So earlier today I was at Chuck-e-Cheese with my kids, and these really sweet middle school students recognized me and came up to me and were like, “Are you John Green?”
And I was like, “Yeah,” and then one of them in the nicest way possible started kind of screaming, which made Alice really nervous, because, like, why is this stranger screaming at my dad? This happens to Alice more frequently than it happens to most one-year-olds, I guess, but she’s still not totally accustomed to it.
Anyway, later they came up to me while Henry and I were trying to get Alice excited about skee-ball, and they asked for autographs, and they were so nice and polite about it. I want to emphasize that these were great kids, and that I really enjoyed meeting them. And then one of them was like, “Can I ask you a question?” And I said sure. And she said, “How come you’re out in public with your children just at like a regular place without any bodyguards or anything?”
And I didn’t really know what to do with that question, because the honest answer is, you know, my kids wanted to go to Chuck-e-Cheese, and my wife is in New Orleans, so if anyone was going to take them it was gonna be me, and I didn’t have a bodyguard, because like 1. I bet they are expensive and 2. how do you even hire a bodyguard? and 3. I don’t think even the most committed bodyguard could handle Chuck-e-Cheese on a Saturday.
And then one of the other kids asked, “Do you live in a mansion?” And I didn’t really know how to answer that question—I mean, my house has three bedrooms and 2,200 square feet, which is a mansion by almost any historical standards but almost exactly average for homes in Indianapolis—so I was like, “Not really I don’t think?”
Anyway, I realized in the conversation (which was abbreviated by Alice wandering away from the skee-ball) that while I feel like my relationship with my self and my work and my audience hasn’t changed much since 2007, it probably has.
(It’s worth noting, though, that in 2007 I had what I considered to be a pretty broad readership for my books and LFA had won the Printz and everything.) So it’s really hard to see from the inside if “fame” has ‘changed me,” because the biggest changes in my life as I experience it have had nothing to do with my career, because the biggest change by far is that we had two kids. And I do think that because I’m protective of them and their privacy, my ways of talking about myself and my life have changed some. I’m sure, too, that being aware that people outside of nerdfighteria may read what I write/hear what I say has made me more cautious online.
But honestly, it doesn’t feel that different to me. I think the Internet has changed a lot since 2007, and the way we experience and express community has changed, but I’m still really happy when people come up to me when I’m out and say they like something I’ve worked on, and ultimately if anything I’m MORE excited about being a nerdfighter than I was in 2007.