Published April 01 2011
Morast: Fargo’s ‘It Girl’ talks; but don't call her "It Girl"
And while I don’t think the local TV journalist will turn green and Hulk-out at the utterance of the phrase, I get the sense it kind of bothers her.
Sure, she’ll flash a polite smile if you throw the It Girl title her way, but you can tell there’s resentment behind those teeth that shine like polished seashells; resentment that screams “I want to be known for my work, not my celebrity!”
How do I know? Because I saw that look several times during an hourlong conversation with the woman who seems to inspire everyone in the Red River Valley to defend her honor like she’s their grandchild.
For those of you who need to catch up, last week I wrote a column about how Goetz’s exposure has increased in recent months to the point that she feels like the most popular person in the Fargo-Moorhead metroplex – I still think that’s true.
Problem is, people read it as a hatchet job, a chance for me to rip into a friendly face who didn’t see it coming. Over the past seven days, I’ve had people call and email me with everything from compliments about my “beautiful” tribute to Goetz to the accusation that I’m a jealous ex-boyfriend trying to extend my revenge.
Funny thing is Goetz has heard the same things. (And, for the record, we never dated. In fact, we hadn’t met until yesterday).
“It’s everyone’s interpretation,” she says of the column’s fallout. “I didn’t mind it. I thought it was entertaining.”
More importantly, the impassioned reaction reinforces the popularity of the blond, blue-eyed woman, even if she denies it.
“I am as normal as the farmer down the street and as normal as Dennis Walaker,” she says. “I don’t see myself as a celebrity. I really don’t.”
Not sure I’d call our mayor “normal.” (Just to clarify, I didn’t date him either.)
Regardless, Goetz’s anecdotes suggest she is a celebrity.
She says she’s approached by strangers every day she’s out in public – whether it’s working out in a gym or buying apples at a store – who offer comments about her journalism.
“It wasn’t always that way,” she says. “When I first started in Grand Forks, it happened once every three or four months.”
Naturally, that kind of attention makes me wonder if someone whose job shows her in full makeup feels obligated to be “dolled up” all the time.
The answer is no, mostly.
“Generally, I’ll always put on a little powder so I don’t look like a total zombie,” she says.
We wouldn’t expect anything less from our It Girl. Speaking of, how does she feel about holding the figurative crown?
“If people wanted me to wear it, I would absolutely,” she says. “But I hope it would be something I could share with other people.”
Well, she respects local philanthropists like Chris Linnares and Deb Dawson.
She’s good. Goetz responds to rapid-fire questions like a poised politician, her mind analyzing every word just before it comes out. But unlike so many of our political “leaders,” I think she’s sincere. And that’s why people like her: What you see is what you get.
Other observations from our chat:
•She’s very hydrated: During our entire time at a local coffee shop, Goetz took one, maybe two sips from a bottle of water.
•She’s got some, uh, guts: With a smile on her face, Goetz grilled me about the intent of specific lines in the column with the kind of tone that suggested “I’ll know if you’re lying.” Perhaps she’s a Cylon.
•She’s in a relationship: “My significant other is my work,” she says, with some sarcasm. “There’s no one else I’d rather be with at this point in my life.” Sorry, guys.
•She’s a serious journalist: Nearly every one of her remarks about celebrity was redirected to the level of professionalism she strives for in her job.
•She’s a fashionista: Goetz’s blue eyes sparkled in concert with a turquoise scarf wrapped around her neck. And her outerwear of large sunglasses and a cream-ish, long coat suggests someone who’s fashionable yet casually incognito.
•She knows heartache: Sadly, Goetz talked about how her two older brothers have each died – one from a car accident, the other to suicide. The most impressive part of her personality is how strong she is when talking about the grief. She takes what positive out of it that she can. Very admirable.
•She’s just like us: Goetz says she finds escapism in TV shows like “Project Runway” or “Sportscenter” – no surprise for the former tennis star.
•She has nice perspective: When reflecting on her It Girl status, Goetz channeled a former mentor’s quote: “It’s better to be damned than ignored.”
Very true, but really, I’m not sure anyone is damning you to hell – or Cleveland. People love you. You’re their It Girl.