How to meet famous people
So on Monday I got to meet the writer
It isn't only that I admire Dave as a writer -- though, of course, I do, with
He also was the key guy behind "The Jump" section in
This came up, briefly. He somehow figured out that I'm a sportswriter -- I can only imagine that an assistant mentioned this since I, as will become apparent, did not -- and in a kind effort to connect he mentioned his early work with
Truth is, I have absolutely no idea how to engage famous people in conversation. This is also true for semi-famous people and also, you know, not-famous-at-all people. Basically, I'm not all that great with strangers and real conversation. I mentioned here before that my wife Margo and I have seen
She says: "But you're a sportswriter. You meet famous people all the time."
This is true. What she fails to realize even after all these years is that I, like many journalists, have a very different persona when I'm working. Journalism is like an excuse, a personal freedom, to ask
To illustrate this in the clumsiest way possible: I have a sportswriter friend who -- long story short -- found himself chasing an unwilling and somewhat hostile interview subject through an airport. He had to get a comment from the subject, and for similar reasons, the subject had to get away without giving a comment. Both men were playing their roles -- subject walking away and saying "no comment," reporter battering him still with new questions. Finally the subject wheeled on him and pleaded, "You know I'm not going to answer your questions. Why do you keep bothering me?" The sportswriter pulled out a photo of his family and said, "
Point is, I'm terrible in real-life encounters with famous people. Sometimes, for bizarre reasons, I get interviewed, and I am sometimes asked the, "If you could have lunch with one person in history, who would it be?" question. I never know how to answer that. Other people come up with great responses, like they've really thought this one through. "Hmm,
But I suspect if I ever
The conversation with Dave Eggers did not go quite this awkwardly but that was because I was with my buddy
Dave Eggers said: "See, I don't know what Rhapsody is." Seems that Dave -- and I would not have expected this -- has sort of stripped down his life as far as technology goes. He said he does not have Internet at his home, for example. I don't know, this just cut against my image of him*. I figured he would be mega-plugged in. Anyway, after saying he did not know what Rhapsody was, Dave then gave me an opening to participate in the conversation, which as you will see, I boldly and aggressively accepted.
In other words, I was able to play the, "See, this guy is dumb too," role in the conversation. And I was proud to do it.
I should say here that this inability to speak to people I greatly admire is not exactly nervousness. I don't really get nervous talking to people anymore. The last time I
No, I would say my issue with talking to famous people is more about my relative inability to do small talk --
So, anyway, the Dave Eggers conversation went really well. No, I didn't really get to tell him how much I admire his work, didn't happen to mention that I specifically came to San Francisco to meet him, didn't talk to him about world events or get any great details or gossip about all the writers and famous people he knows, didn't ask for advice how to start our own literacy charity that Margo and I have been working on for a couple of years, didn't talk to him about what comes next, didn't really accomplish much of anything. I did tell him that I had only a vague sense of what Rhapsody is, though. I figured that will stick with him.
And I left with the solace that if it had been