I distinctly remember the sketch. I was quite proud of it. The shading, the detail, the care with which I studied a picture I found on the computer (which wasn't as easy or instantaneous pre-Google Images.) I don't know where that picture is today, but I never forgot its significance. He was the first celebrity I'd ever become truly enamored with, and to this day is perhaps the only one.
You can imagine what the idea of meeting him would do to me, and the fantasies I've had of what I'd say, how I would contain myself, what the setting would be...
So when I found out he was giving a "talk" at the Times Center as part of NYTimes' Arts & Leisure week, I sprinted to the computer to purchase tix.
The day came and I went with Rebecca, who appreciated my excitement in the way that only a few choice people in my life can, and was of course excited herself (a fellow NIN fan).
As he walked on stage, the heart palpitations quickened, but very soon after he and the interviewer started talking, they just as quickly died.
I blame the interviewer. His name: Jon Pareles. His occupation: decorated music critic and musician of countless instruments, author of countless musical analyses, etc., etc. What his credentials amounted to: A terrible interview with a less than approachable interviewee and a superbly awkward interviewer, which all amounted to an hour and a half of pretty bad journalism.
I take that back. An hour and 15 minutes of bad journalism. The last 15 minutes was opened to the audience for questions, and that's when, thank god, real questions arose. I ran to the microphone as fast as I've run to catch a subway closing its doors, and got the third spot in line. I then realized, in minutes I would be asking Trent Reznor a question, and he would be looking right at me and then answering said question, essentially TALKING TO ME.
The heart palpitations were back in full force - much stronger this time particularly because I had no clue at all what I was going to ask him.
I decided I was not going to go the way of the crowd and ask him some intellectualized question about music that I didn't really care to know the answer to. (I didn't mention, though it was implied, that every question Mr. Pareles asked was about music, to the point of mind-numbing boredom - think, "Why did you choose to use that sustained D in..." Shoot me.)
So I decided - if there's one thing I know about, at least a little, it's social media, and I know that Trent took a lot of flack for his dabbling in and stepping out of it namely via an infamous Twitter account.
My time came and I decided I couldn't let it pass without gushing just a teeny tiny bit. So here's basically what I said (mind you, this is the best memory I have of it - I pretty much blanked out before, during and after from nerves):
"I have to gush just a little bit myself. I'm probably not as much of a music aficionado as many of the people in this room. But I remember that in seventh grade, a boy who liked me showed up at my door with Pretty Hate Machine. And the rest is history.
I took a deep breath, having actually gotten through this and still being able to breathe, and stepped back to wait for his answer. Needless to say, it was sort of disappointing. He dodged the question for the most part, diverting attention to the fact that people who were doing that were crazy (which got an audience laugh, so more points there) and not really saying much about how he really feels about social media - which I think was a big miss for him, since the entire talk he was giving was meant to be about his role as the score composer for The Social Network (for which he won a Golden Globe a few weeks later.)
All in all, the thrill of having him look at me as I was actually speaking words TO HIM, was worth it all - even worth sitting through an entirely boring interview that I'd paid nearly 40 bux for.
Maybe one day I'll really meet Trent - without a microphone and an audience between us. But as his lyric said, "If I can't have everything, well then just give me a taste."
At least I got that.