Here are two stories that happened at different times and are unrelated. Except that looking back on them, I was able to make a comparison.
In which I meet Alex Trebek:
I’ve been a fan of Jeopardy since I was a kid. Someday I will be on the show, and I will win all the money. So far, the only chance I’ve had to prove myself was back when I was in college and Jeopardy tryouts came to Sacramento. Nobody wanted to (or was able to) go with me, so I headed down to some random mall that I’d never been to, and stood in the very long line while reading my book. I looked up when the crowd got excited, and there was the host of Jeopardy himself, Alex Trebek. He had a small entourage with him, and they were walking the length of the line waving at people and shaking the occasional hand.
When he got to my section of the line, he stopped. I was still holding my book, but I was watching. Then Alex Trebek said “I love your hair!”* and grabbed my head, cradling my face in his hands. I was bewildered. He briefly removed his hands and said “wait, can I?” I gave a small nod, along with the continued bewildered face and now a little concern. Someone snapped a picture (which I never saw the result of, btw), and Trebek continued on his way. The crowd around me erupted, and said things like “Alex Trebek just touched you!” and clamored to be near me as if my greatness would rub off on them. I replied “No, Alex Trebek just grabbed my head. That was weird.” But they didn’t care. I was a celebrity by proxy.
The crowd calmed down, the line moved on, and I returned to my book. Eventually there was another uproar because Trebek was walking by again. This time people were asking him for an autograph. He replied “sorry, I don’t do autographs.” I was feeling cocky, possibly because Trebek unknowingly did a vulcan mind-meld with me and gave me some of his ego. I strutted up to him and said “Mr. Trebek, can *I* have an autograph?” HE OBLIGED. When the other people that had been denied threw a fit, he said “well she’s special. ” ALEX FREAKING TREBEK CALLED ME SPECIAL. And so, I still have my Trebek-ograph. Not because it will be worth money someday, but because it comes with a helluva good story.
And here, for the non believers:
In Which I meet Doug Llewelyn:
The former voice of The People’s Court does a lot of work with the Flat Rock Playhouse, and thus, my boyfriend. As a result, I’ve met Doug Llewelyn several times. In fact, he is one of the only people that has not remembered meeting me. Shoot, even people that don’t actually get introduced to me remember seeing me around. (The rainbow hair and tattoos kinda make me stand out.) But that’s not the point of this story.
I hang around the playhouse enough that, as I mentioned, I’ve met Doug on multiple occasions. Enough that he no longer asks “We’ve met???” when my bf says “Doug you remember my girlfriend, des.” I’m not sure if now he actually does remember me, or if he just acts like it. But at a recent opening night party, I met Doug yet again. He stopped by to talk to my bf about a project they were working on, and as he walked away he saw the large tattoo on my shoulder. (My fancy dress was strapless, so even though that tattoo is always a little bit visible, it was really like BAM! that night.) He reached out to touch it, which is never ok with me, possibly because of the aforemementioned Trebek experience. But here’s the important part – he stopped himself. His hand never made contact with my skin, even though he really really wanted it to. I could see the internal struggle. He almost lifted up his other hand to stop himself.
And then he walked away. I was a little shocked. I’ve found that a lot of people find it perfectly acceptable to touch a stranger’s tattoos, even though I am NOT one of those people. And because of my previous brief encounter with a minor celebrity, I assumed that he would be all like “I’m Doug Llewelyn. I can do whatever I want.” But he didn’t do that. He may have even had a few drinks in him** (after all, it was a party) but he still restrained himself. And for that, Doug Llewelyn wins out over Alex Trebek.
*My hair was red and curly at the time. Picture Little Orphan Annie, but with fire-engine red hair instead of natural ginger.
**DISCLAIMER: I know nothing of Doug Llewelyn’s drinking habits and am definitely not making any accusations, excuses, or assumptions.