Wednesday, June 06, 2012

How To Make An Ass Out Of Yourself In Front Of Ray Bradbury In Three EZ Steps

 (Image via The Guardian

I worked briefly for Barnes and Noble in the 90s in their B. Dalton store in San Diego's garish Horton Plaza. For some reason, celebrities were drawn to this dinky store, and I met a lot of well-known authors in my short time working there. One day, Ray Bradbury (R.I.P.) came in the shop, and... it didn't really go very well.

I noticed a somewhat elderly gentleman kind of aimlessly wandering through the store, so I asked him if I could be of assistance. He said, "You sell my books here." I asked him which books those might be, and he declared, "My name is Ray Bradbury." (So that's step one: fail to recognize the world-famous author.) I then mortified the beloved scribe further by thoughtlessly offering, "Oh! I used to love your stuff when I was a kid!" (Step two: imply the author's work is juvenile, something you have outgrown.) Then, for some reason, perhaps in an attempt to be sympathetic after my dumb comments, I added, "You know, I really think Star Trek: The Next Generation ripped you off with their holodeck." (Step three: remind the author of people stealing his ideas.)

Ever had one of those days when you just can't seem to say anything right?


sfmike said...

I went to a lecture by Bradbury in the early 1970s at Santa Barbara City College that was wonderful. When the hour was up, he was having such a good time that he just moved the Q&A session to a lawn outdoors and hung out for another three hours.

Still, I would never have recognized him in the 1990s or later if the photos I've been looking at of him in his later years are any indication, so don't feel bad. Loved your other inappropriate comments, though. It's never a good idea to start off with "I loved you when I was a kid..." to any celebrity.

dianegsocialist said...

Oh, no! Sorry you had a bad brush with fame! I kind of dread meeting famous people, because socially awkward me will almost definitely say the wrong thing, given the opportunity.

On the other hand, I don't think "step one" should be counted against you.

Peteykins said...

I seem to have a talent for spotting celebrities when those around me don't notice. When I first started working at the NGA, for instance, I was constantly spotting them, and then when they left, I'd point it out to my coworkers, and they never, ever noticed them. People I sold postcards to included Diane Keaton, Max von Sydow, John Lithgow, and I also spotted, but did not interact with, Jake Gyllenhaal and Steven Spielberg. In each case, I was the only one who recognized them.

The Cat's Meow said...

I ran into Ken Howard a few weeks ago outside Ford's Theater during the recent revival of "1776." I'm pleased to say that it was one of my best celebrity encounters ever. I didn't say anything stupid, and it was a most pleasant and erudite conversation. This almost never happens to me, so you have my sympathies on the Bradbury front (although not to speak ill of the newly deceased, but it sounds like he was less than gallant). The nicest celebrity I ever met, bar none, was John Cleese. How is it that no one around you recognized the people you've named?

Peteykins said...

They just... didn't. People simply don't pay attention to their surroundings.

I met John Cleese! He came into my office at the gallery, because he and his wife wanted to leave their coats somewhere, and our VIP tour guide knew we'd be thrilled. He was very pleasant to chat with.

The Cat's Meow said...

Cleese: Completely, utterly, inexplicably charming and.... normal. So unlike the crazy man on the screen.

Partick said...

I said "Hi Flip" to Nipsy Russel in the airport. The LOOK I recieved was a quick indictment on oh so many levels.

The Cat's Meow said...

Oh, God, that Nipsey Russell story is hilarious.

Anonymous said...

In the 60's a friend of mine and I volunteered to escort and drive Ray around town while he was visiting our college to give a lecture.

We had heard that he didn't drive because of an accident when he was 16.

He was friendly and avuncular - we had a great time hanging out eating and just talking about everything.

A great man, to bad he got so conservative toward the end. Or so I read. He wasn't like that when we met him though.

First Doc, and now Ray - sad.


Suzan said...

Great stories on this blog!

Just wish I had had that kind of luck with him. Bad or not!

I did flirt with Tom Conti in Paris once upon a time, but that was a gooood story . . . .

And I spoke with John Updike at length once . . . who was a perfect listener and curious about me.

So there's that.

But I'd have killed to meet Bradbury.

Thanks for the remembrances.


Christopher said...

I have no internal name-face recognition software, especially when it comes to famous people. I can count on one hand the number of famous people I've seen on the street. And I have lived in DC, NY and SF. In fact those less than 5 times, they were all pointed out by others.

As a kid in the 1980s, my hometown near Chicago was home to Tom Hulce's brother and his family. So he'd regularly be spotted in town shopping. My friends and I all worked in the little stores in town and we'd call each other as he moved around.

The only celebrity that I've ever spotted on my own was Joey Lawrence. We played video games together at Disney's Contemporary Resort in Florida some time around 1985.

z7q2 said...

I met Emily Hubley at a Yo La Tengo show at Maxwells and totally fan-girled her in front of Ira and Georgia. It was embarrassing.