Friday, April 9, 2010

Celebrity Sightings. Sort Of.

Do any of you have those hateful friends with countless thrilling stories about run-ins with celebrities? You know, those people that casually say, Oh, guess who I sat next to on my flight back from L.A.? Jennifer Aniston. We talked the entire flight and I gave her the name of a great realtor I know. She’s a total doll. Or, I saw Al Pacino at Whole Foods and he recommended that I buy the fresh arugula. The friend who shoe-shopped side-by-side with Sarah Jessica Parker, the pal who was stuck outside in the pouring rain trying to flag a cab and ends up sharing one with a disgustingly kind Cameron Diaz? I have a friend who lives in L.A. and routinely calls me to fling around her encounters with famous people. Oh, I found out that I eat the same kind of sushi as Jeremy Piven when I ran into him ordering take-out. Argh! I despise her because I am riddled with jealousy. I’m the one who watches Access Hollywood and lives and dies by tawdry celebrity scandals! But I have terrible celebrity luck.

Even my husband has betrayed me by consistently beating me out. Celebrities who are visiting Boston often go into Legal Seafoods, where he’s a chef, so there’s the occasional, Oh, guess who came in to the restaurant tonight? XXXXXX. And Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz shot a movie right outside the restaurant and he watched exciting car chase stunts every day. Blah, blah… nothing unusual right? But even when he’s not actually at work making use of his unfair celebrity-sighting advantage, he still has better luck than I do. Here’s one of the most traumatic incidents:
Bill: Hey, guess who I had coffee with today?
Me: Spongebob Square Pants?
Bill: Do you want to know or not?
Me: Yes.
Bill: I went into the diner today and sat down at the counter. Willie the cook says to me, “Watch out for that guy next to you. He’s trouble.” So I look to my left and it’s Bruce Willis.
Me (starting to scream hysterically): What was he doing there?
Bill: Shooting a movie in Boston. He didn’t want to go to the catering tent there, so he came into the diner
Me: He TOLD you this?
Bill: Yeah.
Me: What ELSE did you talk about?
Bill (looking annoying casual and unimpressed): I dunno. We shot the sh*t.Me: YOU SHOT THE SH*T WITH BRUCE WILLIS? (I pause excitedly.) Did you say, “Yippie kay-ay, mother—?”
Bill (looking beyond horrified): No. No, I certainly did not say that to him.
This is exactly why the universe works against my having an encounter like this. Because I would completely misbehave. My celebrity run-ins are limited to the following:

-When I was eight-years-old, my family and I went to Cape Cod and stayed in a hotel. The most exciting feature of the hotel, in my book, was the appealing assortment of video games. I developed a sick addiction to Caterpillar and, as I was racing back to the machines with a pile of quarters in my fists, I ran smack into a block of muscle otherwise known as Marvin Hagler, who was at the hotel for some boring old boxing match. He put his ginormous hand on my head, peeled my flattened body off of his, and said, “Watch where you’re going, kid.” He’s a big, big dude, let me tell you. I think I wee wee’d in my pants a little.

-My father and I were flying out of Kansas City, Kansas when I was about eleven, and who should walk past our gate but Richard Nixon. Flanked by security for obvious reasons. Ahem. “He’s a crook, isn’t he, Dad?” I asked. “Indeed he is,” my father agreed. That was my one brush with presidential fame.

Then there were the dry years. Sigh. After the incredibly exciting glimpse of Richard Nixon (groan) my only celebrity encounters consisted of whoever was bring profiled on E! But then…

-When I was in my twenties and still out and about at bars and clubs on weekend nights, my work cohorts and I streamed into the Bow and Arrow bar in Harvard Square at about seven at night. We left sometime after midnight, making riotous, drunken noise. But the moment we stepped out of the bar, we face a crowd of angry people who glared at us, held fingers to their lips, and rudely shushed us. It seems that while we had been focusing on the important task of guzzling beer, an entire film crew had set up shop on the street to film the How do you like them apples? scene from Good Will Hunting. That’s as close to Matt Damon as I’ve come.

-Now, we can’t count attending concerts as true celebrity encounters, but I count this incident at the Rick Springfield concert I went to with my equally Rick-obsessed friend. When he jumped into the audience, I agreed to hold my friend’s bag while she rushed into the crowd to get as close to our rock God as possible. She returned, nearly hyperventilating and channeling Finding Nemo, screaming, I touched his butt! I touched his butt! This hand, right here, was on Rick Springfield’s butt! So obviously I grabbed her hand and rubbed it all over my body. Kidding, kidding. (Okay, we’ll say I’m kidding.) But I’m counting this one because it involves vicarious celebrity groping.

-Just the other weekend, we had dinner at the Legal Seafoods in Chestnut Hill, MA. After we’d left, and my husband deemed it a safe distance, he informed me that my beloved NE Patriot’s wide receiver Randy Moss had been dining not far from us. There was a small scuffle when I tried to whip around and rush the restaurant as my husband muttered something about my stalking behavior.

I do have one small success story, though. After I started writing the Gourmet Girl mystery series, I joined a number of cozy mystery groups online. And who should pop up but Hank Phillippi Ryan, the hotshot investigative reporter for Boston’s Channel 7 News! She had mystery series out! My mother and I had been major fans of Hank’s for years and I was utterly star-struck. You can read about my dinner with Hank here. It’s a good thing that Hank is as lovely and charming as she is, and at least she wasn’t overtly put off by my hysteria.

Most recently, though, I have had a rather unusual celebrity encounter. The fifth Gourmet Girl mystery, COOK THE BOOKS, was released a few weeks ago. After a mix-up with my author copies ending up at a Barnes and Noble, I finally got my books. All was going well, until I got an e-mail from a very nice reader who that, while she adored the book, she thought that I might want to know that her copy of the book had a thirty-page excerpt of Charlaine Harris’ CLUB DEAD inserted about two-thirds of the way through my book. The reader went to library to see what she was missing and their copy had the same printing error! Oh, my… I’m told that this sort of mix-up does happen on occasion, and so I’m choosing to count this as a successful meet up with one of the most famous authors ever. I’ll look at it as an honor, as though Charlaine Harris herself CHOOSE to pop into my book. And it’s a sign of how trendy I am, pairing up with vampires and all.

Note: So if you should find yourself reading COOK THE BOOKS and suddenly wondering why Chloe is interested in drinking blood, congratulations! You’re the proud owner of a defective copy! I’ve just heard that only about twenty of these combo books were printed, thank goodness, but please return any faulty copies to your place of purchase. And don’t bite anyone at the store. Or hold on to the book, wait twenty years, and sell it for a billion dollars.


Jessica online:

Jessica lives in Manchester, NH with her husband and son. She has coauthored five books in the Gourmet Girl culinary mystery series with her mother, Susan Conant. The most recent, COOK THE BOOKS, was released in March and is getting lovely reviews! Currently, she is shopping a young adult novel and working on a second, although her writing speed is slowed by the amount of time she spends strategizing about how to get on the Rick Springfield Cruise. (Suggestions are always welcome.)