Saturday, February 26, 2022

When I didn't meet Weird Al Yankovic

On the Late Show with Stephen Colbert the other night, the actor Thomas Lennon told the story of how he met "Weird Al" Yankovic (in an office supply store), which, along the news of a biopic of Mr. Yankovic starring Danielle Radcliffe being in production, reminded me of this:

A custom Lego mini-fig my wife
got for me a few years ago,
not from the event chronicled here.

Back on November 9, 2018, my wife and I took our then-pre-school-aged child to Disneyland. It was not the first visit for any of us, but this was the first time any of us went there on the first day of the park having its Christmas decorations up (or, at least, having the big tree on Main Street; there were parts of the park where the decorations were still in-process). 

Unsurprisingly, it was a warm autumn day in Anaheim, so it didn't really feel like the holidays but such is often the case in Southern California. Being a Thursday the park wasn't super crowded, which was nice, but being Disneyland there still were thousands of folks there with us.

At one point in the middle of the day I noticed that one of those people also at the park was "Weird Al" Yankovic. Yes, the Weird Al. Or just "Al" as I'll refer to him for the rest of this post; even though we aren't friends I feel like he wouldn't mind.

We were on Main Street and I had just taken our son to the men's room next to the fire station near the entrance. As we walked out there was Al walking toward us. 

I recognized him easily, not merely because I follow him on Instagram, but because I'd been a fan of his since 1980 (when I started hearing him on the Dr. Demento show). I'd seen him in concert twice. There is only one Al, so it was not difficult to identify him. 

Someone standing nearby stopped him to do a quick selfie with him, which of course he was happy to oblige. Then he passed right by us and went into the men's room, presumably to do what one does in there.

For a hot second I had the thought of taking our son back in but immediately I dismissed that; not only did that seem like stalking but there's no justification for spending more time in public restrooms than absolutely necessary. So we went back to meet my wife who was over at one of the shops on Main Street.

As my wife and son browsed in the store I stood by the door. I don't recall why, but I probably didn't feel like looking at overpriced merchandise (again). Glancing around the square, I noticed when Al came out of the men's room and lingered just outside by some benches. No one was approaching him. He stood there. And stood there. And stood there. Eventually it dawned on me that he was waiting for his wife and daughter to emerge from the women's room.

For a moment I thought, He's right there, I could just go talk to him. I even figured he'd be nice about it if I did. I pondered how to bring up how I'd been a big fan, but then sort of lapsed... and then I thought about... when I met Matt Groening.

You can go read all about that in this post from 2014, but the gist is when I met the Simpsons creator what I blurted out was less complimentary than it seemed when it was coming out of my mouth. 

While I have little doubt that anything I may have said would not be the worst thing he'd heard, in that moment at the Happiest Place on Earth, with Al a mere forty feet away, I didn't want to seem like the Dumbest Fan on Earth by having a repeat of that Groening incident, even to someone who's purported the Nicest Guy in Show Business. 

So I just stayed there in the doorway of the shop, trying to not be obvious about how I was looking at the restrooms. A minute or two later his family met him by the benches and they disappeared into the crowd, and we didn't encounter them again for the rest of our visit.

And it's okay. Frankly, I take a tiny bit of solace in having this story about not making an idiot of myself to someone I'd admired to tell rather than another tale of sticking my rhetorical foot in my mouth... again.

And hence why above I do not have a photo with Al to include here but instead the one of the custom Lego mini-fig which clearly is him but which clearly is not authorized so its name is... euphemistic.

Not all of us can be as cool as the Reno 911! star and become besties with the phenomenal "parody enthusiast."

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