An urban legend from my personal life finds a friend of a friend meeting Lauryn Hill backstage after a show in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He approached her, handed her a slip of paper with his ten numbers scrawled across the top and said, “you can call me, but I might be busy.”
I never met the man whose brain conjured such a scheme. I can’t even testify to the veracity of this anecdote. It may have just been a passing thought this person had on his way to or from the Fugee’s performance at Eastern Michigan University, a thought that became a memory through boastful conversations with friends in the following days.
But more than 10 years later I remember the story.
The absurd confidence displayed by such a gesture may also be described as hubris. Clearly, there isn’t a man breathing who doesn’t have time for a chat with Lauryn Hill. And this, of course, is where we discover the slight-chuckle-worthy humor in my little story.
I wonder now why I’ve retained this anecdote for so long, why it’s been sitting there in the back of my mind, collecting dust in my rolodex of stories to tell at parties or dinners with friends, waiting to be pulled out when any number of relevant topics are breached.
Perhaps the most notable reason, or the one that’s made the most sense to me, is that I’ve never understood that sort of confidence to begin with. I’ve never, not for one moment in my life, felt wanted. I consider this story and only see the failure of this quality that I struggle to attain.
So maybe I need this story to end differently. Maybe Lauryn Hill needed to laugh at the arrogance and smile at the young man who held out a torn up flyer with smeared ball point numbers scribbled on the back. Maybe she needed to take that man’s hand and fulfill whatever it was he sought to accomplish that day. Because in my mind, she simply rolled her eyes. She may have taken the number with a careless grip, but released it when he turned his back. It floated to the ground. It was trampled in the hall then swept up with the trash.