Pen Pal

The following is the text of an email exchange (exchange by definition only) between myself and a friend–of sorts.

Subject: I’m trying…trying to think of another desert…to do…..

You know, I’m sitting here trying to think of something witty and clever to say that will stand out amongst the untold thousands of emails you probably receive everyday. Then I thought, if I really have to think for too long about something witty and clever to say, whatever I end up saying will most likely be neither witty nor clever. So I might as well quit now while I’m ahead. Of course, now I’m waaaay behind so… My wife keeps telling me, “Do you really think you can be witty enough to stand out in all her emails?” **sigh** She’s probably right. Or she’s jealous. Because John doesn’t have a Myspace space. But she does spend an awful lot of time on For The Love of John Krasinski ( Anyway, before I ramble on
like an idiot even more, I love the new song you have on your page. Good stuff.
Keep up the good work, can’t wait for Thursday, blah, blah, blah, I think you’re
the bees knees.


Subject: Re: I’m trying…trying to think of another desert…to do…..

Tell your wife that your email stood out…and John says “hello”.


I wrestled with posting this or not for fear I may a) really freak out my mother, b) lose all my street cred, c) come off looking pathetic and weird, or d) all of the above. Please reserve judgement until you’ve read the full post. In an effort to simaltaneously salvage what shreds of human dignity I have remaining and brag that I got an email from a famous person and you didn’t, I have chosen to frame this post in the pretext of a discussion on celebrity worship in America.

First, my story. Admitting to writing a fan letter or email is probably one of the most humiliating things a self-respecting adult can do. But since I excel at being humble, it’s probably my best quality, it’s not too much of a stretch for me. So yes, I did indeed write that email to Jenna Fischer, it wasn’t the first, and it may not be the last. Why did I write it? Probably just for the reason the email said; to see if I could be witty enough to stand out amongst hundreds, if not thousands of emails. You can’t test that kind of thing on people you know. And what greater challenge than to attempt to be singled out as an individual in a sea of nearly 50,000 Myspace friends. So it was a self-test of my degree of clever. Or my degree of annoying. Could go either way. Why Jenna Fischer? That’s a different post. I don’t have any weird delusions of us becoming lifetime pen-pals and maybe, just maybe I’m playing things up a little to my friends for my own amusement. Maybe. Or maybe not.

Everyone who knows me has mentioned how out of character all of this is for me. In most cases I find celebrity infatuation to be absurd and sad. Why do we care who’s having whose baby? Why do we care what so-and-so says about such-and-such? Is the E! channel really necessary? Is Celebrity Fear Factor really that much more compelling than regular Fear Factor? Are our lives so boring that our only option is to live vicariously through strangers? The answer to that question is probably yes. Because we sit in front of our TV’s and veg out instead of actually doing something.

Don’t misundertand me. There’s nothing wrong with being entertained and enjoying watching talented people do their thing, whether it’s acting, music, sports, or whatever. But the adsurdity comes when the public forgets that the people they see on the screen are not always the people they really are. A character may seem like a very nice person, the actor might be a jerk, or vice versa. I often feel bad for the stars. Often, not always. Imagine you need to make an emergency diaper run to the grocery store at 10 PM and on your way out of the garage you’re blinded by paparazzi flashbulbs from your shrubs. Walking around half-blind in the store you’ve got people whispering and staring and pointing. Then the checker sees the name on your credit card and bellows, “Holy cow! You’re [insert name] from [insert show, movie, band, sports team]. Wow!” This of course opens the gates for all the late night shoppers, a different breed of shopper, to clamour for autographs and locks of hair. And all you wanted were some Huggies.

I’ve had a few interactions with celebrities over the years. All are of the D-list variety, if not in terms of talent but in noteriety. When I was about eight I met and had lunch with Seattle Mariner second baseman and future ESPN Baseball Tonight commentator Harold Reynolds. The dad of one of my buddies in high school was a multiple Oscar award winning sound re-recording mixer named Gary Summers. (Yes, I got to hold his Oscar’s.) Through him I met Ben Burtt who has worked for Lucasfilm for years as a sound designer and editor. A couple years ago I met and had a conversation with former major leaguer Alvin Davis when he came to speak at an awards ceremony for the basketball league my church runs. Now those aren’t the names that are going to get anybody too excited but I decided to drop them anyway with no real point.

Really, all this is to say that despite any emails I may send to Jenna Fischer, Bob Vance (that’s actually his characters name), or anybody else, I am not a celebrity chasing pyscho. I would like to think that if I happened to see a recognizable face in a restaurant having a nice dinner with their family I would first ask myself what on earth am I doing in this restaurant, there’s no way I can afford it, and second, I hope I would have enough respect for the person as a person to let them eat their surf ‘n turf in peace. Unless it’s Jenna Fischer, then I’m totally asking for an autograph. Because, you know, we’re Myspace friends.


13 thoughts on “Pen Pal

  1. kludge

    I agree with June. This is getting worse. Just tell Jen to stop salavating over John so we can get back to normal fun loving Ando.

    By the way, I once saw a Ronald Regan cabinet member, Nicholas F. Brady in Ca Bianca’s. It was cool, ‘cus his signature was on money and all.

  2. Ando

    You don’t think this is fun for me? Think again my friend, think again. It’s fun on many different levels. I get to pretend I’m pals with a TV star and I get to enjoy the freak outs of close friends and relatives. What’s not fun loving about that?

  3. Heavy G

    Jody and I once met Mare Willingham at In & Out Burger. (She is Tom Hanks’ love interest in Turner and Hooch) I felt pathetic enough by the fact that I knew who she was and evem worse when as she walked by Jody says, “My Husband thinks you look like Mare willinham”. She was very nice and said , “He would be right”.Somehow it really hasn’t made my life seem more complete.

  4. Ando

    J Crew-

    If you way that to my wife you’re a dead man.


    That’s a good point. What do we really think we have to gain by saying, “Aren’t you Mare Willingham?” I think deep down we think they might actually be interested in having a real conversation with us and that will enhance our existence in some mysterious way. When really all it does is allow us to say, “One time I talked to Mare Willingham at In ‘n Out.” to our friends. And really, who cares?

  5. b

    Hey Jeff I saw Mare the other day and told her, my friend Jeff thinks you are that chick in that movie Tuner and Hooch. She said “Jeff who?”

  6. Tara

    I am fascinated by yours and Jens love for all things Jenna and John.

    I have Zach Braff as my myspace friend so I guess I’m pathetic too :)I can’t even brag that I met him, just watched him filming 5 feet away.

  7. Ando

    I don’t think I could brag in good conscience that I actually met Jenna Fischer. Just the next best thing, she communicated with me of her own volition. At least I hope it was of her own volition.

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