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.)


Shel said...

Ummm..Jess? I have to admit that I have the same celebrity name dropping problem your husband does. However, YOU'RE usually the celebrity in question! I've said it elsewhere, and I'll repeat myself here. Bruce Willis could walk in to my grocery store, and if I even recognized him, it'd be "meh"...however, YOU, or Maggie, or Deb, or Hank could walk in, and I'd be a puddle of fangirliness on the floor. My celebrities are authors.

Dru said...

Jessica you crack me up. I love seeing celebrities and when I do spot them, I just stare at them letting them know that I know who they are.

Meeting authors, that's a different story. I remember when I first saw Nora Roberts and oh my gosh...I was like OMG! OMG! OMG! and as I got closer to her to sign my book, I just got tongue-tied.

So I do understand your obsession with celebrities.

If I ever run into Bruce Willis..that's exactly the phrase I want to say to him.

Professor Stacy said...

I too would want to say that to Bruce Willis. Best line ever!

You've had many more celeb encounters than me, though I did get to quasi-meet Johnny Depp years ago. I will never forget . . .

Thanks for making me start the day with a laugh.

Lori's Reading Corner said...

JP always cracks me up. I love her!!!

And I was there for the Randy Moss "incident." It was quite entertaining watching JP in full stalker mode!

Sheila Connolly said...

My sightings are few and far between, but I did once run into Caroline Kennedy on top of a pyramid in Mexico. We nodded and kept going in opposite directions.

The only time I met Nora Roberts was at my first RWA national convention. She was signing--and there was no line at her table! (Everyone was terrified of her?) I seized the opportunity, and we talked about Irish genealogy (we both have relatives from Cork).

Jessica Park said...

I really wish I had some truly interactive encounters to report... But Sheila, you did remind me of one of my best ones: I saw JFK Jr. at a small store on Martha's Vineyard one time. He was just as gorgeous as he looked in pictures... sigh... How could I have forgotten that one???

Lori's Reading Corner said...

I have a few actual star encounters (aside from JP, her mom and Hank) and some peripheral ones. Several years ago when Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was in Boston I met Donny Osmond. And several years ago when I was in grad school at Lesley I had Nancy-Carlson Paige as a professor, whose son just happens to be Matt Damon. He had to come and drop something off to her one day and it just happened to be during my class :) OMG - HOT!!!

Way way way back when my great-grandfather owned one of the most famous deli's in Boston on Blue Hill Ave. JFK visited several times. As a matter of fact, during the movie "A Woman Named Jackie" they say "Let's go to the G&G for a sandwich"

Heather Webber said...

Thanks for being our guest today, Jessica. I'm hanging out in Chicago, having a blast. I'm trying to think of famous people encounters, but don't have many. The best one was when my husband almost ran over Susan Sarandon and Tim Robins as they jaywalked in Bar Harbor, Maine. Fun times.

Oh, and I went fangirl over Janet Evanovich about 10 years ago. Kind of that whole tongue-tied thing going on.

Kate Collins said...

I have a Bruce Willis story!! (shameless name-dropper that I am). My DH and I were walking across the State Street Bridge in Chicago about 9 years ago when DH says, "Look who's on the other side of me." I looked around him and Bruce was walking along chatting with a man, maybe his director. Bruce had a bandage on his head with fake blood on it (I presume), jeans, tight T-shirt, and flip flops. We walked along with him to the bank plaza on the other side of the river, where suddenly camera crews came rushing out from all directions and people shouted at us to get off the set. They were shooting a movie and no one around us seemed to notice but us. Very cool. Bruce was hot, hot, hot.

Deb Baker said...

I'm so jealous! The closest I ever came was when my daughter saw Jerry Seinfeld get out of a limo. Does that count? Great post!

Melissa Eiselein said...

I've met a few minor celebrities in my years as a newspaper reporter. For the most part, I was not impressed. Sure, they give you a 15-second thrill, but it doesn't last long. Some are self-centered. Some are wacko. Some are just plain boring. For me, it's the nobodies in life who are the most interesting.

That said, about 20 years ago, I did have a reaction similar to Heather Webber when I met Dean Koontz. I don't recall if I was just tongue-tied or if I just went mute. He asked me a question and I could not answer. He probably thought I was developmentally disabled. :-)

Lindy said...

Since several of you have mentioned the Kennedy family, I'll tell you about my almost encounter (okay, NOT encounter) with Jackie O. My aunt was visiting, so I took her to the Kennedy Center for a play. It happened to be the same night that Jackie O. was coming for some reason or other, and there was quite a crowd. My aunt was thrilled, and wouldn't go into the theater where our play was to be until she got to see Jackie. I wanted to see the play. After a few minutes I spotted a dark-haired woman in a green dress, and said, "There she is. Let's go." I nearly started a stampede! My aunt was not amused.

CathWren said...

In my slimmer days, I was sitting in a part in S CA in an area where Vicki Lawrence had recently purchased a home. A man was staring at me and eventually came up to ask if I knew how much I looked like her.

But wait, there's more:

I was sick with bronchitis but my phone wasn't working so I had to go to the phone store. I stopped at the bank next door to get a new check register. You couldn't get them tellers, only from the people who set up accounts. She was busy and there was a line of 4 people waiting so, since I just wanted a register, I just barged in and asked for one. Turns out the client she was with was Vicki Lawrence.

Later, I was sitting in the phone store, staring off into space, totally oblivious, and when I refocused my eyes I realized I was staring right at Ms Lawrence. I must have had a really ugly look on my face (remember I was sick) because she was glaring at me.

I just rotated the chair I was in and went back into my coma.

signlady217 said...

Back in 1990, one of my community college professors was an uncle to country singer Joe Diffie. That was the year Joe's debut single "Home" topped all three of the country charts at the same time (First time in history anyone's song had done that.) I thought that was pretty cool. I kept hoping he would stop by to see his uncle about something, but it never happened. :(

Shel said...

Me at a mystery convention is going to be the funniest thing EVER. Y'all are all going to have a blast laughing at me being an idiot.

jbstanley said...

If ever Rick should appear to a single fan bearing a dozen red roses and a box of chocolate, it should be you, Jessica!

Sarah said...

Thanks for the laugh-out-loud post :-) I needed it!


Jessica Park said...

I knew you ladies would have good stories! Thanks so much to the Cozy Chicks for having me here--you run one of my favorite blogs!

JB- FYI, there is a Rick concert tradition... fans hand him a dozen roses and he strums 'em against the guitar, sending petals everywhere. So I'd accept giving HIM roses, but I'll still take the chocolates. :)

Aim said...

Jessica- from one Rick Springfield fan to another, sign up for the cruise sweepstakes at sirius radio. I'm going to check out your books this weekend.

Jessica Park said...

Aha! Thank you! Entered and posted it on FB demanding that any of my friends who win are required to take ME! :)

Debra said...

I ran into Billy Joel unloading his car in Manhattan. There was a blond woman who looked an awful lot like CB in the car. As soon as I saw him, my then boyfriend said,"Don't say any...." Before he could finish I had already gone up to him and screamed,"You're Billy Joel!" He shook my hand and went on his way. The boyfriend said a true New Yorker would not say anything,but hey, I grew up in Philly and didn't care.
I also met Derek Jeter in my neighborhood in the Bronx,but I had to buy a book and stand in line five hours to meet him ;-)

Sheery said...

Oh my gosh - this is such a funny post. Sorry to laugh at your misfortunes, though.

The first time I met SImon le Bon (the lead singer of Duran Duran - whom I've loved since I was 12) he was so rude! From all that I had heard previously I expected much better! I was mortified. Fortunately, I have had the pleasure of meeting him (and the others in Duran Duran) again and he is indeed very nice and funny and basically, I still love him! Thankfully, my husband accepts my one-sided adoration for pop royalty.

About a year ago, i tried to engage Patrick Dempsey in a chat in Hollywood. Let's just say I made a dork of myself. He smiled but otherwise ignored me. I say I'll have better luck next time and my husband rolls his eyes.

Oh, and I share your Rick Springfield crush. Mine happened when I met him with a girlfriend in the green room of one of his shows in Los Angeles. He is completely nice and charming. he was a really, really lovely person.

Jessica Park said...

Sheery, great stories! You can guess my favorite. :) You can buy backstage passes to Rick's shows, but they cost an absolute fortune. If I ever strike it rich that will be the first thing I spend my money on. He is, by all accounts, totally sweet to all of his fans. He must like them or he wouldn't dare trap himself on a cruise ship for days at a time!

Allison said...

My first celeb sighting was Dawn Wells (Gillian's Island), who came to my grandmother's house as a client - I was totally starstruck! I think I was about 9 or 10 at the time (waaaay back in the 70's). She was awesome! I met Cristina Ferrare several years ago, and she is so lovely and gracious. And let me say it is quite the experience to see Hulk Hogan in person.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Oh, I just found this--I'm out of town and so behind.

Anyway, Jess, you are way too funny. And thank you for the kind words. But I am so with yo--I NEVER see anyone famous, and it drives me crazy.

It has to be chance encounters, I agree. Oh, wait, once I saw James Taylor at the Gap. That was very col, but I was too shy to say anything to him. And I saw Nicholas Sarkozy shopping at Ralph Lauren-does that count?

Jan said...

The only celeb I've ever met is J.A.Jance! My mom has met Whoppie Goldberg and others when she works at UNICEF-- does that count?

Jessica Park said...

Hey, J.A. Jance is kind of a big deal now, so consider that a good one! And, Hank, I'm surprised you haven't met more in your business, but apparently you need to hang around the mall more to catch some good sightings, LOL! Oh, Allison, Dawn Wells is a great one, especially to meet her when you were a kid. I love all of these great stories!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Hank's met Fabio (twice, if I'm not mistaken). I've seen the pictures. (Unless that was a life size cutout she was standing next to.)

Rural View said...

I'd be thrilled at meeting your husband! Love Legal Seafoods and my husband is a huge fan too.

I have a couple claims to fame. 1) Bobby Darin kissed me late one night at Newark Airport when my husband's flight was delayed and I was watching others come in for lack of anything better to do. 2) Robert Redford's son ran into me at a restaurant in CT, unfortunately soon after I had abdominal surgery! He was soooo scared I would tell his dad. Sure, like I would! I also met Paul Newman there.