Texas_Fan posed some questions on her blog a few days ago, starting with "If you were to get that "phone call" what would you chat with him about?". Check them out here.
Why are these loaded questions? Why does it take so much thought? It’s as simple as talking to anyone else you meet in real life. Right?
In reality, yes. But when it comes to fans and the objects of their affection, we’re not in reality.
When fans are getting ready to meet their idols, or if they are suddenly presented with the opportunity out of the blue, talking to them is not just about an average conversation. When fans are really drop-dead honest with themselves, they want – they NEED - something very specific out of this encounter.
They want their idol to like them back.
In words on a screen, that looks pretty simple. In practice it is anything but. Each fan has a specific idea of how that meeting is going to go. And for those who make an effort to get that meeting to happen (fan club meeting, book signing, whatever) there is more dreaming, planning, fantasizing, even role-playing in some cases, in an effort to prepare for any scenario. But you can't guarantee that real life will go the way of your visions.
To make it more complicated there’s always a fear that everyone knows about, but no one wants to voice, or even admit to themselves or anyone else:
They’re afraid their idol won’t like them.
Everyone wants to be the girl that Barry enjoys dancing/singing with. (I’m referring again to the commentary track on Manilow Live!) Everyone wants to be the one that can get him to laugh at something, or appreciate a gift. NO ONE wants to be “that girl” that he tries to ignore because she’s trying too hard, or that he “mails it in” for during a dance, or worst of all, the one that Stiletto staff laugh and gossip about later. (Disclaimer: I do not know whether that last one happens or not. Some individuals in various forums claim that it has.)
Now let’s add some irony: when given the opportunity to talk to their idol, the more you plan, the harder it is. Case in point: the BMIFC filmed Barry’s Q&A session at a Florida convention in 1989. No one has done more to prepare to talk to Barry than the people attending this type of gathering. The link below is from DailyMotion.com. He makes his entrance and invites the group to start the conversation. He literally says, “Talk to me!” "Ask me something!" The responses are all over the place. He realizes that it will take forever to get them going the straightforward route - he's carrying the conversation - so he switches to fielding questions that were sent in from other parts of the world. Then after a while people started to loosen up enough so that there is actual chatting back and forth.
I’m not in a position to give advice because if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I analyze things to death and over-think them. I can empathize with the fear of rejection; my one experience in that regard has made me profoundly gunshy about meeting anyone in any branch of entertainment, in spite of the long list of good encounters I’ve had.
The best meetings I can remember were the simplest. Especially the ones in “Not What You See”. Sure, there was some preparation to get the conversation rolling and I had to clarify what I thought my role was and keep myself in a mentally comfortable place. But that is what made it simple – I made myself comfortable in my own skin and made myself stop freaking out about being in an unusual place.
So if I had that phone call or random encounter what would I say?
I’ll have to get back to you on that one. ;-) If I felt comfortable spilling any amount of my guts to Barry, everything in this blog would have been put in a letter and mailed to Los Angeles a long time ago. But it feels safer putting it here; the Internet is a big place and there is no way that organization is going to plow through all of this. The odds against a random meeting are astronomical so I can afford to not stress out thinking about it. How’s that for the coward’s way out? 8^D