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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

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She hangs chairs on the wall

So, anyway, I just came back from lunch with Mary Steenburgen. Well, near Mary Steenburgen. Okay, I walked past Mary Steenburgen in the cafe, on my way to the deck. I just opened the front door to our neighborhood coffee shop and there was Mary Steenburgen.

Mary Steenburgen!, I thought. Act natural!

I played it cool, but I'm pretty sure she was checking me out. I felt the heat of her hot celebrity gaze burning a hole in my back.

I couldn't wait to tell Patrick when I got home. Goin' South is one of our top five favorite movies, and we quote the Jack Nicholson and Mary Steenburgen lines to each other all the time. Well, Patrick quotes Jack's lines and I purse my lips and roll my eyes. Which is what Mary's character mostly does in the film anyway.

"Did you talk to her?" he asked.


"Did you get an autograph?"


"A picture?"

"Nope!" (Although I had my camera in my purse).

"Why not?"

"She was eating lunch."

Patrick shrugged in agreement. I'm not much of a celebrity hound. For starters, the famous people I do tend to meet are only famous among graduate students of creative writing programs. The average cocktail party guest is not exactly bowled over by my story about the time I found myself all alone with Gary Snyder in a bedroom at a house party, and instead of throwing him down on the furcoat-covered bed, sitting naked on his chest and reading him my poems like Anne Sexton would have done, I was a tongue-tied stammering idiot who could barely give him clear directions to the bathroom. Dinner hosts don't beg me to tell about the time Georgia and I lay in wait all weekend for Billy Collins at his hotel, only to finally track him down Sunday morning and spend breakfast kicking each other's ankles under the table and cocking our heads and hissing. I'm sure if he noticed us at all, he assumed we had some sort of neuro-muscular disorder.

I did almost bump into Jeff Bridges once. Which would have been cool, because The Fisher King is also in that top five movie list. I was browsing through a vintage clothing rack and a woman was taking photographs of a couple of other shoppers. I was annoyed.

"You're not taking my picture, are you"? I asked coldly, assuming the dress shop was putting together some sort of promotional flyer and trying to get away with free talent. Hah! Not without a signed waiver!

The photographer looked at me like I was a hatrack that had just tipped over. "Uh. No."

When I got to the cash register, the check out girl gushed, "I can't believe they were in here."


"You didn't see? Jeff Bridges and his girlfriend. His personal assistant, too."


It didn't really matter, because had I seen and recognized them, what would I do or say? It must be so strange to be famous, to be on the receiving end of that sense of urgency people feel when they run into you. To meet people all the time whom you know nothing about, yet they feel connected to you, perhaps significantly. You might have been part of their first date, the naming of their child, their Mom's funeral, but the current doesn't flow both ways. The imbalance of it must be perpetually unsettling. I would imagine it is a kind of constant energy drain.

Or not. Mary Steenburgen didn't look drained in the slightest. She looked damn hot. For the record, she is far sexier and younger looking in person than I have ever seen her on film. True, "hot and sexy", like "famous", often means something different to me than it does to most other people (just last night I was thinking that John Turturro is hot and sexy). But I think if you were to run down to the coffee shop right now and catch her, you'd agree with me that girlfriend is fine.

But for God's sake, act natural.



Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

love it and love mary steenbergen. one day crazy people will be hounding you..............

2:30 PM  
Blogger sgazzetti said...

(Funny. We just re-watched The Fisher King last weekend.)

My experience has been that when I meet famous people I admire, I am moved to say the most obtuse thing possible, often in the form of a question. I replay these meetings years later in the wee hours and squirm in self-loathing.

4:30 AM  
Blogger Erika said...

I met Luke Skywalker once in an alley in New York behind the theatre where we had just seen him perform in a play with Bob Joy, we were heading to the stage door to meet up with Bob, a fellow Newfoundlander who had invited us back. Luke was underwhelming and flying off to a waiting taxi.

I also met Supertramp once and asked them for an autograph for my boyfriend. They asked if I wanted an autograph to and I said no. I don't think they knew what to make of me after that. I guess I could have said yes to be polite.

7:10 AM  
Blogger jen lemen said...

oh my lord, this post cracks me up. gary snyder part especially. oh for the courage of anne sexton!

12:09 AM  
Blogger Lily said...

John Turturro = crazy hot and sexy

4:18 PM  

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