…well, more like seeing celebrities face to face. I’m not going to claim I met Elvis, Jesus Christ (I’m kinda working on this one), nor one of the Kardashians. But, I have stood inches away from David Bowie, Sally Fields, Daisy Fuentes (post MTV days), Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jaguar Paw (the lead character from the film “Apocalypto”), Mickey Mouse (don’t be haters now), and Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials (uh, almost).
Over time, and through learning from my own blunders, I have come to develop three general rules when one has the good or bad fortune (depending on if it’s a famous person you like or not) of coming close to a celebrity.
1) Give celebrities their space…but not too much.
Back in the 1990’s, when I saw David Bowie walk into the antique shop called the Dream Room downtown San Francisco (who could miss that one blue eye and one hazel eye), I did the obvious: I walked right out. Not only because Bowie’s awesome aura was warping my “dork” force field, I wanted to give him some shopping room. I’d hate for someone to breathe down my neck while I was checking out an antique dildo or some vintage books on the Nazi party. Looking back though, I regret giving Mr. Ziggy Stardust too much space. I should have at least snuck behind something and waited to see what he would have purchased from a safe distance…to then turn around and sell that information to a tabloid to pay for my adult braces.
2) Don’t ask celebrities if they are who they are.
In most cases, they will deny it to avoid you. Other cases, they will fess up and you will look like an ass. Or, they will lie and claim to be Eric Estrada or one of the Spice Girls, which will make you look like an even bigger ass. Case in point:
Fake Flo: “Uh, no but, I wish I was. I’m sure she’s making a boat load of money by now.”
Me: “Oh, I’m sorry. The hair threw me off.”
3) Please, please, be articulate!
If you absolutely must open your mouth, don’t say anything like I said when I met Lawrence Ferlinghetti at a book signing.
(For those of you who aren’t poetry freaks like myself and are asking, “Who the hell is Larry Ferlinwhatever?”, please stay on the line and skip to the next available section. Oh wait, crap, there is no other section, sorry. Ok, to give you an idea of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s coolness factor, let’s just say he was one of the only people Jim Morrison of The Doors got nervous meeting because the rock star was such in awe of the elder Beat poet.)
Me to Ferlinghetti: “So, any advice to a young, dumb poet?”
I can’t believe these were the Shakespearean words I spewed to the man who published Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and wrote “A Coney Island of the Mind”. Nevermind what response the poor man gave, which honestly, I can’t recall thanks to a habit of blocking things out due to years of sitting through Sunday school as a child. I don’t think I could have formulated a better ear wax arrangement of inarticulation…”blah blah blah…young, dumb poet”.
If I was Ferlinghetti, my response would have been: “Yeh, pick up a copy of the American Heritage Dictionary, but this time, don’t use it as a foot stool.”
EEK…so that tells you why some of us are born to be famous rock stars or celebrity poets, and why some of us are destined to be unemployed, pimple-picking bloggers who use books as furniture.