The last few months I have had a serious crisis of confidence. Not really sure where it originated, but the impact was obvious — I became quiet when I should have been speaking up, a wallflower when I should have been a presence. Basically, I wasn’t myself.
Back in March I went to a screening of one of Sam Rockwell’s new movies, and he was there for a Q&A. My first thought was “I can’t wait to shake his hand and tell him how much his performances meant to me over the last 15 years.” Actually, my first though was “I will make Sam Rockwell my husband. He will learn to love me,” but that seemed arrest-worthy, so I went with my second thought.
The Q&A ended and the theater started to empty out, but Sam Rockwell…Sammy…my main man Sam (henceforth known as MMMS) was still milling around with this peeps. This was my chance, but I froze. Could I go up there alone? What would I say? He’d think I was obsessive if I told him how much I loved his portrayal of Victor Mancini in Choke even though it was different from how I’d imagined the character each of the three times I had read the book. He would dismiss me as trivial if I asked to take a picture with him so I could show my dad I met Crewman Number Six. And he’d think I was rude if I told him what I really thought of Trust Me.
While I was mentally masturbating, MMMS started walking up the theater aisle towards me. Then past me. Then out the door. I had missed my chance and suddenly felt unbelievably lame. One of my favorites was within inches of me and I couldn’t man up enough to tell him I appreciate his work.
I wandered out of the theater feeling dejected, until I caught a glimpse of MMMS’s red leather jacket as he attempted to hail a cab across the street. I had a second chance and no desire to relive the crumminess I felt minutes before. I ran across the street (in traffic), tapped him on the shoulder (a little too forcefully) and told him how big a fan I was (kind of breathlessly, give me a break I had just narrowly missed getting hit by a bus). I threw out a few comments about the movie I had just seen and his earlier movies. He was friendly, chatty, welcoming and more than willing to stand next to me for a few seconds to snap a photo.
I didn’t feel stupid — although I probably should have, given that I actually said…to his face… “Wow, I am so glad to meet you I am peeing myself in excitement…metaphorically, I mean” (ugh, it makes me cringe even now) – and really didn’t care if he or anyone else thought I was. We’d had a perfectly pleasant exchange and I had a happy memory to slide into in my “Cool Celebrity Encounters” brainball, alongside the Mick Jagger and Johnny Lee Miller files.
My mentor at work once told me the importance of “thinking about it later” to get out of your own head. Whenever you feel insecurity start to take hold, commit to thinking about that later and free your head up to focus on what is happening in the moment. MMMS showed me that this strategy is a good one – and the only thing I had to think about later was how glad I was that I spoke up (and how I probably should keep all references to urine out of my future correspondence with people I admire).
I’d like to get to a place where it is easy to replace stressing about other people’s perceptions with remembering how good it felt to push aside my insecurity and as a result get to awkwardly manhandle one of my favorite actors. And hopefully this will allow me to metaphorically awkwardly manhandle one of my favorite actors in any situation I might face.
And just because I think he is the bee’s knees…