Humor Column: Extremely Minor Celebrity


Humor Column: Extremely Minor Celebrity

Rebecca Klempner

While eavesdropping on my kids, I often learn astonishing things. I have discovered that they are occasionally nice to each other (“Here. You take the last cookie.”) I have learned that my children have excellent imaginations. (One of my daughters, to one of my sons, about my other daughter, “She’s a fairy who is also a dragon!”) And I have learned that I am an extremely minor celebrity. Three-quarters of a celebrity, to be precise.

This is the conversation I overheard last week:

Kid 1: “Did you know Ima is famous?”

Kid 2: “She’s only three-quarters famous.”

Kid 1: “What does that even mean?”

Kid 2, after thinking a moment and with a confused look on her face: “Maybe her body is famous, but not her neshamah?”

At first, I thought she had confused me with Marilyn Monroe (who might have had a lovely personality, but that’s not what she’s famous for). Then I realized that she was struggling to articulate the following: While I’m a celebrity, I’m a celebrity to a very, very small share of the general population. These people include elementary school teachers in Jewish day schools, day school librarians, and parents of children aged three to fourteen.

And actual kids.

The kid part is the best part, really. It’s surprisingly thrilling to receive fan mail from schoolchildren, particularly in this electronic age. I do get fan mail from adults, but my books have thus far all been for children, and readers are far more likely to write fan mail after reading books than after a 600-word humor article or a 2500-word short story.

I’m not sure my family members feel the same way about my fans, though. My 12-year-old once received a phone call from a classmate. The classmate, though, didn’t want to talk to my son; rather, he wanted to ask on his sister’s behalf, “Did your mother write Glixman in a Fix?”

My son slammed down the phone.

On other occasion, my husband was teaching when a student from another class stuck his head into my husband’s classroom to ask, “Did your wife write Glixman in a Fix?”

My husband – who has suffered through this rigmarole on several other occasions and knew where this was headed – said, “Yes.”

“It’s very good! Can you tell her I said so?”

That evening, when I asked my husband the name of the boy who had given me this endorsement, my husband admitted he didn’t know. The kid had never told my husband his name! (I guess he thinks he’s famous, too.)

Lest you think that children are the only awkward fans, I will assure you they are not. Adults have phoned my home to tell me how much they love my books, sent me emails about articles I have written, and accosted me at afternoon pickup at my kids’ schools, the U-Pick farm, and even in shul. (I don’t mind it so much on weekdays, but on Shabbos, I’d rather not think about work.) Even more awkward are the people who write me about their great book idea – which I should write because I’m a real author – and the people who ask me to write for them for free.

The adoration is kinda flattering. But I’d rather take a positive Amazon review any day.