Other than the lead singer of the country group Alabama, Randy Owen, whose son Heath is my age, I had never actually met anyone famous before. (I grew up in Fort Payne, Alabama; the same hometown as the group, during the 1980s and 1990s, which was the prime time of their success).
Honestly, I’ve never been the kind of person who has been too caught up in meeting celebrities. Since 2005, I’ve lived in the Nashville area, where you assume that everyday you’re unknowingly standing in the same room as some successful musician or songwriter.
But the way I’ve always perceived it, I felt it would be dehumanizing to reduce a celebrity to approaching them in an attempt to get their autograph, or these days, a selfie.
That’s why back on Valentine’s Day 2010, when I just happened to be in the Cool Springs Whole Foods getting flowers for my wife, and Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman where there having lunch, I did my best to pretend I didn’t see them.
Granted, I immediately texted my wife a picture from far across the store where Keith and Nicole hopefully didn’t catch me, but still… I had no interest in going up to them and making a fool of myself and saying, “Uh, hey, uh, Keith, man… I love your songs, man… that one where you talk about driving a car… and Nicole, you were my favorite part about the Val Kilmer Batman movie…”
But now, I have officially met a world-famous celebrity. And let me secret the record straight: She is the real deal.
I’m referring to Cat Deeley, the host of So You Think You Can Dance, and now also, This Time Next Year; the show where I made my TV debut this week.
In case you’ve seen my episode, “Dudes From Different Latitudes”, you know that I met Cat Deeley twice; with a year in between.
She truly is an exceptional human being. I can see why she was chosen as the host for this show; serving both as a sympathetic cheerleader and a bright narrator.
Granted, I was the token comic relief for my episode, as the other 5 guests on my episode had deep, heart-felt stories. So when it came time to meet me on the show, she had to shift her role to reflect the quirkiness of my personality and the novelty of my year-long goal.
I have to say, I wasn’t nervous at all. But had I been, she would have put my nerves at ease. That’s one of her many talents.
When we shot the first part of the episode out in some nameless, mysterious studio in Hollywood in November 2016, the director had Cat and I redo the end of the scene.
That’s because right before I stood up to go walk out that magical door for my year-long journey, she hugged me in support of my goal.
But the moment after I walked through the overly illuminated door, I was greeted by the producer, who explained with a smile, “You did great! But I’m being told we have to reshoot that last part. Cat hugged you. She’s not supposed to hug anyone on the show.”
So we redid that part, and this time, she remembered not to hug me. But right before they pressed record, during those couple of seconds where no one could hear what she was saying but me, she told me, “You’re freakin’ awesome.”
I share that story because it illustrates how warm and encouraging her personality is. I also sensed that was her way of saying, “I could use a laugh right about now,” in the midst of all the serious stories she had been hearing that day.
If so, I’m glad I could brighten her day, as she surely brightened everyone else’s.
Even if it’s a long shot, I hope she’s reading this now. I want her to know what an amazing job she’s done as a host on This Time Next Year.
And that’s the case with all the other people who were featured on the show with me. We all spent a lot of time together and got to learn each other’s stories. This was a common theme in every conversation:
“Wasn’t Cat just great? She has such a way of making a person feel comfortable and natural.”
So yes, that’s what we were all saying about her. And that’s what I’m saying about Cat Deeley again today.
Honestly, it would be my dream to co-host with her someday.
If nothing else, I can now officially say I have met a famous person. Plus, she handed me my guitar.
Yes, a famous person, who is really really cool, touched the same guitar I played the song “Dudes From Different Latitudes” on.
I think I’ll be bragging about that for a while.