When you live in Los Angeles, you run into celebrities all the time. Of course, your definition of “celebrity” may differ from mine. The first month I was there, I saw the woman who’d played Mrs. Godsey on "The Waltons." She was in line at the post office. I ran back to work, beside myself. “I just saw Mrs. Godsey!” I screeched at everyone.
I’ve never had anyone respond in any way other than that, every time I tell the story. She ran the general store. You guys don’t remember her? Whatever.
I also saw Cuba Gooding Jr. at a Rite Aid and Angela Lansbury at the grocery store. Burgers, she bought. (See what I did, there? A little "Murder, She Wrote" humor.)
The secret to being a citizen of L.A. is that when you see celebrities, you act like it’s no big deal, even if it really is. Once I was with my in-laws in a teensy neighborhood restaurant and Johnnie Cochran walked in — my mother-in-law’s gasp could be heard all the way to the halls of justice. My father-in-law got up and shook Cochran’s hand, for goodness' sake. But hey, they were visiting from Michigan. They were allowed.
I once had to pretend I wasn’t acutely aware that it was just Christina Ricci and me at the pedicure place. I saw her the very next day buying fruit, and we finally smiled and said hi. I did the same thing when Ashton and Demi and her kids — whatever their names are: Rumor, Tumor and Bloomer or whoever — were having breakfast next to me at some really unfancy diner. I have never worked so hard to not look at someone in my life.
What I’m saying to you is I had practice acting like I wasn’t excited to see a famous person, even though — let’s face it — I’m a Midwestern girl from a blue-collar town. Of course it was exciting to see Scotty Baldwin from “General Hospital.” Give me a break.
I only blew it once, and man, if you look in the dictionary under So Totally Uncool, there I am, reliving my one really embarrassing celebrity sighting. I was driving somewhere and I was running late. I stupidly took Hollywood Boulevard, which is always a bad idea because it’s touristy and traffic is even worse than it is in the rest of L.A.
Grumpily, I crawled down the street, wishing I’d thought to take the road less traveled. I realized I was pulling past a movie premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, which I think has a new name now but everyone still just calls it that. On my right side was the theater, and across the street, on my left, were stands with fans in them.
I was using all my best swears as I drove .004 miles per hour past the site, when to my right someone got out of a limo.
It was Nicolas Cage.
Sept. 3, 2013 - Deauville, Festival de Deauville, France - DEAUVILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 02: Nicolas Cage attends a photocall next to the beach closet dedicated to him on the Promenade des Planches for the movie 'Joe' during the 39th Deauville American film festival on September 2, 2013 in Deauville, France (Credit Image: © Visual/ZUMAPRESS.com)
OK, I realize his star has since fallen, but for years he was on my list — my if-I-run-into-him-I-get-to-sleep-with-him list. My then-husband had Molly Ringwald on his list, and ... I don’t know what to tell you about my ex-husband. The point is, there he was, right outside my passenger window. The man I lusted for in “Valley Girl” and in “Leaving Las Vegas” and did I mention “Valley Girl”?
He turned to wave at the crowd across the street, which means he was facing my car, and that's when I grabbed the sides of my face, bounced up and down in my car, and SCREAMED!
Remember when the Beatles invaded America and all those stupid teenagers grabbed their faces and squealed at the Ed Sullivan Theater? That was me that day on Hollywood Boulevard. Only I was 35.
Nicolas Cage had been smiling and waving when he heard the shriek from my car, and although he never stopped waving, he looked in at me with incredible concern. I will never forget that look. Fortunately, traffic moved forward and I drove on, shaking.
I hoped against hope that he’d gotten my license number and was going to move heaven and earth to find me and then, of course, make out with me. But he probably got my license and reported me to the authorities.
So I am just saying, because there is a giant chance Nicolas Cage is reading Purple Clover or BlogHer:
Dear Mr. Nicolas Cage: I was not crazy that day. You know, mostly. And I still love you and want you to kiss me hard while “A Million Miles Away” is playing. Please do not have me put in the pokey. Love (MEAN IT!), Karen.
I guess the moral of this story is, if you see a really good celebrity, don’t do like I did. Save your dignity. And try to keep it in your pants.
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