I didn’t really flinch when I met Britney Spears. It was 1999 and I was one of a handful of media to interview her before a concert at GM Place in Vancouver. She was huge on the charts, but it was still an easy chat.
Same for Robbie Williams, Christina Aguilera, and 98 Degrees. Interviewing them was just part of my job as a Top 40 radio host. Celebrity came in, answered some questions, and we had some fun. It was easy to talk to Rob Thomas, Diddy, Backstreet Boys, Lady Gaga, Destiny’s Child, and Nickelback.
It might be a musician that inspires you with words, a business leader that inspires you with actions, an athlete that inspires you with dedication, a talk show host that inspires you with spirituality (and free cars!!)
When you get a chance to meet those people you truly admire, your demeanor changes. Instantly.
I was nervous to interview Mick Jagger, Janet Jackson, and Tori Amos. I was a little odd each of the 3 times I met Alanis (had a big crush on her), and all those times I interviewed Chantal Kreviazuk (crushed on her too). I waited outside a stage door to meet Debbie Gibson, and took time out from a vacation to wait 8 hours on the side of the road to see Lance Armstrong sail by in a split second in the Tour de France.
For the longest time, I was a Lance fan. Big fan. I had all his books, all his gear, I chased him down at a charity ride to get his autograph.
Then, well, yknow, the trust was broken.
This morning, I got up earlier than usual, and bundled my son up, still in his pyjamas, to sit in the car outside a tv station waiting for an astronaut to finish his interview.
Chris Hadfield captured the imagination of the world this spring as he took pictures of our planet and expressed a sincere joy at what he does for a living. He sang songs, told jokes, traded tweets, and inspired millions. Now, back on earth, he’s doing the speaking circuit sharing his philosophies on life, leadership, and goals while promoting his book.
There was a time in my life when I wanted to be an astronaut. I sat with guidance counsellors in Grade 12 and said I wanted to drive the space shuttle. I debated entering engineering in university to chase that dream, but had it brought to earth when I realized I just wasn’t smart enough.
Still, I have that dream.
My mom found out she was pregnant with me around the time Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. One of my earliest memories is driving a lunar buggy at the Kennedy Space Centre when I was 5. The Challenger explosion happened on my 16th birthday. In the late 90s, I starred as an astronaut in an exhibit at The HR Macmillan Space Centre. Columbia would explode 3 days after I turned 33. In 2005, I would meet Buzz Aldrin.I have been writing online for nearly 20 years, and the one post that has received the most traffic of anything I have ever written, was written about a conversation between astronauts – real and fictional. Nearly 150 000 people have read my collection of tweets between Commander Hadfield, Mr Sulu, Captain Kirk, Mr Spock, and Buzz Aldrin.
It all comes full circle.
To slip the surly bonds of earth is something that has followed me my entire life. When I see what Richard Branson is doing with Virgin Galactic I wonder and think .. maybe. Well, maybe not for me, but this week I’ve asked both my boys if, one day, they’ll go to space for me. Zacharie says he’ll do it.
So it’s no surprise then, that I would get Z up early out of bed to try to meet Commander Hadfield, shake his hand, thank him for the inspiration, and get him to sign his book for me, and an autograph book for Zacharie in the pages following Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.
I am, after all, a fanboy too.