Monday, September 15, 2008

Celebrity and Teenage Hormones

I’ve been pretty damn sick this week, luckily I’m on the mend and there’s a good chance I’ll be back up to 100% by the time my parents get here on Friday.

Last night as I lay in bed, my body just toying with me …a memory popped into my head. One of those memories that seems to have completely and totally vanished until it spontaneously returns for no reason, as fresh and vivid as the day it was made.

As a kid, I would go camping with my family a lot. At least once a month me and my parents along with various Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and friends would load up in our respective caravans and annoy the hell out of all the normal motorists on the way to a camp site.

One of my favorite camping trips was our yearly visit to a place called Tatton Park. Not only did Tatton park have an absolutely huge adventure park, once a year they’d hold this huge fair/festival type deal.

In other words there was a lot to see and do, from the Red Arrows (The British version of the Blue Angels) doing an awesome aerial display, to appearances by celebrities.

It’s the celebrities I want to talk about today.

I couldn’t have been much older than fourteen at the time, and I’d somehow managed to get separated from my group of friends…so I was just walking around on my own looking at some of the exhibits on my way back to the campsite. It was near the end of the day so the fair was winding down.

After a while, I found myself talking to one of the Army exhibitors and managed to talk him into letting me have a go on his air-rifle range for free. The rifle range wasn’t getting much custom because it didn’t offer prizes.

I got talking to the guy and bet him I could hit all five targets with five shots. I actually managed it, and while I was gloating about how awesome I was, he motioned over my shoulder and said “Check that out.”

I turned and saw her.

It was Lightning from the British version of Gladiators.

It’s hard for me to explain exactly what this experience was like, but bear in mind that I was seeing this as a fourteen year old boy with raging hormones.

She was walking along, quite nonchalantly, with ‘Warrior’, another cast member from Gladiators. The two of them just talking like normal people and not, you know, the special people they put on TV.

I think my jaw may have literally hit the floor. You see…gulp…She was in costume.

Yeah, let that sink in for a moment.

On the one side, there’s me, fourteen years old, all adolescent awkwardness and hormones…and on the other, there’s Lightning… a TV star with the body of a fitness model, dressed in spandex…and not very much spandex at that. A vision. All blonde hair and tanned limbs.

Oh…the limbs!

I gawked. I think I actually goggled at one point.

Ok. I thought to myself. This is a once in a lifetime chance. Every Monday morning we talk about Gladiators in the schoolyard and usually end up arguing over which one’s hottest. How awesome would it be to get a picture with her?...Oh, you think Lightning’s the hottest? Yeah, me too! Here’s a pic of the two of us together. She was totally into me. AWESOME!

I looked down. I hadn’t brought my camera.

Bollocks. I thought.

It was at this point I realized she’d drawn level with me. Before my brain was aware of what had happened, I’d stepped forward.

“Uhhhh….” I said.

Great opening, you silver tongued devil! Laughed my brain.

“Uhhhh…Miss….Uhhhh…Lightning?” I said.

She stopped walking and smiled at me. Smiled at me! Lightning from The Gladiators smiled at me while wearing her spandex Gladiators costume!!!! SPANDEX!!!!

“What is it, sweetie?” She said.

OMFG! OMFG! OMFGWTFBBQPANCAKES! Lightning just smiled at me, in her spandex outfit and called me ‘sweetie’…and did I mention the SPANDEX?!?

“Uhhhh….I was wondering…if it’s not too much trouble…if I could…er….get your autograph?”

“Sure.” She said. Rather tactfully ignoring the way I was channeling William Shatner. “Have you got a pen and some paper?” She asked as she patted the sides of her legs, making her lady-parts jiggle in a way that almost caused me to burst into flames. “No pockets.” She laughed.

“Uhhhh….” I said.

Shit, shit, shit, shit!!!!!

Wait! The shooting gallery guy has to have a pen and something to write on! Yeah, he’s got the used paper targets!

I whirled around. The Army guy wasn’t there.

“Uhhh, can you wait just a second?” I asked, my voice sounded almost unbearably squeaky in my ears. “I can get some from…”

I started to turn around, when ‘Warrior’, henceforth known as the ‘World’s Biggest Douchebag’ said:

“Listen kid, we really don’t have time for this.” He said with an aggravated tone in his voice and an exasperated look on his face. “We spent over an hour signing autographs this morning. You shoulda asked then. We gotta get back and we can’t be waiting around all day.”

My ears felt like they were about to burst into flame. My body’s entire supply of blood rushed to my face… away from the place Lightning had made it rush to.

“It’ll only take a sec…” I whined. “If you can just wait a…”

“Sorry, kid.” He said in a tone that made it perfectly clear he wasn’t sorry at all. “We have to go.” Without another word, he just pushed past me and walked off.

Lightning looked at me and said “I’m sorry…maybe next time, ‘k?”

I stood there, feeling deflated. What was going to be the best story ever had turned from ‘The Time I Met Lightning From Gladiators Who Totally Wanted Me and Gave Me Her Autograph” into “The Time I Met Lightning From Gladiators and Was Made To Feel About a Foot Tall by A Douchebag Roid-Head In Spandex.”

The whole thing made me think a lot about celebrities.

I’m not going to go into the whole ‘Fans pay your Salary’ thing…but I really wish a lot of celebrities would realize that while being asked for an autograph might be an every-day pain in the ass thing for you, it can honestly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the fan.

You basically have a choice. Take an extra thirty seconds and leave your fan with a story about how friendly and awesome you are…or you can brush them off and leave them thinking what a gigantic douchebag you are.

Ok, I can understand when celebs get pissed off when they get approached and pestered when they’re halfway through a meal in a restaurant, or just doing something with their kids…but I don’t think it’s too much to ask when you’re making a scheduled appearance, even when it’s not the designated ‘meet and greet’ time.

It wouldn’t be so bad, but it looking back, at the time I thought of ‘The Gladiators’ as ‘Big TV stars’…through more ‘grown up’ eyes, they were really minor celebrities from a Sunday night game show. To be completely honest, I wouldn’t have recognized most of them without their outfits.

On the ‘celeb scale’, they kinda occupy the same level as gardening show hosts and reality stars. Refusing a kid an autograph was just a douchebag thing to do. Especially when he guy who refused wasn’t even the one I wanted an autograph from.

I never did see Lightning again, although on that same trip I did meet Grotbags…who while being on the opposite end of the hotness spectrum to Lightning (and then some), not only gave me an autograph, but even let me have a go of her ‘bazzazzer’.

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