Yes Ma'am

If one more person calls me "Ma'am", heads are gonna roll.

The most recent head to be in danger was the guy working at Jamba Juice today. Don't you know that someone ordering a big peanut butter shake isn't a ma'am? How can you *not* realize that anyone who orders that much suger isn't concerned about diabetes and is therefore youthful and "miss"-like?


The problem is, it's rampant. I have been called ma'am so much that I don't even respond to Lilly anymore. I'm not sure when it happened either. Did I suddenly get serious looking? Did I suddenly get grey? (I did, but they don't know that, because I pluck those fuckers out asap). Do I get wrinkles when I frown? Wait, let's not answer that.

So apparently the world sees me as one thousand years old. Yay. But the good news is, I have retained my energetic youth all the while. Sometimes it's slow to heat up, but my inner Lilly still pops up now and then. Most recently, it made an appearance at BEA, the book expo.

What you need to know about book expo: it's a convention I attend practically every year. Publishers come and show off their new and upcoming books and feature some celebrity authors for signings. It's like a fashion show for nerds. Instead of gasping and oohing and ahhing over the latest Nina Ricci dress, you oooh and ahh and shove people out of the way for a copy of the latest Salman Rushdie novel. Totally my style!

What you really need to know about book expo: Kirk Cameron was there this year.

Now, for those of you who didn't grow up next door to me (Hi Susie!), Kirk was my first love. That Mike Seaver smile won me over every week on Growing Pains. (Granted, sometimes my gaze strayed to his dad on the show, Alan Thicke, who was a total DILF, but for the most part I was loyal. Sorry Kirk.) I loved him, I loved how he misbehaved, I loved how he was dumb but sweet, I loved how he teased Carol and misled Ben. I adored him as he dragged the looooong kitchen phone cord around (did anyone else notice that?) I laughed at his clueless friend "Boner" Stabbone (although I wouldn't realize how freaking funny the nickname was until a good 10 years later).

Bottom line is, I understood Kirk. And I knew years later when we were living a life of domestic bliss (I'd be best friends with my sister-in-law Candace, but probably wouldn't invite Bob Saget to our parties), he would appreciate my "kirk notebook", a scrapbook of clips of him from Teen, Bop! and Tigerbeat. God knows I worked hard enough on it. Like a midwesterner scrapbooking for her grandkid, I painstakingly saved and pasted together his life, as much for him as for me. All along, I knew we'd meet.

And I was apparently right!

When I saw his name in the listing of guest authors, I waited for my heart to skip a beat. It didn't quite do that. I wanted it to, and I waited, but nothing came. I considered skipping it- I mean, what grown woman, what "ma'am", would go to something like that by herself (the answer, I would find out, was apparently hundreds of them, but I didn't know that yet!). I mentioned it lightly to my friend and next thing I new she had convinced me to meet her an hour earlier in the morning so we could line up.

The line was exactly what you might expect of Kirk Cameron fanatics. They were all hovering around 30 years old, and they were the giddy I had expected myself to be. A girl a few people in front of us was fanning herself and saying "be cool, be coool!" to...herself. It was like a throwback mall scene from 1987.

When our turn came up, I heard the girls in front of us introduce themselves. "HI KIRK! WE"RE SISTERS!!!!!" Kirk, ever so witty, said "I never would have guessed." to the (proven) dumb blondes. For just a moment in time I understood how annoying it must be to field inane fan comments all day. We snapped a picture for them and they agreed to do the same.

We just said "hi how are you" to him, and got our books signed. He asked my name (out of love, no doubt) and signed the book to me. I wracked my brain trying to think of what questions I had for him, but I really had none. I just didn't care anymore. And it was that kind of deep satisfaction that you get when you see any ex and don't have any pitter patter at all. Anyway, I turned around and we got the picture. The stupid blonds were at least consistent in their stupid stupidity- they were incapable of taking an even reasonable photo of me. I have attached Exhibit A above for your endless amusement.

If you're wondering, of *course* I'm going to read STILL GROWING. I want to know about his turn to evangelical Christianity, and I want to hear about his sordid days as a teen pop icon. I want to read about his "Way of the Warrior" and I want to finally understand why people are obsessed with his video about how God's existence is completely explained by bananas (note to self: youtube that). My experience meeting him was quiet and personal, and it's something I've told people about and have put behind me.

I wish I could say the same for my friend Julie, who the next morning found a picture of herself grinning, holding up his book splashed across... the LA Times book blog for the whole world to enjoy.

It was anticlimactic, meeting Kirk. The butterflies never came, possibly because my type of guy has changed tremendously with time. But I did get the closure I needed to move forward with my own life and to allow him to go forward with his. I know it's going to be harder for him than me, of course.

In an ironic post-script, Alan Thicke was signing as well that weekend. As fate would have it, I didn't meet Jason Seaver, and he may not know the Way of the Warrior, but I think he might have put a little more "thump" in this old ma'am's heart.

the postscripts
ps. Yes, I realize I look like a chubby troll in this picture. I just think it's funny because of COURSE the one shot I get at a photo with a minor celebrity I have to look like ass. Of course.

pps. Kirk, is that money in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?