I am 46 years old, and I think I can tell you that I’m just about over having crushes. The thing with Prince remains eternal, but I’ve accepted in my heart that we could never be together. I’ve believed since I was 15 years old that our heights made us compatible, but the truth is that by all reports, the man’s a (really beautiful) lunatic, and really, I think that would be exhausting to live with. I’ve never been the sort of person to lose my mind over a rock star, I didn’t have a poster of Duran Duran, and I (mostly) don’t feel faint when I run into the occasional famous person. I’ve just never been the type. Joe and I have had lots of conversations with our kids about whether or not most of the celebrities they have crushes on are really probably all they’re cracked up to be. We talked with them a lot about how being good looking, or really popular, without any sort of evidence that they’re a good person trying to do good things shouldn’t be enough to get you to toss that much emotional energy their way – and a jerk is still a jerk, and being “a personality” isn’t a job, no matter what it pays and no matter how many TV shows you get to be on.
All of this is very sensible, and super grown up, and means that I’ve never really had a good grip on what a Kardashian is or why I would care, and so you could have knocked me over with a feather this afternoon when I discovered that during a quick visit with a someone – I was suffering a full on, insane crush. This person walked up, shook my hand, we started to talk, and I wanted to say nothing more than I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. Which is insane. That’s absolutely insane, and thank heaven I managed to keep that from coming out, because of course I don’t love him. I don’t even know him and there’s no way that I could love him but it’s still what I wanted to say. Instead I asked him to hold my sock for a picture, and said “This is probably the dorkiest thing that anybody’s ever asked you to do….” and he said “that depends on what you’re going to ask me to do…” and then I said “Probably it’s not the dorkiest thing you’ve ever been asked to do because you’re an astronaut and well… that seems like it would have a lot of dorky stuff with it” and then COMMANDER CHRIS HADFIELD smiled, and asked how he should hold the sock. I told him it was deeply personal, and he should do whatever felt right.*
He did, with all the charm that we’ve come to expect from him – and the whole time we chatted briefly, and spoke a little about book tours, his and mine, and then it was over, and I’m pretty sure that I made sense the whole time, and even said “Thanks Chris.”**
If there had been time *** or if I hadn’t been so busy being the biggest dork in the world I would have told him that I didn’t really have a crush on him. I would have told him that I was just so impressed with him, not just for what he’s done, but for how he’s done it. Chris Hadfield lived for six months in space, and that whole time, and ever since he’s been back, he’s done his best to show us all what it was like, and frame it all in a way that we could share in the miracle of the whole thing. He tweeted from space, he talked to kids who won science challenges and did their experiments for them, he answered questions, (knowing that kids really want to know some gross stuff) he recorded music, he took part in concerts, he’s celebrated being Canadian, and more than anything else, he made it so, so cool to be smart.
Chris Hadfield is exactly who I want everybody crushing on, because there are billions of people on earth, and only 216 of them have ever, ever been to the space station, and out of all of those, only 81 people have been there twice, and he’s one of them, and I want so badly to know what he knows, and to feel what he’s felt, and to see what he’s seen, and I’m so grateful to him for making it seem like he takes as much joy in finding ways to tell us about the experience as we take in hearing it. He’s done such a remarkable thing, and so elegantly, and so creatively, while still making it clear that this all happened because he did his homework, worked hard, and stuck with something he cared about a lot. In a world that frequently debates twerking, and who should be famous for it, I’m getting behind this instead.
I’m pretty sure that Chris Hadfield is a nice man**** and he was certainly very nice to me, and a the end of the whole thing, He asked me if I’d like a picture, and honestly, I’d seen it in his hand and thought that I would say no thank you, because, as I’ve said, I’m not really the sort of person who had a Duran Duran poster, and I’m not sure I’d start hanging up pictures of celebrities at this age, and I didn’t want him to waste one. In that moment though, I thought about some people I know who have crushes on some people who don’t deserve it, and something came over me, and I said “Yes Please.” For the first time in my life, I’ve got a picture of a celebrity on my fridge, and I’m so cool with the message I’m sending. It’s dorky, but I think today the dorks win.*****
* I didn’t tell him what I really believe, which is that how someone approaches the odd moment in their life, moments like being asked to hold a sock for no good reason, really says a lot about their character, or lack thereof. I didn’t want to pressure him.
** I know. I called Commander Hadfield Chris. I can’t believe it either. He called me Steph.
***There totally wasn’t.
****Ok. So I don’t know him well enough to know for sure that’s he’s a nice guy, but I find it hard to believe that they’d lock you up in the Space Station twice if you were a huge jerk.
*****Actually, the dorkiest thing about today is that when I realized I was going to meet the man, I started a whole new sock, just so that the one I got him to hold could be knit from yarn called “Dark Side of the Moon.” I didn’t tell him that part. The dork factor was already super high.