We’ve all done it: imagined running into a celebrity we admire and respect, armed and ready with some charming repartee that will burn our likeness into the mind of said celebrity forever and ever, amen. In the dream, we’re also dressed to the nines, glowing, and smell really, really good. We don’t imagine wearing a grandma sweater, sweating profusely and squeaking out a few quietly incomprehensible words. Oh no, we don’t imagine that at all.
Over the weekend, my husband and I went shopping for his new mountain bike, a carbon thing that will send him rocketing off the mountain at lighting speed and cause me to worry about his well-being every time he dons his helmet. We had to hang out in the tiny, narrow shop for over an hour while they changed some parts around and upsold him on pedals and seat levery stuff. I was pretending to be interested in something called “Bike Pajamas” when a guy squeezed past us to check out some bags in the back with the owner, Simon. A moment later, I heard a voice that made my ears perk. I turned to my husband, wide-eyed. “Robin Williams is here!” I whisper-shouted. And then, without skipping a beat: “I’m going to go and talk to him!”
Hey, I’m no wallflower. My husband shook his head a little, as if to say, “Give the guy a break.” But I saw my opportunity and I rushed right in to take it. Trouble was, I didn’t think about what I was actually going to say. Once Robin made his way back up to the front and began chatting amicably with Simon, I casually inserted myself into the scene and said, “Hello, Mr. Williams, it’s so nice to meet you.” You know, as if he had already introduced himself to me and I was merely returning the courtesy. “I’m a big fan.” I’m sure he never hears that one. “Can I be really annoying and ask for a photo?” Way to point out the fact that you’re being really annoying. Because you are.
He was very gracious, took off his big, black sunglasses and swooped his arm around me for a photo. Now was my chance to say something that would make an impression, something profound and funny and effortless to seal the deal.

“I saw you on the street last summer in New York. And you had a crazy beard.”
I could have said, “Your stand-up is so fantastically off-color.” Or, “Dead Poet’s Society changed my life.” Or even something harmless like, “What are you up to today? Going to hit the trails?” But nope, I made a comment about his personal grooming habits. Because really, isn’t that the best and most obvious choice when you’re hoping to impress a famous person?

Hey, at least I didn’t do this: “This one time, I stuck my head next to Robin Williams’ head and took a picture where he’s not looking but he was so nice and friendly and didn’t mind at all. And, and, and, Robin Williams!”

He was very kind and took my strange comment in stride, informing me that the beard in question was for the play he was performing in last year. I managed to say a couple of normal things along the lines of, “I hope you’re enjoying Vancouver.” And then it was over. My chance at verbal brilliance lost like a Betamax tape of The World According to Garp.
Well. Maybe I still smelled good. Here’s hoping.
Have you ever had a celebrity encounter? Were you dressed to the nines and cool as a cucumber? Slightly flustered? Or did the nonsense tumble forth like an unbidden fountain of verbal embarrassment? If not, who do you hope to meet? And what do you think you’ll say? Do tell.