Making Things – Also, How Not to Make a Good Impression on Famous People Who Might Just Be People After All

I love Adam Savage. I watch/listen to every one of his interviews I can find. He talks a lot about being creative, or as it’s called now, being a maker. I like his curiosity about the world, his geeky fanishness about so many great movies, and his love of recreating props and costumes. He’s amazingly knowledgeable about many, many things.

I have one Adam Savage story, my “Brush with Greatness” – didn’t Letterman have a segment like that, where he’d invite people to tell stories about their stupid encounters with somebody famous? I think it was Letterman. Here’s mine about Adam Savage.

Every Christmas, we try to come up with a family gift, something everyone can enjoy. A couple of years ago, the gift my husband and I got for the family was tickets to go to the Behind the Myths tour with Jaime Heineman and Adam Savage (the Mythbusters, you know?). The show was coming through Portland in late January, if I remember correctly. The day finally came and we were all pretty excited. Well, I was, anyway. We found our seats, not too far back in the middle section of the theater, and waited. Finally the show started and Adam and Jaime came out onto the stage. Thunderous applause; they had to wait until everyone settled down so they could start their intro. I could see Adam Savage look at me, so I gave him a little wave.

Adam did not wave back, all professional and distant and coolly detached, like an actor: “Oh, hello lowly peon in the audience. I see you there. I will pretend to greet you so that I appear human.” That is what I expected. I’ve seen it a thousand times on TV – on shows like Letterman, come to think of it. Actors point at various people in the audience, give winks and waves and generally ham it up. Right?

But Adam is not an actor. He is, apparently, a genuine human being. So instead of giving me the Famous Person casual nod, he leaned forward, shaded his eyes from the stage lights, and peered, trying to get a good look at me. I realized he thought I was a friend of his he was forgetting and he was trying really, really hard to recognize me so he could wave back: “Hello, old friend! I’m glad you’re here!”

I was mortified. Now what should I do? He didn’t know me. I felt like I was trying to cheat, trying to pretend a relationship we did not have. I felt like I’d accidentally invaded his privacy, like calling his cell phone when I shouldn’t even have the number. I just wanted to get him to wave at me, not have him practically come down into the audience and ask, “Sorry, I’m having trouble placing you. Where did we meet? What’s your name again?” I gave him a little shrug and looked away, anywhere, up, down. I wanted to sink into the floor. So. Embarrassed.

Other than that humiliating moment it was a great show and I enjoyed myself immensely.

Here’s the latest talk he gave about making things, which he calls the ten commandments of making. If you haven’t seen it yet, I think you might appreciate it. And if you happen to know Adam, tell him I said hello.


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