I’ve had the good luck to meet some famous people over the years: Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Child (work events), Barack Obama (fundraiser when he was running for IL state senator), Ali Wentworth (luncheon for her book tour), John Kerry (at a car rental in Los Angeles), Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly (fundraiser for Kelly’s Senate run).
I’ve also spotted (but not met) some celebrities in real life, not counting concert or performance stages. Like Ethan Hawke (resort in Greece), Jerry Hall (resort in Bali), Uma Thurman (resort in Turks & Caicos), Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise (outside a restaurant in Santa Monica).
I’ll admit I get kinda giddy when sighting a celebrity, let alone getting to talk to one!
Recently, I was meeting my daughter at her favorite coffee shop in Evanston, Illinois, just north of Chicago. It was a rainy Sunday and the place was packed although very quiet. I got there early and was scouting for a table when I saw a trio begin to gather their belongings. I approached the table as the two women stood up but because he was still seated, I addressed the middle-aged man and asked if they were leaving. He said yes and stood up.
I plopped myself down in the empty seat across from him as he and (what turned out to be) his daughter left the table. The wife/mother, however, lingered. She was standing by the table, fussing with their dishes and looked at me, then asked, “They’ll come and clear these, don’t you think?” I said, “I’m sure they will.” Then I added, “So sorry to barge in on your table like this!” She responded quickly, “Not at all.”
The next moment, and it was really only a few seconds, is what stays with me. The woman, a striking blonde with piercing eyes, looked straight at me, smiled, and cocked her head slightly. Like she was waiting for me to acknowledge something. I smiled back, baffled. She hesitated a moment longer, then turned and walked toward the door.
After the trio left the coffee shop, the whole place, which had been so hushed until now, erupted in loud chatter. The woman at the next table leaned over and asked, “Do you know who that was?” I shook my head.
What? And I didn’t recognize her? I mean, I used to watch Mad About You, the Emmy-winning show she starred in with Paul Reiser in the ’90s. Apparently she and her ex (producer Matthew Carnahan, the man I first talked to) were in town moving their daughter into Northwestern University, just a few blocks north of the coffee shop.
It’s interesting to note that had I known who they were, I would not have approached the table. I believe it’s kind to give famous people their privacy, especially when they’re enjoying family time.
People in the coffee shop were very respectful and kept their distance. I bet that’s not always true. I know the woman who told me it was Hunt also said she’d been staring at her, to the point where Hunt smiled and waved at her in acknowledgment. Still, since I did engage with Hunt, I wonder if that’s why she was surprised and perplexed by me. Like, “don’t you know who I am?” Maybe she was expecting me to tell her how much I’d enjoyed her work and to ask for an autograph or selfie. Or maybe I’m reading way too much into one moment!
In any case, Hunt was gracious and I loved that she was concerned about leaving a mess behind at the table. As Us Magazine loves to point out in photos capturing celebrities going about mundane tasks, “Stars – They’re Just Like Us!”
YOUR TURN: Have you had any encounters with celebrities? Share in the comments!