I met Ryan Seacrest once. You might recognize him from American Idol or Rockin’ New Years Eve celebrations on TV. I knew him as a radio guy in a big city, with a cool job that I wanted. OK – I didn’t know him at all – and we hardly met, but I did run up to him on a trip to LA back in 2003 when he was just reaching stardom. His security guards weren’t nearby and the locals didn’t seem to pay much attention to the guy.
But I was giddy with excitement.
I was 22 years old and ready to take on the world. I had but one question for the slick haired TV star, “How did you get your job?”
He muttered something about working hard and internships before walking away. It was perfect.
I did it again last week. Only this time in my mind, the celebrity was much bigger than Ryan Seacrest. I wasn’t going to tell you guys about it. I didn’t want to embarrass myself or make you think that I’m a little bit off my rocker. But when I realized I’ve already done both of those things – several times – in the past couple years since we’ve been chatting, I decided to go for it.
Below is an e-mail I sent to Sharon Randall. Will I get a response? Not likely. But it’s sure fun to dream.
The Greatest Compliment
Sharon. Someone once told me…
“Leslie, you don’t know me, but I feel like I know you. You write like Sharon Randall, and she’s my favorite. You remind me of her, a lot. I just wanted to take a minute to tell you how much I enjoy reading your columns.”
I liked this compliment, even though I had no idea who you were. If we’re being very honest, I had never even heard your name or read your columns.
I know, the honesty is pouring out here. Sometimes I say too much.
“Thank you so much for the kind words,” I told the stranger. I didn’t reveal that I was clueless of your identity. I didn’t need to. I knew this Sharon gal had to be top notch.
Months passed and your name came up again.
“Hello Leslie,” said the stranger. “This is the first time I have ever responded to a columnist via email like this. I am an old guy, a grandparent, and a resident of Kearney since 1992. I have been a Sharon Randall fan for years now. Recently I have begun to read your columns too. You haven’t yet replaced Ms. Randall as my favorite columnist, but I have enjoyed reading your columns.
“Who is this Sharon lady,” I pondered. I was intrigued and made a note to do a little internet search to find out more about you.
But the days passed quickly and life got busy. My two girls – both under the age of 5 – have a way of making time fly by. “Google search Sharon Randall” stayed on my to-do list. And then one Saturday this spring, I picked up our local paper. Your picture was on the front.
“Ah – ha! That’s Sharon Randall!” I thought.
I immediately turned the page to your column, and then kicked myself when I realized you had visited central Nebraska – my neck of the woods, only weeks prior. I started a Google search to find more of your columns and then got distracted by a crying child. I think my 4 year old hit my 2 year old on the head or vice versa. Regardless, the reading would have to wait.
Weeks passed. My husband kept asking me if I was going to reach out to other local papers to expand my columns. It’s been almost two years since I started this gig, but I’ve never made time to do it. That was likely my excuse, deep down I’m probably just nervous. I’m an old TV gal – telling stories is natural for me but it is usually done on air not on paper. I stumbled into this little hobby of mine by chance when a good friend encouraged me to give it a try (which explains why I had never heard of this Sharon Randall lady). Could I really expand my random thoughts to other papers? Would anyone care?
And just like that, your name came up again when a stranger stopped me to say,
“Leslie! I love your columns. I only read yours and Sharon Randall’s.”
I looked you up that night. I poured myself a glass of wine and read through so many of your columns. I cried, I smiled and I filled with pride. What an honor to even be mentioned in the same sentence as Sharon Randall.
After I finished my glass – (or was it two glasses?) of wine, I told my husband I was going to write you and ask for your advice. To which he said, “Sure, Les. And I’ll just call up Mark Cuban. We’re old pals – I know he will return my phone call.”
He’s a smarty pants sometimes. But I sure love him.
And here we are. If you’re still reading, I am incredibly flattered. If you have any advice to send my way, I would truly blush. Regardless, I wanted to say…
“Thanks. I know you don’t know me, but I now feel like I know you. I just wanted to take a minute to tell you how much I enjoy reading your columns. Apparently I write like you. It’s one of the best compliments I have ever received.”