I need to find a new word to describe myself.
See, I USED to use “fangirl”, as both a noun and a verb. Ex: “I am such a Star Wars fangirl.”; “I fangirled HARD over the news of the upcoming Cassian series.” I thought it perfectly exemplified my particular brand of nerdiness-- unabashed appreciation with a tendency to hyperfocus and a dash of squee mixed in for good measure. But it’s come to my attention that not only does “fangirl” come with a negative connotation (if you’ve been involved with toxic fandoms, you know EXACTLY why) and it’s also gender-exclusive. And while us girls deserve words and general things that are just ours, I like to be as inclusive as possible.
I haven’t come up with one yet, but I think it’s because I’d also like this word to encompass the more awkward part of my fan experience: meeting the artists I appreciate. But I need you to understand that when I say “more awkward”, I mean HORRENDOUSLY EMBARRASSING.
Seriously, it’s bad.
It’s SO bad, in fact, that I now flat out avoid such situations altogether. About a month and a half ago, I attended the taping of an interview of the biggest celebrity crush I’ve had since I was like… thirteen and in love with the Backstreet Boys. The difference, of course, is that instead of fully embracing my thirst (because you SHOULD at thirteen, tbh-- your hormones basically control your life at that point. YOU ALSO SHOULD BE A LOT BETTER BY YOUR MID-THIRTIES *glares at my hormones who clearly missed that memo*), I AM SO HUMILIATED by how much I drool over this man.
Anyway. The taping.
When I walked up to the building it was in, said celebrity crush literally pulled up at the exact same time. I WAS MERE FEET FROM HIM when he got out of his car-- but the minute I noticed this, I hightailed it in the other direction. Same thing happened when the taping ended-- it was announced that he’d do sort of a stage door situation and I noped right out of there and took off down the street. Even DURING the taping, I was practically sweating at the lack of distance between us and the possibility that he could look in my direction.
I KNOW. IT’S RIDICULOUS. I AM A MARRIED WOMAN IN HER MID-THIRTIES. I AM AN ADULT. And what people tell me when they find out about this trait of mine is: “They’re just people”, which is frustrating because I GET that. It’s not that I don’t think that these people have morning breath and horrible farts-- or, even worse, a love of ketchup. This is how I’ve ALWAYS operated when I admire people, famous or not.
When I had crushes when I was younger, I literally used to run away or hide from the person as much as possible. I’d see them coming down the hallway and run in the opposite direction or dive into classrooms. When I met my own HUSBAND, I hid behind my friends and made sure to face in the opposite direction the entire night.
I have NO IDEA how I ended up married, and to such a SPECIMEN. Like, I’m an idiot.
But even beyond crushes, I used get all flustered and… yeah, “fangirl-y”... around friends when they exhibited any sort of talent that I found impressive (and if it’s singing, forget it-- I have to go lie down, usually). So it’s not just a starstruck thing, it’s just ME, I guess. Admiration equals fleeing.
The thing is, living in New York City, I’ve had a ridiculous amount of opportunity to meet people I admire. And for awhile there-- or, at least, when I had friends with me to force me to interact-- I tried to push through the awkwardness and do it, just to be able to tell them how much I liked their work. Which was an AWFUL idea, honestly, and never really went well.
… when I actually DID end up saying something. There has still been a lot of running away.
Let’s go through the list, shall we?
At an event with a panel that featured my favorite author, I went outside during a break to text my husband. All of a sudden, Favorite Author comes outside and sits down next to me. ON THE SAME BENCH. All I can do is text a probably illegible collection of letters until Favorite Author goes back inside. (Actually, I DID end up talking to him later that day, but only because we ended up literally alone in a room together and he actually approached me and I have no idea what I said but it was probably awful.)
Me: *meets actor outside of stage door*
You were so good in the show.
Me: NO YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU WERE SO. GOOD.
Actor: *slightly alarmed* Thanks, I would… hope??? So???
(Another stage door)
Me: *did fairly well meeting actor I have a huge crush on, is currently taking picture of actor and friend, while thinking…* Oh no, he’s looking at me. TAKE THE PICTURE, TAKE THE PICTURE!!
Friend: *moments later* Um, are you okay? You are literally BURNING UP.
Me: HAHAHAHA I’M FINE, EVERYTHING’S FINE.
Me: *is in restaurant, when actor I’ve met before approaches* OH GOD I AM SO SORRY I DIDN’T KNOW YOU WOULD BE HERE I’M SO SORRY WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE SORRY
Actor: Uh?? It’s okay??? I came up to you?? *he and husband share WTF look at my idiocy*
Actor: What did you think of the show?
Me: IT WAS A… THINKY… THING. *wince*
Actor: *was just in a show*
Me: HI YOU WERE REALLY GOOD IN (movie actor did in the 80s)
Accompanying Friend: *actual facepalm*
Me: *at radio station, supposed to be asking question to favorite band*
LOOK AT ALL THESE BUTTONS I MUST TOUCH ONE
DJ: PLEASE DON’T TOUCH ANY BUTTONS
Trust me, there’s more.
So yeah, my general decision is NOT meet people, anymore. Y’know, to save myself the embarrassment. The problem is that I tend to forget this decision and sign myself up for more opportunities to be an idiot, only to regret it later (or just run away, like normal).
Hey, maybe that’s the right word for me: kind of mix of fan and awkward idiot. Fawkward?
I got it: