My dad’s 60th birthday is coming up in a couple of months. The rest of my family started an email exchange about what we could do to celebrate to make the day special. I weighed in late in the electronic conversation, presenting the grand idea that I COULD COME TO DINNER. That would be my gift. After I hit send, I felt kind of ridiculous, that my great gift idea for someone would be that they could eat near me (and probably pay for the meal, based on past precedent). What a selfish daughter. Full of herself. . . entitled. . . But when my mom responded so excited–that he would LOVE that–I realized, I am kind of like a rockstar. To commemorate special occasions, other people fly me in to surprise their relatives at birthday parties. Lauren is HERE! And how did I become a rockstar, you ask? Simply by being the only person to move far away, such that my presence at dinner is somewhat rare.
My fleeting sense of importance led me to remember another “rockstar” moment of my life. It was when I was baby Ella’s handler (of sorts. “Parent” also probably describes it.) in South Korea. She was 18 months old; white blonde pigtails, inquisitive blue eyes, fair skin. A beautiful white, American baby. The Seoul natives and other Asian tourists were in raptures. Students on field trips would detour to touch her leg and then run back to their friends and giggle. Grandmothers on the subway would try to take her out of our arms for a chance to rock her. Visitors at the Demilitarized Zone lined up to take photos of. . . themselves with the white baby. Using her strong, early grasp of language, we taught her to say “hello” and “thank you” in Korean. Several older people nearly died of the cuteness. Kamsahamnida. Never in my life have I felt as noticed, as famous, as celebrity-like as when I escorted little Ella through Korea. It was her rockstar moment. (I’ve often felt guilty she had her five minutes of fame before she could realize it. But she actually hated it. It probably would have been more fitting to teach her the Korean phrase for “go away.”) But really, all she did to be a rockstar was. . . be born. Just like how I became one today by virtue of having moved to another state a decade ago.
My family: nearly effortless rockstars. I pondered this realization as we ate nachos for dinner. I wondered, ‘how else can you be a rockstar without really trying?.’ Maybe, guys, maybe I have figured it out:
- High-five people going the other way on the escalators, like you’re coming off the field after a major sports win. It seems mysterious and exciting. And little risk for awkward, because the interaction is over immediately.
- Toast people SO MUCH MORE OFTEN. You have a water bottle. Your cubemate has a water bottle. Clink. I’ll drink to that. All workday long.
- Use the flight attendant call button on the plane for some reason other than ‘my kid is about to throw up’. I’ve never actually done it for any other reason, but I bet you feel fancy. And, as a bonus, the flight attendant is probably more enthusiastic.
- Wear sunglasses inside, with a buttoned trench coat. I think you have to do both, though; glasses only and people will assume you’re hung over or on the cusp of getting lasik. The trench is what pushes it over to “classy.” Buttoned, though, so you might–just might–be naked under there. If that combo doesn’t say “celebrity,” I don’t know what does.
- Write a blog. Where you cover–in painstaking detail–emails you sent to your family while driving in slow traffic, making them seem important and yourself seem cool and witty. No one will know that you’re crafting the post from your basement, in your pajamas and slippers, having just binge eaten all of your youngest daughter’s gummy bears, writing mostly to avoid making lunches for tomorrow. They won’t know. They’ll just see the glamour.
Nearly Effortless Rockstar.