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?