Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. Notice how he is ignoring Lykke Li to hug ME!

For most people, it was Ryan Gosling.

“You just missed him!”

“He was right here!”

“Tolly, just before you walked up, I swear to God he was eating a TACO right where you are STANDING.”

At Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011, I felt like Ryan Gosling’s reluctant shadow, never quite catching him, always doomed to follow. I didn’t mean to, mind you. It just seemed that he was everywhere, everywhere but my immediate five-foot radius, and each time I moved to a new location a friend would grab me to ask if I had just seen Ryan Gosling.

No, no, no, I hadn’t. I either didn’t have my proper Ryan Gosling radar on, or (less likely but far more intriguing) he was actively avoiding me. Didn’t want to be upstaged by my superior v-neck, you know.

Anyway, as Amy and I were strolling around the backstage/media area, a suspicious sight caught my eye:

-Skinny gray suit
-Artfully loosened tie
-Colorful beaded necklace
-Enormous, white man mop of curly hair…

“AMY,” I clutched her arm.

“Ryan Gosling?” she asked.

“NONOTRYANGOSLING,” I sputtered, “it’s Wayne! Wayne Coyne!!!!!”

As you may or may not know, I have a … thing, about Wayne Coyne.

It’s not a crush, exactly. At least not in the traditional sense. It’s more like this mixture of heart-bursting respect and deeply felt kinship. For a rockstar, he was a late bloomer: “She Don’t Use Jelly” became his first hit with The Flaming Lips, and he was 34 when that happened. He is probably rich, but he never left his hometown, Oklahoma City. And while so many hipster bands are disaffected and cool, The Flaming Lips still fist-pump throughout their confetti-, dancing Santa-, hamster ball-filled shows, while Wayne lovingly urges: “C’mon! C’MON mother fuckers! Sing with me! She don’t use butter…she don’t use cheese...” Wayne has no use for cynicism, preferring instead to bounce around on stage like a magician/The Mad Hatter.

(Forgive me if you know all this already; I just felt compelled to explain my almost spiritual levels of feelings toward Wayne Coyne for anyone who hasn’t read this blog long enough to know that.)

Ok SO, back to our story.

“It’s Wayne! Wayne Coyne!!!!!” I cried. Typically one to shy away from celebrity encounters, I marched straight up to him.

“Hi!” I said.

“Hi!” he said back.

“I just want you to know,” I began, “that your ACL 2010 show meant a lot to me. Like…a lot.”

“Oh yeah?” he asked, genuinely curious.

“Yes. I – well, I was on a high for a whole day afterwards! And then I almost drove up to Oklahoma City afterwards for your flaming march of the skeletons thing you do during Halloween! Ha!” Awkward giggle.

“Wow, you had a lot of me that year,” he said, smiling. I’m sure he gets this all the time.

“Yep! Well…anyway. I just really do respect everything you do, how you make your shows so big and artistic and how you seem to be so hippie and artistic yourself. You try all different projects and some of them work out, some of them don’t. I want to be that way!” This was getting confessional.

“Hey, thank you! We always try to bring the love in shows. I’m glad you feel it.”

Then, Amy tapped me on the shoulder. “Picture?” she asked us.

(This is why Amy is so, so good to have as a wingman. She is fearless about talking to artists and asking for pictures, and because she is irresistible, the artists never say no.)

His waist was teeny-tiny when I circled my arm around it.

After I told Wayne thank you, and walked away, Amy and I found a nearby stone ledge. I promptly sat down on it, buried my face in my hands, and CRIED.

My celebrity loyalties are so shallow and spread out by this point; I feel this way about very few people. Maybe Ann Patchett. But what is a fan, really? We’re a fickle bunch, fans in the 21st century. We can’t obsess over The Beatles the way our parents did. The fame channels are too crowded. But I cried like a proper fan on that ledge, and when my friend Allen Chen walked up to me to say hi in the middle of it, he hugged me in congratulations. Because he knew! He knew what it was like to freak out over a hero. I’m not the first and I certainly won’t be the last to cry over a Wayne Coyne encounter, but I’m so happy I got mine. He was just as nice as I thought he would be.

The funny thing about Fun Fun is though, is that I think a lot of people have these stories. The fest is smaller than ACL. More intimate. Artists feel, and literally are, closer to you: Amy met Neon Indian, The Joy Formidable and Austra last year. Here she is with Austra’s drummer Maya Postepski.

Don’t they look like an adorable, just-engaged lesbian couple?

So how about you? If you’re going to Fun Fun Fun Fest this year, who do you want to meet?

(To help answer that question, Amy made us a special Fun Fun mix. Enjoy! And tell us who you want to meet.)

FFF ’12 by Amy Haley on Grooveshark