How not to get tangled up in a brush with fame

Last week, there was a concert at Packard Music Hall by one Kevin Costner – bodyguard, prince of thieves, farmer. Like your Keanu Reeves and Kevin Bacons, he is best known for acting but also dabbles in music.

At some point after entertaining the crowd, Kevin made a run for the border, because if you build a burrito, he will come. That’s how a photo of a fan with Costner outside Taco Bell ended up in our newsroom.

A cute snapshot, the fan and Costner are all smiles. The encounter seemed innocuous enough. Costner seems gracious, as he has also been in a fan’s shoes.

If anyone remembers his appearance in the Madonna documentary “Truth or Dare,” Costner appears backstage after one of her shows, complimenting her performance. Madonna was not impressed, and makes a gag noise as soon as he leaves. Real nice, Madonna. And that was 1990 Costner, too. That’s like spitting out a vintage chateau then taking a slug of Mountain Dew.

Celebrity encounters may not go much better for us non-famous fans. I was cool as a cucumber when shaking hands with Louis C.K. Not so much with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor (chronicled in a previous column) and Mike Nelson (of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” fame and geek royalty). The former, I bothered twice: once at Cinnabon at Eastwood Mall, and then as part of a slew of screaming teenage girls in a “Hard Days’ Night”-esque mob. The latter endured my awkward autograph request as I mumbled some gobbledygook about leaf blowers.

I even managed to look more awkward than “Back to the Future’s” George McFly himself – Crispin Glover – in a photo after one of his film screenings.

After hearing for the umpteenth time from my mom the swimmingly perfect meeting she had with Metallica at a Rock Hall of Fame concert, I will present some do’s and do not’s when brushing with fame.

Don’t bring up your encounter ad nauseum, especially to your kids, who didn’t get to go to the Rock Hall concert. If it’s integral to conversation, fine. But we don’t need to hear about how you saw Bill Cowher at the airport (DAD) every time a piece of Steelers swag is visible (every two seconds). Just kidding, dad.

Know when to step in. Whether you are seeking out a celeb or if it’s happenstance, gauge whether they have the time, inclination, or patience to pause and say hi. All sweaty after a concert or shopping for cereal, it might not be a good time. A Googling can reveal how they tend to react to fan encounters.

Prepare to have your hopes dashed. Your brush with fame may not go as planned. Their real-life persona may not match what you see on stage or screen.

Do come equipped. If you are on the hunt for your favorite star, better have a Sharpie and cell camera ready to go. If you know Katy Perry gets a sheetza at Sheetz every weekend, carry around her CD or picture just in case.

They probably don’t want to hear about you. Unless your dad saved James Franco’s dad in Vietnam or something, he probably doesn’t want to hear your life story.

Be nice. No need to remind an Indian or Brown about the time they blew a big play. Say thank you if you get a photo or autograph.

Be genuine. If it’s someone you actually admire, don’t make like you just want them to stand still so you can be an Instagram hero for a day.

Don’t creep. No need to tell Twilight Dreamboat dude about the lock of his hair you bought on eBay.

Remember they’re just people. No need to be too nervous, but no need to be treated like dirt just because they’re on TV.

So if you see Kevin, Keanu or Kevin of the Bacon variety at Taco Bell, keep it cool. They eat their taco by spilling it all over themselves and then putting it back together, just like you and I.

Ever meet a celebrity? Tell me about it at