When, after all the special VIP ticket holders had gone, I presented my copy of Angela's Ashes for him to sign, I noticed he looked a bit tired. "Does answering the same questions over and over and signing books for hours get old?" I asked. "Or are you still having fun?"
He peered up at me from his seat at the table, his smile crinkling at the edges of his eyes. "Of course it's fun! What else is there?"
I loved him for his answer. He was tired, sure. He'd been feted by literary bluebloods and won the biggest prize in literature. Yet here he was in Nowheresville, thoroughly enjoying the moment.
A trio played Celtic music in the lobby for the event. My job as a committee member done, I sat down on a sofa to listen to them. Mr. McCourt settled himself next to me. A few other committee members joined us, and for almost an hour we listened to a fabulous impromptu performance. We sang along to "Albert Mooney" and clapped our hands, keeping time to reel after reel.
While I was on the committee, I got to meet Amy Tan, Norman Mailer, Edward Albee, Dave Barry, and other amazing talents. They came, they spoke, and they left. I enjoyed what they had to say, but not nearly as much as just hanging out with Frank McCourt.
"You shouldn't meet your idols" is a truism that I've had proven time and time again. I'll never forget meeting the person who embodied my Very First Celebrity Crush -- a crush that lasted most of my teenage years -- only to discover that he could only function when perilously inebriated. When, later at the same event, he remembered me and went out of his way to say "hello," I regretted ever meeting him. Sloppy drunks turn me off.
Still, there are some people I just *know* I would enjoy not only meeting, but hanging with. At the very least, I'd love the opportunity to prove myself wrong. I wish I could take credit for this blog post idea, but I must credit Buzz Feed's David Stopera for his awesome "50 People You Wish You Knew in Real Life" that got me thinking about my own list of people I'd love to hang with.
In no particular order, my list would include:
1. Whoever Programmed the Website this Guy is Looking At
Imagine seeing the world around you through such a filter!
2. The Person Who Invented Jousting Peeps
Because I love anyone who has never outgrown the desire to wage war with candy.
3. The Amazing Alycia Burton
She looks like she and Classic Goldrush have so much fun together. Watch her ride. See what I mean?
4. Anyone Who Has This in Their Living Room
If you decorate with dog crates, I know your family includes more than one species, and that makes us kindred spirits.
Plus, it means you won't judge me for having a St. Bernard that often doubles as a footstool. Or a couch.
5. Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado
I have had the pleasure of meeting, working with, and spending time with many amazing riders and trainers, including Olympians and industry legends. But none impressed me with their love and respect of horses more than Frederic and Magali.
I have seen Frederic walk into the stables after a performance -- the horses chilling in their stalls, ignoring the passersby with their VIP badges that allow them backstage access. But as soon as Frederic enters, he's like a magnet and the horses are iron. They are drawn to him in a quiet, primal way. As he walks down the aisleway, every equine head turns toward him and follows his progress, each horse hoping for some precious time with him. He never lets them down. His connection to his horses is a thing of exquisite beauty, both onstage and off. It is not an act. It is real.
I was privileged to spend a day with them a few years ago when they were in Quebec, touring with Cavalia. I was on a short list of writers they were considering for their book, and I wanted the job in the worst way. Sadly, my French wasn't up to par; they wanted someone they could converse with in their native language. But I was so honored to be a part of their lives for just a single day. I would *love* to be able to do so again.
6. The Person Who Knows What These Cats Are Saying
Because they won't think I'm weird when I translate for my dogs.
7. FoodSnots.com's Camber
Five words: She created S'mores Monkey Bread.
Plus, every recipe on her mouthwatering blog is fantastic. Every. One.
I bet if we hung out, she would occasionally let me taste test something she made. Nuff said.
8. Kevin Richardson
I've never seen anyone who *gets* that life is a grand adventure to be embraced instead of feared more than he.
9. Darren Criss
Ok: 1:49 - 2:13 of this performance.
No, it's not because he's supermegafoxyawesomehottt. That's my husband, as far as I'm concerned. And it's not because he's both the perfect Harry and the perfect Blaine. It's not even because he's a California kid who chose to go to University of Michigan to pursue his acting dreams.
It's because he's more fearless than many performers twice his age and because he appears to be happier than anyone else in show business. (Honestly -- when was the last time you saw a musician smile for a photo?) He genuinely seems to be having so dang much fun on every second of the ride his life is on. I bet he's a blast -- and, really, who wouldn't want to spend time with someone who has this much energy?
10. Anyone Currently Following a Dream
I love hanging with people who know what they want and who are working on making it happen.
I've met people on the way up, at the top, and after their star has begun to fade. Without exception, the ones who are the best to hang with are those who remember that every step of the journey can be as fascinating as reaching their destination -- I bet that's you, isn't it?
Keep on keeping on!