I do not have a typical place of work. It isn’t like people surround a copy machine or a water cooler to have discussions about the latest episode of a popular TV show or to ponder the latest moves out of Washington DC. Conversations happen in hallways and classrooms and usually focus on the most ridiculous thing said that day by a kid. Occasionally, there might be discussions about having digital copies of a handout or what people are doing the next day in whatever class. Rarely is there discussion about personal lives or what people are doing over the weekend. Those types of conversations only happen if people go out for a drink after work or on those teacher work days. We just don’t have time for anything else, which is why I didn’t know what to do earlier this week when I popped into the staff lounge and had to react to an actual personal question!
As I walked into the staff lounge to heat up my coffee, I spotted a women who is a frequent substitute flipping through a magazine who glanced up when I walked in. We greeted each other with some normal small talk when the conversation takes a turn. “I heard you were a Duran Duran fan,” she said innocently enough. I literally stopped moving. I didn’t know what to say. For some reason, I felt uncomfortable, almost awkward. Why? I responded in the affirmative, hoping that this ended the conversation. Instead, she continued by telling me how much she loved them when she was in high school and how cute John Taylor was. I nodded while I watched the microwave time. She went on to say that she thought the “original” drummer was really cute, too. I could no longer keep quiet. I questioned, “Roger? Yeah, he still looks good.” This caught her attention. “The original drummer?” she wondered. Like I might respond to a student question, I explained how, yes, the original drummer, Roger, was back and had been back for over a decade. Ignoring that statement, she brought up when Simon almost drowned when the yacht capsized and asked if I remembered that. As I tried to keep up with what seemed like random memories, I nodded. As the microwave beeped, I gave a silent, “thank goodness,” as I turned to leave.
Before I could get out, she asked me about Vegas. “Oh yeah, I heard that you went to Vegas to see them. How was the show? Was it good? I know someone else who went to the show.” I couldn’t ignore the comment and told her that I did, indeed, go to Vegas and that, yes, the show was good. She repeated the question, “It was good?” At this point, I swallowed the urge to just let all things Duran in a quest to educate her and restrained myself by saying, “Yeah, they pretty much always put on a good show. I have seen a few shows.” As I left the room, I realized that I was uncomfortable the entire time. Why? What’s that about?
My first thought about why was the stigma that fans experience. Did I feel judged or that she thought less of me because I was a fan? I don’t really think that was the case. There was no judgment. If anything, she demonstrated a level of enthusiasm that I should have appreciated. Was I upset that she knew I was a Duranie? I don’t think so. After all, I have worn Duran shirts and have a Duran Duran lunch bag. I have pictures of the band on the wall by my desk so I am not hiding that fact. Was I weirded out that she was almost too enthusiastic? In many ways, she sounded like so many people who loved the band in the 80s as they find themselves back in the fandom. She definitely knew some stuff from the band’s history in the 80s.
As I try to figure out my weird reaction, I have to acknowledge that it is all on me. She didn’t do anything wrong or weird. This is all on me. So what is the deal? While I’m not sure I think it is a couple of things. First, I resisted the urge to really tell her all about the band even though I desperately wanted to. I longed to tell her about the reunion and all of the albums and tours since then up until the present day but…I didn’t. Why? One reason is the lack of time that exists on a daily basis at my job. I had to get ready for my next class. On top of that, I knew that if I started talking Duran, I wouldn’t be able to stop. After all, I have a lot to say about the band and being a fan of theirs. I know that sometimes my intensity gets to be too much. While I love sharing all I know, others, even fans, might not. I recognize that.
The other reason that I felt awkward at this conversation is that the term “fan” didn’t feel right. This isn’t because I’m ashamed of my fan status or that I worried about the stigma connected with the term. No, it was the exact opposite. Fan felt inadequate. I’m a fan of Reese peanut butter eggs and wearing jeans. My connection to Duran Duran feels a lot more than that three letter word. Yes, I’m a fan but it is more than that. I bet a lot of you reading this get what I’m trying to say even if I am being totally inarticulate here. Reading and writing blogs about a band and being a fan of that band means that you are more than just a fan but a serious one, a hardcore one. That is really what I wanted to say. I wanted to say, “Heck yes, I’m a fan. I’m a huge Duranie. I have seen them live more than fifty times and hope to get at least one hundred times more. I love them so much that I have a blog about being a fan. In fact, my friend and I who write the blog post pretty much each and every day. We are that dedicated (or insane–depending on how you look at it.) If you love the band as much as I do, then I would love to share what they have been up to for the last decade or so. I think you will fall in love with them all over again.” But I didn’t say any of that. It would have felt too personal. It is like this random person would know too much about me and what I love.