Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Minding the Gap

I’m always perplexed at how some people get to know movie stars and other forms of celebrities with ease.  I’ve never had the schmoozing gene in my body, so that kind of thing doesn’t easily fall into my lap, though I can flash a great smile.  I see my share of well-knows around town since I live in the Los Angeles area.  But now and again, I’ll hear from someone that they met and spoke at length with a star at a party or event, and somehow it comes so easy to them.  I think that as much as I hate to admit it, even though I grew up in Studio City (or maybe because of it), I am a star struck guy, and I still get a little nervous around well known people.  That frame of mind puts a distance, a sort of emotional gap, between myself and someone who has been on television, or in a movie, or in the media for some reason.  They’re not just a normal person to me. 

And I think I have a point there.  They are really not normal.  They are outstanding in some way, or I wouldn’t be familiar with them.  They got to their position or status through a lot of hard work, self-determination, confidence and some luck, and I’m always impressed with people who get themselves through years of fire like that.

I was recently talking with a woman who had stayed with a man who was the head of a huge industrial company.  I won’t name his name, but the person is very well known in our society.  It knocked my socks off when she told me this.  And this woman became friends with him, traveled with him, even lived with him, and to her, it’s just like another person who had a lot of responsibility in his life at one time and was noteworthy for sure, but it wasn’t such a big deal to her.  And yet it amazed me that she even knew him at all. 

Back when one of my favorite musicians was still alive, an acquaintance of mine happened to be at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and met him.  Now, I had met my bass playing idol, John Entwistle several times through my life I’m happy to report.  But this guy I knew ended up sitting at one of those tall two-seater lounge tables, drinking and smoking with Entwistle and talking for forty five minutes.  What the hell?  How did that happen? 

There is still something about a person, a celebrity, who seems normal enough and who I might see at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s in the evening.  And yet there's a good chance that they probably just walked off of a sound stage a few hours earlier, or that they were running a giant financial corporation or media company during the day.  This juxtaposition still puts me off balance.

Two weeks ago on a Saturday, my girlfriend and I were walking on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica when none other than freaking Hilary Swank walks next to us coming out of The Gap.  My girlfriend said hello and told her how much she liked, “Million Dollar Baby.”  It was humbling for me to see her in her black cut off shorts and a casual teal colored top kicking in on a weekend, and yet, knowing that she was in those two stellar movies, “Boys Don’t Cry,” and that mentioned above.  Whew!  It just blew me away!  

My favorite celebrity story happened right here in Burbank. I had a friend in from out of town (from way out of town), and after seeing the sights around L.A. that night, we ended up at Bob's Big Boy for a late night malt.  We had just sat down in our assigned table, which had a low divider separating the small gap between the neighboring booth and ours, when my friend said that she would love to see a celebrity while she was in town.  Literally just as she was saying these words, from around her back came someone with a light tan safari jacket and a baseball hat.  He came around and sat down across the divider next to us.  It was Rob Lowe.  He had probably just finished shooting, "The West Wing," at Warners for the night and was meeting a buddy.  My friend didn't notice him as she was finishing her thoughts in her broken English.  I pointed with my finger under the level of the divider and she looked over at the man next to us, then looked back at me as if needing verification from me that it could actually be him.  My smile back gave her the answer and her olive skinned face turned a deep crimson.  "Haha!" I thought.  "Do I deliver or what?"