I have to confess to being a Python fan from way back, and while Terry Jones was not my favorite Python (I always especially liked Cleese, Palin, and Idle), it was still a fairly unreal experience to be walking over to the bookstore, knowing that he'd actually be there.
I pride myself on being not terribly flappable when it comes to meeting celebrities. Well, these days, anyway - in college, when I kept running into the brothers and children of the rich and famous, I was definitely flappable. And not that I've met very many. But I'm usually not all that impressed by their celebrity, and while there are some people I'd really like to meet, in general, I've always thought of myself as unlikely to get flustered around the average famous person.
But there I was, palms actually sweating, thinking, "I'm going to meet a childhood idol. What the hell am I going to say?!" Because it's all well and good to be unimpressed, but obviously, if I'm bothering to get my book signed, I'm somewhat impressed. And if I'm impressed, then that means that it matters to me that I not be a total idiot when I get my few minutes of chatting time. Suddenly, you realize that this is a person who has in some way mattered to you - made you laugh, made you cry, made you think - whatever - and you want that brief moment of contact to be meaningful.
I got to the bookstore before he did, so I had time to take a look at his books. (I had no idea he'd done that pressed fairies book, the one that made me laugh out loud in Barnes and Noble a few years ago.) And he came in while I was in line to buy the three copies of Barbarians that I'd picked up. By the time I got my books and made it over to the line to see him, there were about 20 people ahead of me, and he was taking his time. So, I opened his book and started to read. This turned out to be a brilliant idea - I liked the book! And now I had something to say when I finally met him.
When I got to see him, he was lovely - he didn't mind that I had three books for him to sign (and I did give him the option of just signing one). He could not have been nicer. And for my part, I did not stammer, nor did I gush. (Watch for jokes about Women's Studies. He had not a clue what that is.)
And I did leave rather starry-eyed, and repeated for the rest of the day, to whomever would listen, "I met Terry Jones!"