I am in NJ visiting my girls, which is always soooo much fun. I had a close encounter with one of my heroes this week, Bruce Springsteen. I’ll tell you about that a little later in the blog, but on to the subject at hand.
I have always been star-struck by celebrities and movie stars. Ever since I first knew what TV was I have loved seeing someone “in person.” Over the years my path has crossed with quite a few of theirs and as usual, it wasn’t always a great experience. Despite what you may think, I am happy to say the bad experience was mostly on my part, not theirs.
Like the time I was at a Paul Anka concert in Atlantic City. He is an incredible showman, involves his audience in his performance and even though I know he’s written an unbelievable number of songs I am still amazed at the ones he personally didn’t record but wrote for others. Not to mention the commercials he’s also helped to create. (Kodak’s is one of my favorites.)
Unfortunately, I don’t always know the real words to anyone’s songs. In fact, I almost always don’t know the words. So I make them up. Makes my kids and grandkids crazy but so what?
So, here I am, in a great seat, right along the main aisle of the venue, when the super star comes off the stage and meanders down the row of tables singing one of his signature tunes. He was holding the mike out to various fans to sing along with him. I was starting to feel panicky as he approached me because I knew I didn’t know the words. This was shaping up to be a humiliation even I couldn’t bear. He got to me, flashed that great smile while he was singing away, looked down at me with mike in hand, bent over and as I was about to throw up in fear…he kissed me on the cheek. I breathed out a sigh of relief…and breathed in a cloud of cologne. In fact, even after I showered, I could still smell it. I have no idea what it was but I can tell you that the Pentagon should look into acquiring some of it instead of tear gas or smoke bombs. This stuff would clear out a foxhole in seconds flat. And I’ll bet it cost in the neighborhood of $1,000. per ounce.
When I was in my 30′s I had an opportunity to go to one of the famous Friars’ Club Roasts. This one was honoring Cary Grant and anyone who was anyone was there…times ten. I was in celebrity hog heaven. To name just a few I was brushing shoulders with: Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali, Farah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neill, Alexander Godunov and Jacqueline Bissett, Tony Curtis and another of the heroes of my life: Joe Namath. But this was not the first time he and I had met.
When I was in college, my weekend/summer job was as a sales girl in the “Junior” department (“BiGi”) at Bergdorff Goodman on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in NYC. It was a great gig for a student; not only did we get a substantial discount on clothes but it was also a mecca for stars. One Saturday, NY JETS #12 wandered in to our end of the store and singled me out to help him with a coat for one of his girlfriends. I apparently was about her size and height, so he asked me to try on a couple that he picked out. He bought one and after he left the department, my co-workers were able to revive me and get me back out on the floor in an upright position. The rest of the day, no other shoppers asked me for help since I looked slightly pixilated with this dazed look on my face.
Flash forward again to the Friars’ Club event. I was almost in a state of euphoria surrounded by all these superstars. (Note: they are all much shorter in person. I am actually slightly taller than Ryan O’Neill. Once I saw Cher and she is tiny, too. But I digress.) Who wanders into the “Dais Room” (which is where the Hollywood hotshots hung out before the event) but Broadway Joe himself. By that time I’d had a drink or two and was feeling more comfortable as the Nobody in the room. I went right up to him (and unbeknownst to me, the TV cameras were rolling and I was on Channel 7 the next day!) and shook his hand, saying “You probably don’t remember me, but I sold you a coat 20 years ago. You had me try it on for you.” (I cringe even now when I remember uttering such a stupid thing!!!!! arghhhh!!!!!) Gracious as ever, he stretched out his hand and while shaking with this obvious nutcase hand said “Yes, but it probably wasn’t for me, was it?” I am blushing even as I write this.
So now I am back in present time. My middle daughter lives in an area of New Jersey which can boast to be the home of more than a celebrity or two. She happens to work out at the same gym as the Boss and they have become acquainted. She, unlike her mother, is not moved by the fact that some people’s names are in lights all the time and invoke humble homage from the masses. She is very respectful of the privacy of those in the spotlight and treats him like she would any other gym buddy.
When I first arrived we were off to Toys R Us to buy a belated “big” first birthday gift for my youngest grandson. Pulling into the lot, Jess spotted a car at the end of the row, not parked, just stopped, with someone in the driver’s seat looking down, probably texting.
She said, casually, “Oh look, there’s Bruce Springsteen.” My heart stopped. I have been a fan of him since…since….forever. I have every song/album/CD he’s ever recorded.
She pulled up alongside him and each rolled down the window. He grinned at her and she said “Bruce! What are you doin’? going to Toys R Us?” He laughed and said “Jess, you stalking me?” I sat in the passenger seat, with such a big smile on my face I know I looked like a complete idiot.
I wanted to say “I LOVE YOU.”
I wanted to say “I have every piece of music you have ever recorded.”
I wanted to say “HUGE FAN!!!! HUUUUUUGE FAN!!!”
I wanted to tell him that “The Rising” is what I played in my drive cross-country when I was getting tired because I could sing my made-up words along with him at the top of my lungs and it kept me awake.
I could feel my hand searching for my cell phone in my purse to snap a shot.
What did I do?
Sat there, grinning like an idiot. Heart pounding. Thinking he looked shorter in person, even though he was sitting down in his car. I liked the earring, even though we are both 61. He was very tan. They finished their brief chat and we proceeded to park and go in the store. I was elated but controlled. Then I realized it.
This could be a great blog.
Have you had any experiences, embarrassing or otherwise, with the rich and famous?