I went to the Miami Book Fair this weekend and met Matt Groening. He sat down near me during a discussion of the history of comics and when the speakers were finished, I leaned over and asked, "Excuse me, are you Matt?"
I wasn't really sure it was him. I don't know what Matt Groening should look like in person other than some interview I probably saw on TV. But I knew he was going to be at the Fair because he was listed to perform with a rock band called the Rock Bottom Remainders.
When I was a kid, my dad used to take the family on trips to New York and Washington D. C. because he worked for an airline and we could fly cheap. One trip, when we were in D. C., Henry Kissinger walked past us on the street. I don't know if you remember, but Kissinger was at one time, about the most important person in the whole world. So as Mr. Kissinger, I don't know, marched by with a purposeful gait as if he were about to save the world from something, my dad pulled out his Instamatic camera, cranked the wheel to advance the film, and called out, "Henry! Oh, Henry!" as if he were calling the family dog. Kissinger marched by, leaving my dad fuming because he wouldn't stop to take a photo with the family from Kansas (not my real home town, but "family from Kansas" sounds better).
Anyway, I've always remembered that moment for a couple of reasons. For one thing, my dad felt stupid, which made me happy because we fought all the time. But the other reason is that I've often thought how I would act in that situation, about how I would get some celebrity's attention if I wanted an autograph or photo. And I think I learned that some people respond to first names and some respond to last names, and some won't respond at all.
But lots of people respond to first names about the same. First names make people feel comfortable.
So when I sat there behind the creator of The Simpsons and thought about what I would say to get his attention and not make him run or punch me in the face (yes, I'm talking about you, Martha Stewart!), I figured it couldn't hurt to just say, "Hi, Matt."
Anyway, he said Hi and we shook hands and I asked him what instrument he played (in the band mentioned earlier). He said he sang background vocals. And I said, okay, see you later. And that was it. I didn't stick a camera in his face and blind him with the flash and I didn't ask him to sign my head. And he didn't call security to have me beaten.
Names are a problem in libraries. Understandably, women don't want anyone to know their last names because libraries are filled with murderers. I don't like anyone to know my first name, preferring to have everyone at work call me, Mr. Superduper. Because if they knew my full name, calling me Alawicious Perfection Superduper would just sound silly.
(I also met the guys from Unshelved, but I don't think they liked me. Which is important because everyone loves me.)