Superstar

How far would you be willing to go to become famous?

Meet Kaylee, a 14-year-old from Louisiana, otherwise known as “Hammer Girl”.

A die-hard fan of the Korean K-pop band, BTS, Kaylee got so excited about a band-member’s new hair style that she tweeted:

“He’s so beautiful I could shove a hammer in my mouth.”

Which—she did.   And— it got stuck.

The internet went bonkers and Kaylee played it to the hilt. Apparently, if you see a chance to be famous, you go for it!
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Is it just me or does everyone want to be famous these days?  Why is that?  Okay, the perks are good:   Adoring fans — a house in the Hamptons…a private jet.   I get it.  But what about the downsides of fame?

Let me share with you the three disadvantages of celebrity that I learned about — first-hand — during my four glorious — hours — of fame.
Travel back in time with me to February 1985 — Shimonoseki, Japan.  I’m 22 years old and have come to this small Japanese town as part of a government program to improve conversational English in the local junior high school system.  For many of the locals, this is the first time they’ve ever seen a foreigner, let alone an American.  Needless to say, people are rather interested in me.  Think Michael Jackson, combined with a Space Alien, mashed up with a Giant Dancing Panda,— that’s  how much I stand out.  It’s not long before a local TV station asks to do a feature on me for the nightly news.   The film crew will just follow me around on a school visit, maybe do a few interviews, nothing fancy. Right!

And so begins one of the strangest days of my life.

My first stop at Yamanaka junior high is 7th grade English, where I am to be interviewed by the film crew in front of the students.

Drawback to fame #1:   Being a celebrity means you will be asked personal questions!

My interviewer, Sato-san, is a petite, 30-year-old woman with a broad smile and ginormous eyes like a manga cartoon character.   Before you can say “Mt. Fuji”, she is firing questions at me at the speed of a bullet train.

“Mr. David, do you believe in God?”
“Mr. David, do you have a rubber”?  (I think she means “lover” but who knows?)
“Mr. David, do you own a gun?”

—Why yes, Sato-san, I do believe in God.
—Why no, Sato-san, I don’t have a rubber—at least not on me.
—Why no, Sato-san, I don’t own a gun.  (although I’d give anything right about now for some ninja throwing stars)

After Q&A, it’s time for my next stop, gym class, which brings me to…
Drawback of fame #2:   Being a celebrity means you will be asked to do embarrassing activities.

“Mr. David, won’t you play basketball with the students?”

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a decent basketball player, but I’m no Michael Jordan, which I think is what they’re all expecting.   It must be my towering height — 5 foot nine!  Up and down the court I run with my much smaller teammates…  “Shoot Mr. David, shoot!”  they yell.

I shoot—and miss.

“Shoot Mr. David, shoot!”

I shoot—and miss again.  And again and again.

You can do it, Mr. David!”

Okay, 15th time’s a charm, right?  I shoot and miraculously, this time it goes in — swish — nothing but net.  The crowd goes wild.  Although I appreciate the support, you all know what they’re really thinking.   “He isn’t Michael Jordan, is he?”

My final stop of the day is the school cafeteria.

Drawback of fame #3:  Being a celebrity means you will say embarrassing things on TV.

“Mr. David, won’t you eat lunch with the students?”

“Of course, Sato-san.”  Like I have a choice?

As it turns out, I handle the eating part of lunchtime without a hitch, managing to avoid dropping my chopsticks in the ramen.  No, it’s the post-lunch final interview that trips me up.

“Mr. David, please tell our viewers what do you think of the students here at Yamanaka Junior High school?”

Eager to show off my new vocabulary, I blurt out in Japanese, “I think they are very ‘kanashii’.” Sato-san’s smile disappears. The film crew averts their eyes. Oops!  What I meant to say was — “The students here are very nice.”  Unfortunately, the Japanese word for nice isn’t “kanashii”, it’s “yasashii”.    “Kanashii”, alas, means sad.  That’s right, I’ve just told the entire school and indeed, the entire prefecture, that their students are very, very sad.  Although I quickly correct my mistake, the damage is done!

Dear readers, being famous is clearly not all it’s cracked up to be. You will be asked personal questions about your personal life…You will be forced into embarrassing situations…And if you say the something wrong, no one will miss it, let alone forget it.
But hey, it could’ve been worse.

During lunch, I could’ve gotten my chopsticks stuck in my mouth. Meet “Chopsticks Boy”, the internet sensation!   And wouldn’t that be “kanashii”?!!

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