Earlier this year I was at a dinner for the Freedom to Read Foundation, and was privileged to be seated at the same table with a gifted Y/A writer, who is not only an outspoken supporter of freedom to read and write, but is also very popular. Her publicist was at the table and mentioned that thousands of kids line up when this woman appears at events.
This remark sparked a hot argument among the rest of us: who would we wait in line for hours to meet? I said, “No one.” Not because there aren’t people I admire greatly–but because I don’t want the glazed eyes, the smile that goes to people in a crowd of thousands. I want to be recognized, my special Sara-ness acknowledged. I waited once for Renee Fleming when she was autographing CD’s, and was treated to that glassy face. I understood her need for self-protection, but I still felt disappointed.
Suddenly, though, I remembered Richard Burton. As soon as I said his name, all the women at the table swooned in unison.(The men guffawed, but started slavering over Liz Taylor). Yes, we women agreed, we would wait for hours for Burton, but only if he read something to us–preferably love sonnets of John Donne, but the phone book would be acceptable. I almost drove off the road once, listening to a cassette of Burton reading Donne. (The link in this paragraph takes you to a Harper Audio site where you can hear Burton read Donne.)
Is there anyone you’d wait to meet? Would there have to be, as in my Burton fantasy, a personal connection, or would the glassy shielded smile be enough for you?
(I don’t have the Y/A writer’s permission to mention her name, which is why I don’t give it here.)