Living in LA, it’s not unusual to cross paths with celebrities, movie stars, and just those I-know-I-know-that-person-but-from-where types. It never really gets old for me, but it’s more of an “oh, that’s so-and-so” reaction rather than the “can I get a selfie with you?” touristy response. I don’t mean to sound blasé about it but I heartily believe that famous people deserve to have their private lives, too. Unless it’s either a) George Clooney b) Brad Pitt or c) Harrison Ford and then all bets are off and I can’t promise anything.
But while B.’s and my interactions with media darlings have been mostly sightings, both of us have had our separate brushes with stardom. One story is “aww”-worthy (mine); and one is “whoa!”-worthy (his). To wit:
The first time I came to LA was on a family vacation when I was four years old. In those days, some airlines offered two-facing-two seating, which my dad had reserved for our family of four. At the last minute — at the gate — the airline rep very nicely asked my dad if it would be possible for us to change our seats to the more traditional kind, as a very famous person would be on the flight and was requesting the facing seats, if possible. My dad agreed.
Once we were airborne, it seemed that the VIP wanted to thank us in person. And that is how I ended up sitting on Sophia Loren’s lap, being “oohed” and “aahed” over sweetly by La Bellissima herself. I don’t remember the incident (I think my first visit to Disneyland made way more of an impression on me), but my parents loved to tell that story for years.
B.’s story took place in a bar in the 1980s after a law firm softball game. (B. was a labor lawyer and his team was the Blue Flashers — a labor law term.) He was exiting the men’s room as a tall guy with blonde hair wearing a red linen jacket was walking in.
Red Jacket looked at B.’s jersey and asked, in a British accent, “Blue Flashers? What do you do?”
“I’m a softball player,” B. responded. Then he joked, “What are you — a rock star?”
“I don’t know that I’d call myself a star,” Red Jacket replied, “but that’s the field I’m in.”
B. didn’t think anything of it until a bit later, when the house band announced that there was someone famous at the bar that night. Someone in a red linen jacket. Someone with a British accent. Someone whose signature long hair was cut shorter, which was why B. didn’t recognize the lead singer of one of his favorite bands.
Someone named Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame.
Not at all rattled, B. walked over, explained that he was fan and why he hadn’t recognized Plant earlier, and apologized for having given him s**t.
“You can give me s**t,” Plant replied companionably and graciously proceeded to introduce B. to the other members of the band sitting nearby.
If only all of those whose names are up in lights could turn down the wattage every so often to be human.
Wish upon a star.
ⓒ 2017 Claudia Grossman