Admit it, you’ve got one…everyone does. That one person you secretly wish you could meet. The person whose music, books, movies or sports prowess inspires you like no one else. The person you grew up DREAMING of being like, marrying, or just hanging out with. So what do you do when that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes along and you get a chance to meet them? Here are just a few tips to help you get through it without hyperventilating. (Remember, I speak from experience.)
1. Prepare to be slightly disappointed. No celebrity can hope to live up to the image we have of them in our mind. When my son met Michael Jordan I remember asking him if “His Airness” was everything he hoped he would be. He said that he was, but I got the distinct impression that there was something he wasn’t articulating. Finally I figured out what must have happened and I said, “You figured out that he was just a man, didn’t you?” My son’s eyes grew wide and he nodded. “That’s it!” he said. “He’s amazing and he can fly and all of that, but at the end of the day, he’s…human.”
2. Remember that they haven’t waited their whole lives to meet you. This somewhat piggy backs on Tip Number One. Some celebrities are better at the meet and greet than others. Dick Clark for example, had a knack for acting like I was his best friend in the world. Gene Simmons generously gave me his time and stood for as many pictures as I wanted while others aren’t as enthusiastic. It just sort of depends on their personality, but try not to take it personally. You are not the first person to tell them how much you like them and you won’t be the last. Accept the moment for what it is and enjoy yourself.
3. You will feel like a complete dork afterward. It’s OK. When you have only 30 seconds to tell your idol everything you’ve ever wanted to say, chances are that you will pop off with the first silly thing that comes to mind. When my son met Jordan, the first thing out of his mouth was “Where did you get your shoes?” (Seriously) Now…while that COULD be construed as a pretty stupid thing to say…it DID cause MJ to come over and ask the boy to repeat it and then they had a short conversation about footwear. My son later asked, “Wasn’t that dumb?” I told him I wasn’t so sure about that…there were 2,000 kids there all hoping for a little one on one time with Jordan, so the real question is did my son say something stupid enough to get his attention, or smart enough that it GOT his attention?
4. There are VIPs and then there are VIPS. Believe me when I say there is a difference between the two. I’ve met a lot of VIPs: Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, Oprah, sports stars, TV people, other musicians, authors, etc…but then there are the VIPS whose status transcends themselves…like….The Pope. When I met Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2006, shaking his hand was bigger than big. I was touching a man whose position connects him with the very beginnings of my faith. A few years later, my son had the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama and when he came home from that event, I casually commented, “It felt different than MJ, didn’t it?”
He grinned and said “Oh yeah…it’s the position, it’s the office, it’s the history….” Meeting a VIP leaves you feeling like you are connected to something larger than yourself as opposed to the “get” of meeting someone you personally like and admire. (BTW Chris is the guy in red.)
5. Enjoy it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. They won’t remember you, but you will never forget them. Take the time to memorize every word that is spoken, don’t be shy. If you have the chance to ask for a picture or an autograph, then do so. You’ll regret it if you don’t. Chances are they had someone that they really wanted to meet too and they understand that feeling.