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The Day I Met Óscar Pareja in My Pajamas

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I’m a pro at awkward celebrity encounters.

Orlando City SC seaon opener Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

It doesn’t happen every day, meeting someone famous. You could plan for those encounters, practice what you might say, plan what you’ll wear, and more. For me, those moments weren’t planned and did not go at all as I had hoped they would.

I can count on a single hand my three, very awkward encounters with (relatively) famous individuals. The first happened when I was in the third grade. Alan Jackson was playing a benefit concert in a Walmart parking lot in a town close to us. My parents liked him then, but I was excited to see Rick Trevino open for him. I’d played his tape so many times I wore through it and needed a second copy.

We waited in line for almost three hours following the show and I did it. I practiced what I would say and how I would ask him to sign my super cool, oversized, jean jacket. When I got to the table, he smiled and asked my name and I froze. A strange squeak came out and even after prompting from my patient parents, I never told him my name.

The next encounter was two summers ago. My favorite band, New Found Glory, was in Orlando and we upgraded our House of Blues experience to join the band for their pre-show rehearsal. Much to our surprise, lead singer Jordan Pundik jumped down and started taking pictures with fans. My husband worked really hard for me to get the chance. I’m just over five feet tall and he’s got at least a foot on me. I tried to stand on my toes at the same time he tried to crouch, and as my luck would have it I smacked my head right into his, he gasped, I froze, and it was on to the next.

My latest experience was just as awkward. It’s important that you all know I am not a morning person. So, I want you to picture an anti-morning person, in her pajamas, eyes still crusty, and hair all over the place. Do you have her? It me!

My husband and I were walking the dogs one morning, and our puppy, who fears anything with wheels, started losing her mind. We both worked to calm her down and then looked up to apologize to the person at whom she was now growling. Guess what I did? I froze, jaw open of course, slowly turned to my husband and there he was with the same dumb look on his face. We rounded the corner and watched as Orlando City Head Coach Óscar Pareja loaded his car. He looked up and smiled at us and I started uncontrollably waving at the man — a full Forrest Gump wave — begging my arm to stop.

It gets worse.

After he waved back, my husband leans forward on one leg and says, “We love you,” at a slightly higher octave than normal before hanging his head, seemingly begging himself to stop too.

All this is to say, they were all very kind as I so awkwardly tried to say hello.


Have you had any strange interactions with celebrities? More importantly, any advice for one super awkward woman to not be so weird?