Meeting a celebrity in person can be awkward. You gush and blush and fawn and fumble, and maybe you walk away with a selfie or autograph. "How cool," you say later, "but why did I have to be so cringe?"

That's how someone's encounter with Conan O'Brien at Boston Logan International Airport went, except in this case, the celebrity was the embarrassed one.

The Brookline native told the story on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon recently while promoting his new Max travel show "Conan O'Brien Must Go." Known for his kind interactions with fans, O'Brien didn't sound any alarm bells with the first part of his story.

The setting: the security line at Logan, where O'Brien was catching a flight.

"This really nice young guy in a white shirt and a baseball cap starts chatting with me," O'Brien said. The fan complimented O'Brien's multi-decade career writing for The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live, hosting several late-night talk shows and entertaining a global audience with his podcast.

O'Brien made his way through the chaotic TSA checkpoint. On the other side, while collecting his belongings, the comedy superstar noticed his friend once again standing next to him.

"I turn around, see the guy -- white shirt, hat -- and I go, 'You know what? Let's do a selfie.' And the guy goes, 'Um, OK.'"

O'Brien persisted despite the lukewarm response.

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"Come on, knucklehead," he said, grabbing the suddenly timid man. "Selfie! Let's go!"

That's when O'Brien realized he had the wrong guy. His fan was across the room.

Talk about embarrassing.

Other celebrities might file such a memory away in a mental lockbox, but O'Brien, 61, has made a career out of turning embarrassing moments into gold.

Mission accomplished yet again.

O'Brien didn't share whether his real fan ever got a photo with his comedy hero.

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