country music.

"Have you ever been to Ireland?" I squeak.

My best hope now is that a beer bottle will come sailing through the air and knock me out cold.

I insist to Bruce that he must tour Ireland, where he will be bigger than Jesus. I promise him that the Irish government will open its treasury to him and hand him all its Euros, and I vaguely intimate that I "know people" and might be able to hook him up with, well, Ireland and its country music loving people.

And then?

I hand him a card with my blog on it. Passport to the world, baby.

Far down my winding & twisted neural pathways, I can still hear weeping.



Blogger Geoff Meeker said...

I know of what you speak. Don't even ask me about the time I met Leonard Cohen face-to-face, in a crowded banquet hall at the top of Mount Royal...

11:30 AM  
Blogger Gypsy at Heart said...

Ay Kyran, your post made me laugh so much. I too know what it is to regress mentally in front of someone famous. You didn't do so bad yourself trust me. How lovely you got to meet him though. I don't think I've ever heard his music but I will look it up. You have a nice day.

2:19 PM  
Blogger jennifer h said...

I don't get at all goofy about meeting actors or celebrities. But well-known authors? That's my weak spot.

Bruce probably spent the better part of the morning reading your archives. Really.

4:45 PM  
Blogger HRH said...

OMG...I am laughing so hard I can hardly type...

8:42 PM  
Blogger Jennifer/The Word Cellar said...

I think I'm going to call this CDS: Celebrity Dork Syndrome. (The term "celebrity" is malleable here. Any stranger you admire attains celebrity status in your own mind.) CDS: Meet celebrity, become dork.

I once saw David Sedaris up close and personal, away from crowds and available for a real conversation. My mind melted and I just kept on walking, terrified of trying to be witty and smart and worthy of a dialogue. A similar thing happened to me at BlogHer when I met some bloggers I've admired. I talked to them, but think I may have been a complete moron in the process. The two alcoholic drinks I had didn't help matters, either.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Jonivan said...

Ha! your awesome.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Tom said... this the guy who is married to Kelly Willis? Man, dude is in way over his head.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Upside Up said...

to hear that even you succumb to the "can't talk intelligently to idols" syndrome makes me feel better. i lived in nyc for 6 years. around the corner from uma and ethan, and matthew and sara-jessica. worked upstairs from debbie harry. passed lou reed and laurie anderson while i walked to work almost every day. yet i never spoke to a single one of them for fear of losing my cool. at least as a silent admirer, i still had the potential of being cool.

*love* your scarf, though.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Jessie Light said...

hi.. i check in on your great blog every now and then and was so surprised to see this today! i am friends with someone in austin who is friends with bruce! so i immediately called him and told him about the blog and he set about calling bruce or emailing him to tell him to look! i think bruce is fantastic, too! especially My brother and me! and your experience reminded me of the time i met greg brown and felt like a blithering idiot! (you should check out HIS music!)
jessie from colorado

3:13 PM  
Blogger LDiablo said...

I can relate. My own latest post explains my dilemma of whether I'm a Bruce groupie or stalker. I've had numerous occasions to talk to him and usually it's a very brief "hey, Bruce!" and he answers back "Hi, how ya doing?" in a very polite way, or a "Thank you." if I've commended his performance.

Admittedly, I've asked a couple of times about a favorite song and he goes into that evasive, vague songwriter mode who doesn't want to really talk about it and would rather leave the listener to take what they want from it. I'm just too danged literal (aka dense) for that. But I usually just nod politely and say, "Oh."

Stop by sometime - I don't post often, but much of what I post is Bruce related. Guess I'll have to settle for No. 2 fan.

- LDiablo

9:22 PM  
Blogger cce said...

LOL.Reminds me of the time I stood in an elevator with Bono and The Edge for a good five minutes. In silence. I could find nothing, nothing to say. Thank God I remained mute because I was so under the bus after way tooooo many drinks that my lips would have uttered some sort of slurred and irredeemable idiocy that I'd still be cringing about. At least now I am content to think that they may have appreciated the silence.

6:08 PM  

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