Did I wake up that morning thinking I’d meet her? No, I did not, but there was a chill in the air from the North and I was having a good hair day, so you could say there were some signs.
And of course I had imagined it the way I still imagine sitting front row at the off, off Broadway production of Matt and Ben (curse my high school self’s sense of social importance for preventing me from seeing this work of gold!.) I’d walk up to her majesty and pretend like we had met before. I could see it all now. I’d call her red jumper “bold” and she’d tell me she liked my new Zara coat — “classic yet current,” she’d say. Soon enough we’d be chatting about her time playing Ben Affleck, the writer’s room at The Office, and the struggle of being a woman in comedy.
Somebody would snap a picture of us assuming I was also a celebrity because of the comfortable and candid nature of our interaction. The picture would get retweeted endlessly
by the like twelve followers I have till it inevitably ends up on Perez with the caption “Mindy and her new bestie, Aly, a writer currently living in Austin” and then he’d say something cheeky like, “watch out Mindy, that new bestie has some serious styleZz” or “this girl gives writers a GOOD-LOOKING name.” Seriously, I could be like Karlie Kloss to Taylor Swift, except for the whole me not being a supermodel thing.
The day it happened as I said, I was wearing my new Zara coat because I recently decided Zara was super chic and also so it wasn’t obvious that I was not in possession of a festival badge. (SXSW Hierarchy breakdown: badges get you in to everything, wristbands get you into almost everything, having neither gets you in a line for three hours to see some random indie band from fifty yards away.)
So as I approached the Austin Convention center with Matti, badgeless save for the press badge I consistently imagine myself wearing, I readied myself. Sure, even existing in the same building as Mindy Kaling was enough to brag about for days but I needed to actually see her, breathe in her full-bodied, female talent or whatever. When we entered the building it was clear that security was ready for me — every possible entrance to upstairs, (or heaven as I came to see it) was guarded by some volunteer who’s only job was to shame people without badges into not asking if they could go upstairs. I eyed my target by the elevator, an innocent looking young man who reminded me of the skinny Conor Oberst fans I used to make fall in love with me in middle school — so, I had this in the bag.
“How do I get upstairs?” I asked the the fifteen-year old guarding the elevator.
“Probably by using that elevator.” Well, that was easy.
I liked his style, direct, to the point. As I hopped on to the elevator, Matti was caught by the Connor Obersty looking temple guard as he exclaimed, “Badges, only, people, badges only!” Apparently, the boy had turned in to an angry Newsie after I entered the elevator.
I felt unjustifiably avenged as I rode the elevator to my ultimate destiny while Matti was left behind in the figurative dust. “Female comics unite!” I repeated over and over under my breath like my own personal Captain Planet mantra.
The older, badge-holding woman standing next to me in the elevator chimed in, “he’s not going to get up here without a badge.” and then as the statement left her lips lined with a magenta pencil, she started to look me up and down, “wait do you even have a badge?”
“YOU WILL NOT RUIN THIS FOR ME,” I loud whispered at her as we exited the elevator.
And then I saw her. Doves flew from under the table she was signing at and I could have sworn I heard Beyonce live-singing “Who run the world? Girls!!!” in the background like I was slow-motion-walking into my future or some shit.
After waiting in line for about 30 minutes the devil dressed in a “Volunteer SXSW” t-shirt came up to me and the others in line, put his hand straight out in front of me and said, “this is where the cut off will be to meet Mindy, but you’re welcome to stay and see if she has more time!”
I immediately hated him and all of the decisions that led him to this exact moment, denying me access to the my idol, my future writing partner and best friend. Of course I stayed and waited. And as we inched closer and closer in line she was right there in front of me. Her teeth were more imperfect than I had imagined which only made our bond stronger as I like to brag that my teeth “have character” that way people are less inclined to poke fun at my snaggle tooth, you know, because I choose to like it.
True to the devil’s word, the lucky rotund seventeen-year old with a badger her daddy probably bought for her (or I just have to imagine this to make myself feel better) was the last person in line to have a converstaion and picture taken with Mindy.
“Not so fast!” I said to myself, apparently audibly. I ran out in front of the table where Mindy was signing and started to bow. For some reason, bowing was the one thing that came to my mind to do. Do I regret it? No. I regret nothing. (Except for that time a couple of days ago when I saw Daniel Esquivel from Project Runway at the local food co-op and I didn’t tell him how much I loved his purse).
“Mindy…I just… wanted to…”
“INTERACT WITH HER!?” Some blockhead yelled from behind me, as if this were her moment with the queen (of course, her instinctual completion of my sentence was completely accurate but that’s beside the point).
“Hi!” Mindy mused, like an angel, “well it was a really good interaction.”
And then I bowed again because apparently that’s my thing when faced with overly exciting, fabulous situations. I just bow it out.
I then convinced Mindy to sign her remaining head shots to give out to the rest of us mere mortals. She thought it was “the best idea!” so you could say we’re friends now. I may still be waiting for that whole Perez Hilton story thing but at least I came away with an almost friend in Mindy and a new found confidence in wearing loud jumpsuits. So, win-win.
P.S. – I also met Stephanie Beatriz and Melissa Fumero from Brooklyn 99 after. They told me “they liked my whole outfit I had going on.” Despite not really knowing if that was a compliment I’m pretty sure they’re going to look me up when they’re back in town.