A Celebrity to One

With nearly everybody searching for fame, only some are lucky to be showered by the healthy kind

We live in the age of the celebrity, a time when everybody wants to be famous. So powerful is the lust for fame that we're prepared to acquire it through personal humiliation. Every day scores of people go on television talk shows and reveal their most embarrassing secrets--the affairs they're having, the money they've stolen, the aliens that have abducted them--all in an effort to get their 15 minutes.

To be sure, in every generation people have wanted fame. But they weren't prepared to pay any price for it. A man in Wisconsin who killed eight people wrote to the police to say that he continued killing because after the first two murders his name hadn't appeared in the newspapers.

Is it possible that the modern lust for fame actually stems from not feeling loved? Is it possible that we all require public approbation today because few of us receive private adulation?

The essence of a relationship is to be a celebrity--a celebrity only to one person. There's this man to whom you're famous. He puts your picture up on his wall, saves your silly mementos, stares at you when you're both out in public. When you walk into the room he drops everything to notice you. And he's totally absorbed by your presence.

A celebrity to one might have only one fan, but that fan is a


fan--one who's never going to drop you for a younger starlet. If you go bankrupt or develop three chins, your devoted fan will still stick around.


If you suffer public ridicule, she won't abandon you. As you grow older, your picture won't come down from the wall and replaced by a picture of a newer quarterback. Your fame is not ephemeral in your fan's eyes. It's eternal.

I sometimes hang around and offer counsel to some famous people, and I've noticed a curious phenomenon about being a celebrity. They start out wishing they were famous. They work hard at their music or acting careers. Little by little it happens. People start reading about them in the papers, then seeing them on television, then recognizing them on the street. Before they know it, their dream has become a reality. They're famous. All over America, people talk about them at dinner parties.

Suddenly, a curious phenomenon comes to pass. After achieving all the public recognition they'd sought, they become reclusive. They get sick and tired of people bugging them on the streets. They shrug off autograph seekers. They begin wear dark sunglasses and checking into hotels under fictitious names.

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