I have always wanted to be some kind of a celebrity...just so I could have some kind of fans...so I could be nice to them and make their day...just by being NICE. I like to consider myself a nice person...but I don't think it means too much to people.
When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of Harry Connick, Jr. (Well, I still am a huge fan of Harry Connick, Jr...but am now able to listen to him and talk about him without shrieking like a banshee.) He is probably the first entertainer I ever became a fan of on my own (as opposed to Frank Sinatra, who I grew up thinking was a member of my family.)
Let's go back to 1996...
I was an awkward, goofy 14-year-old kid and my favorite star in the entire world…the first entertainer I was ever a fan of…the first person I hung on my bedroom wall and up in my locker at school…the first albums I ever bought with my own money…called me on the telephone and I am yet to forget just how much that meant to me.
Why did he call me on the telephone?
I have always been crazy with the yarn. I love making things for people. The majority of people that I know and love have some kind of crocheted article of clothing or Christmas ornament from me.
Harry Connick, Jr. is no exception.
When I went to meet Harry at the Star Turtle CD signing, I gave him a pillow I made for his newborn baby, Georgia. (It was pink and white and had her name on it!) I included a card.
Three weeks later, I came home from the movies (I was actually seeing Independence Day, because Harry was in it, of course, even though he died in the first fifteen minutes) to my sister telling me that, "You are going to freak. No, really, you are going to FREAK. Harry Connick, Jr. called you to thank you for the pillow. He said he'd call back..."
And call back Harry Connick, Jr. DID.
I picked up.
Harry: Hello, is Diana there?
Diana: Yes. This is Diana.
Harry: Hi, Diana, this is Harry Connick, Jr. How are you?
Diana: I am good. How are you?
("AUGHHHHHHHHHH! I AM ON THE PHONE WITH HARRY CONNICK, JR."!
Honestly, just the nicest, lovliest man.
We talked for a few minutes. He told me that Georgia LOVED her pillow and that she snuggles with it, and he was sure that when she learned to talk, she'd tell them how much she loved it.
A few days later, I got a thank-you note “from” Georgia, which I can only assume was written by Harry's wife, Jill. (I can’t imagine anybody but a mommy writing a note from a baby and signing it “love and kisses”). I became a fan of Jill’s right then as well. Whenever I see pictures of the Connick family, which now includes three little girls, I smile. What a beautiful family.
Now, I don’t know if Harry could ever understand how much that meant to me. To Harry, he was just doing something simple and polite…calling somebody to thank them for giving you a baby gift…something you would do for anybody. However, it was so much more than that to me! After that experience, I wanted to be some kind of a performer just so I could make some random kid as happy as he made me with a two-minute phone call.
I remain a devoted fan of Harry Connick, Jr. I listen to his Christmas album on repeat during the holidays, and I saw him in concert back in April. (Georgia and her little sister Kate got up and danced with him on stage that night!) He is the best live act I have ever seen...just BRIMMING with charisma and personality and it is so clear that he just loves what he does so, so much. He really just lights-up like a little kid when he's up onstage, and it is a pure delight to witness.
He will have a fan in me, as a performer and as a person, for life.
(Remember that episode of Growing Pains when Ben discovers that his music idol is a real jerk and cheats on his wife? And he realizes that it is possible to be a fan of somebody's work, even if they're not a great person? Well, I am happy to have found a wonderful entertainer AND human being in Harry Connick, Jr. He absolutely deserves everything that comes his way, professionally or personally.)
What a guy!
(As I was writing this, I popped in the Pajama Game cast recording.)
Two weeks ago, I discovered that you don't need to be a celebrity to be nice to people and have it really mean something.
I had a trauma, and I was hysterical crying in an elevator.
And we are talking HYSTERICAL.
And then an extremely kind woman who I barely said two words to in my life noticed me (it was hard not to...it was a small elevator...and did I mention I was hysterical crying?). She took me into her office, she calmed me down, and then she walked me about fifteen blocks and helped me get to my train. She even called my mother to tell her what happened.
Like my Harry Connick, Jr. experience, I will never forget this woman's kindness. She doesn't have two Grammys and a Tony nomination, but she does have a great deal of class and kindness to share. I will forever be grateful to her for being so kind to me in my hour of need.
So...while it would be nice to be a star...and have fans...I have discovered that it isn't really necessary...being nice to people really DOES pay off sometimes, and can really make a difference, no matter what the celebrity status of either one.
From now on, I'll just be on the look-out for crying people in elevators.