Why I'm A Terrible #Curling Fangirl

Fame is weird, eh?

I've met a number of musicians and curlers over the years, mostly in autograph lines. Sometimes they are grumpy, sometimes arrogant, but mostly they are friendly and appreciative. It's always a bit awkward, what do you say? Hey, great concert? I totally love your new cd? Great game today? I'm a big fan? Good luck next game?

I'm not a good fangirl

I love Jim Cuddy (of Blue Rodeo). I once had a chance to watch an onsite interview in the same room which probably meant I would've gotten to talk to him and get a photo with him etc.

And I turned down the offer.

I've been backstage at a curling event, where curling rockstars are hanging around. I've had a few small talk type conversations with curlers. I once talked to Russ Howard about tea and timbits. I told John Morris we were out of chocolate milk.

Yet when Kevin Martin visited the club where we were holding the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships at last spring I hid in the office. I only got this (awesome) photo because @1CathyC dragged him into the office to meet a big fan.

I'm scared of talking to rockstars.

There, I admitted it. I've been thinking about this ever since I got the first volunteer newsletter from the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. In February I will once again get to hang out with not only the best curling staff and volunteers, but with rockstars from across the country. And I'll be too embarrassed and shy to say hi.

Indulge me as I tell you why I don't talk to "famous" people.

I used to work at a store in the World's Biggest Mall, West Edmonton Mall, here in Edmonton. This was way back in the day before my second career, before the London years, before my first career, during my undergraduate days. I worked at La Senza - think Victoria Secret but with more flannel pajamas because it's Canadian. It was just another minimum wage job that went towards university tuition.

The benefit to working in a famous mall is that famous people often came to shop. I helped news anchors. I once sold dozens of flannel pajamas to Ryan Smyth's wife because she was holding an Oilers wives sleep over. I once rang through a purchase for Jeff Martin of The Tea Party. Yes, his eyes are just as intense in person. I once told Ashanti that no, she couldn't have a 50% discount on pj pants that were already on sale for $10 because she was famous (like she couldn't afford the extra $5, and no her rather large security dude didn't scare me).

Once a figure skater came in. She wasn't quite famous, but was on the verge of fame. At that time she was a nobody, unless you followed figure skating. I used to be a huge figure skating fan (about as big a fan as I am of curling now), but then my embarrassing story occurred, followed by the whole 2002 Olympic gold medal block judging scandal, and now I can't stand to watch it. I make a point of not watching figure skating at all. Except I really like Battle of the Blades, where hockey players are paired with figure skaters and then the public votes etc.

Back to my then unknown figure skater. Shortly after this incident she gained national fame. She might've even gained international fame after that, but I stopped following remember. Now she's on Battle of the Blades, and was on last season as well. And that's what's got me thinking about this story. Every week I watch the show on CBC and see her skating. And I don't cheer for her, no matter who her hockey player partner is.

Right. So she comes into the store shortly before the Canadian national figure skating championship of whatever year this was (she was practicing locally at the time) to buy bras. As I'm wringing through her purchase, I casually said "Are you so-and-so?" Yes. "Cool, I'm a big fan. Good luck at nationals!" Great. Thanks. And she left. Pretty tame conversation eh? Exactly what a huge figure skating fangirl would say in that situation? I totally thought I might've made her day. She was a nobody, she probably never got recognized. Yay me for being nice to a not-famous person who I looked up to because she was part of my favourite sport!

A day or two later there was an article in the newspaper in which she was interviewed about how she was about to launch her career to a new level at the upcoming nationals. They asked her if she was starting to feel like a famous athlete. And she said something like "Yes! I can't even go buy bras without getting recognized!"


I was mortified. How embarrassing!! I said something nice to a nobody-about-to-become-a-somebody and she ruined it. How dare she think she was a somebody, the only reason I knew who she was was because I was a huge fan of the sport. She was no Kurt Browning, that's for sure. It bothered me that she was so arrogant, and that she tainted the nice thing I said by taking it totally out of context.

She ruined the fangirl in me.

Maybe you think I'm overreacting. Looking back, I did probably, but at the time I was embarrassed about being called out in a public forum by someone I (at the time) looked up too. I was young, naive, impressionable, lacking in self confidence. She made me feel like a stupid redneck fool.

Whatever. I vowed to never again give a famous person the chance to think I was an idiot. I would never again give a famous person the chance to embarrass me.

So that's why I can't talk to rockstars. I know they're real people who just happen to have a cool job. I know they're mostly nice and down to earth and appreciative of their fans. I've even superficially chatted to a few of them on twitter. But until I can think of something not stupid and inconsequential to say, I'll just blend in with the background, and watch from afar.

Stupid figure skating.


  1. I hear you. I don't usually like to go up to celebs unless I have an interesting in, or I think they'll appreciate the attention (or if it would make for a cool photo opp).

    One thing to consider, maybe the story writer misrepresented what she said. Maybe she just said, "funny, I was at so-and-so and someone actually recognized me!" and it got turned into the infamous quote.

  2. Hmm, good point. It was so long ago, stupid how it still bothers me.

  3. I'm with you, Lisa. I totally can't talk to rock stars. Living in Toronto, I have pretty good opportunities to run into celebrities around town (including my own neighbourhood). My tack is usually just to pretend I don't recognize them. So much better than what one of my friends does, saying "Is that so-and-so?!" in not much of a whisper. (How embarrassing!)

    I have a few experiences that have equally contributed to my shyness (in addition to my natural shyness):

    - I went to high school with someone who joined a band that became quite famous about the time we graduated. A year later I was at his concert and my friends made me get his autograph afterward. And of course he recognized me. And asking for his autograph just seemed so inappropriate. He was sweet about it, though. Now some of my friends have friended him on Facebook, but it seems they just want to be his friend because of his fame.

    - I was at an author event featuring Robert Kroetsch. He had long been one of my favourite authors. He sat right beside during the event when he wasn't up on stage. I totally froze, and couldn't say a word to him. He probably thought I didn't know who he was.

    - A few months later I was at a book signing by Michael Ondaatje, before he published The English Patient and really made it big. I stood in line and chatted up his wife, explaining how I had read all of his books and was studying his writing in one of my courses. As soon as I got up to him, again I froze and couldn't say anything. Someone else had to tell him my name so he could do the signing!

    - Wanting to make up for my past shyness, a few years later I went to an Ondaatje reading and picked up a copy of his hot-off-the-press book of poetry The Cinnamon Peeler to have him sign it. When I finally got to the front of the line, he took one look at the book and roared out "Where did you get this?!?" It turns out the book store at the reading was not supposed to be selling the book until the next day. He hadn't even seen it yet. Oops.

    - In the same year I picked up a copy of a Margaret Atwood book. Again, I stood in line to have her sign it for me at a reading. When I finally got to the front of the line, she opened the cover to sign and....discovered she had already signed it. Gah!!!

    So I just decided from there on that I would not seek out celebrity autographs. Well, I did stand in line to have Ken Dryden sign his book as a gift for my brother. And you know what? That was a perfectly lovely experience. He was so nice and he really wanted to chat with everyone even though there was a huge line. I think it helped that I wasn't a big hockey fangirl.

    I dream of the day when I can meet some of my favourite singers, but the fantasy usually takes place long after their stars have faded so that they seem more like regular folk to me. :)

  4. Connie, those are great stories! I love that I'm not alone!


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