That Time I Met Donald Miller
Friday evening was way-fun, especially for a writing nerd like me. Not only did I have the unique opportunity to hear one of my favorite authors speak, but, I also got to be one of four people, tripping over ourselves to hand him bottles of water.
I have elevated my sister-in-law, Carol, to “Most Favored Friend and Family Member” for hooking me up for this gig. She sits on the board of directors for Ashland Theological Seminary, the organizers of this event, And when she mentioned casually that Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years) was speaking, I squealed. Sensing my enthusiasm, she invited me to come.
And Thursday when they asked her if she would be Don Miller’s personal assistant at the event, she sent me a text inviting me to help her.
Say WHAT???? More squealing.
And then I proceeded to send out e-mails and leave phone messages for people, who weren’t nearly as excited as I was.
And then I posted it all over Facebook.
And that night I dreamed that I forgot my luggage and Don Miller invited me on stage to sing “Happy Birthday” with him.
Carol reconsidered her invitation to me.
I promised I’d be good.
Here’s a breakdown of the evening:
1:00 pm—I leave Louisville, KY and drive 3 ½ hours to Columbus, OH—armed with my camera and all my Donald Miller books, ready for signing! I envision myself sitting in the Green Room with him prior to the event, asking insightful questions about the exhilarating life of a New York Times Bestselling Author. We laugh, because we are connecting. Then he asks me about my life, and I tell him, humbly, that I, too, am a writer. And he asks me to co-author his next bestseller. And then I join him on stage, where we sing “Happy Birthday.”
4:45 pm—I arrive at the venue and help Carol deliver several Subway meals and 8 water bottles to the room where Don (and I!!!) will be.
4:50 pm—I stand in the church foyer waiting for Don Miller to arrive. There, I meet a number of Ashland Seminary board members and alumni. I say many dumb things and talk about myself entirely too much, because I’m nervous and giddy and that’s just what I do.
5:00 pm—Don Miller walks through the doors and I beg God put a filter on my mouth before I open it in his presence. (And by “his” I mean Don’s. God is well aware of the stupidity that flows from my unfiltered mouth.)
5:30 pm—I meet Don Miller in a conference room. I hand him several bottles of water. And he says, “Wow, that’s a lot of water.” Isn’t Don Miller so wonderfully witty? Each of us (me, Carol, Carol’s husband/my brother, and the emcee of the event) ask him if he needs anything. He says, “No, thank you.” Then he says, “This is the life of a speaker…you arrive and everyone asks you what you need, and you don’t need anything.” Isn’t Don Miller so wonderfully witty??!!??
5:35 pm—We are all cracking jokes because we are nervous and giddy and that’s just what we do. Somewhere in the midst of the nervous joke-telling, Carol tells DM that I’m a personal trainer. (Which isn’t true. I’m not sure why she blurted that, because Carol is one of the most composed women I know. Except for the fact that she was nervous and giddy and forgot to pray for the mouth filter.) So, he says to me, “Oh, you’re a personal trainer?” And I say “No, but I am a Beachbody coach.” (What??? Why did I say that? Of all the things I “do,” the Beachbody Coach job probably totals .2% of my time—I should have said, “No, I’m a writer!!! I AM A WRITER AND SPEAKER, DANGIT!!!! THAT’S WHY I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!! BECAUSE I WANT TO BE LIKE YOU WHEN I GROW UP!”)
But no, I said “I’m a Beachbody Coach.” Smooth.
Several P90X jokes follow. DM asks me if I want to open for him—because I’m obviously being so incredibly funny—but not at all because I’m a writer/speaker.
5:45 pm—I hand DM a few more bottles of water and tell him sincerely that I’m a huge fan, read his blog regularly and have loved and enjoyed his books. He is sincerely grateful. I thank God I was able to articulate that without cracking additional ridiculous jokes or spitting on him or passing out or throwing up. I want to take a few pictures and perhaps have him sign my books, but the timing is odd. Besides, we are sharing a sincere moment.
6:00 pm—I have the honor, along with a few others, to pray for DM. Sincerely, very cool.
6:05 pm—it becomes obvious that we are all just standing around DM, smiling and handing him water, and creeping him out a bit. We excuse ourselves and let him know if he needs anything, like water, we are all over it. We go eat Subway sandwiches in a room full of Ashland Seminary people. I rack my brain trying to think of a good excuse to go back into DM’s room so I can pick his brain about writing and snap a few pictures and give him opportunity to invite me to co-author a book with him. Because, as of that moment, he thinks I just sell P90X (and possibly water). No good excuse surfaces in my brain that doesn’t make me look obsessed and self-absorbed and stalker-like.
7:00-9:00—We get front row seats to his outstanding presentation. He makes a P90X joke (which I translate as “SHOUT OUT TO MY NEW BEST FRIEND AND WORLD’S FUNNIEST BEACHBODY COACH, SANDY COOPER!!!”) I laugh unusually loud and take copious notes. I snap pictures from afar.
9:00-10:00—We usher DM to his writing table and bring a few more bottles of water—totaling 17, give or take. They assign me the job of Crowd Control Girl, meaning, I keep the line moving. I ask people to have their books open to the page they want Don to sign and have their cameras ready so Carol can snap a picture. I take my job very seriously. I meet some very cool people. A few of them ask me if I travel with Don. I’m tempted to lie and say yes. But I choose truth. “No,” I respond. “But I am co-authoring his next book.”
I’m kidding. I never said that.
10:00 pm—the line comes to a complete standstill because someone wants to discuss theology with DM, and DM is gracious and polite and patient in answering the questions. It’s looking less and less like I will get a picture with him OR my book signed–let alone have a long, conversation about the life of a writer. My brother, James, offers to take a picture of me next to the wall and Photoshop DM in. No one has to know, he says.
10:10—Finally, after the entire line filters through, Don Miller signs Carol’s book…
And then poses with my brother…
And then signs mine. The last one of the night. I’m tired, my mascara is smudged. I have used up all my words.
He still has no clue I am a writer. And I’m okay with that. Because, as I said, my mascara is smudged and I have no more words. That is all.
Q4U: Have you ever met someone famous? Did you get all weird, like I did?
When I met Phil Vischer of Veggie Tales and acted weird
When I met The Nester of Nesting Place and acted weird
When I went to LA and wanted to meet famous people and acted weird
When I was 13, my sister and I were in Las Vegas to visit my dad. He took us to a dinner show at the MGM Grand Hotel where Sister Sledge was opening up for Bill Cosby. Apparently he slipped someone some cash and we got a seat right in front of the stage. Bill Cosby was doing his family-based comedy routine, looked down at my sister and me and told us to get up there on stage with him. So we did. Who says no to Bill Cosby? He kept us up there for a little while, asking us questions about being sisters and stuff. I’m not sure I said a whole lot but it was pretty cool.
Wow. That sounds fun. Though, as a 13 year old, you were probably more embarrassed and self-conscious than you were excited.
Sandy Cooper is the only famous person I know and I’ve only stalked her blog!!
Hey Mark, BRING ME SOME WATER, WILL YA???
I laughed out loud and I am heading to Walmart to stock up on water for you.
I met the Pioneer Woman. And I blew it! By the time I got to give her my book, I forgot everything I was going to say and the person I was going to tell her I knew that she also knew (connection!), and I left and remembered it all. I was also about the third to the last person in the line and I think it was at least 1am. I had also flown into town that day from a vacation in Florida (I live in Texas) and my husband was home with the kids, the smallest one was still nursing. It was a crazy night. I was so glad to have met her, but I wish that I had had some more sense at the time.
Your night sounds awesome. I love, love the commentary. You are so very witty! 🙂
Oh, Christina! I’m exhausted just reading your comment. I almost cried for you when you said, “the smallest one was still nursing.”
This post was hysterical! Thanks for sharing. I loved it so much I had to read it twice!!
Now, where do I start with the donna meets famous people… Dorothy Hamel, Dick Clark, Carly Simon (got her to sing “I haven’t got time for the pain” to me!), Dr. Oz, David Letterman (got him to kiss me!), and Dr. Charles Stanley. Tomorrow night I might be meeting Mitt Romney… we were once “neighbors” – he doesn’t know it and he doesn’t know me – yet!
PS When I meet these folks, I make like I’ve been their friend for some time… need them to be comfortable with me so I can take a photo together and exchange addresses (I wish).
It is always a delight to read your lively accounts of a day in the life of Sandy…
Once my husband took me back stage at the Grand Ole Opry during a rehearsal…I managed to trip over a cable, so I high-tailed it out of there before any introductions were made…
I am super tempted to tweet this post to Donald Miller so he can read it and know you are a writer and not just a Beachbody sales lady who really likes water 🙂
I’m not sure this post would prove to him I’m a writer. Maybe just crazy.