Friday, August 21, 2015

"Aren't you?..."

A couple of us got to talking the other day about celebrity encounters - those twinkly moments in life you have when, for example, you look over to your left at a guy pushing his tray through a buffet line in Atlantic City and realize it's Rodney Dangerfield.  That happened to my father a long time ago, and I guess when you have been aboard a ship in Tokyo Bay watching General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz on a another ship sign the armistice ending World War II, seeing Rodney was not all that remarkable to my dad.  At least, he didn't drop his tray or anything.

I looked up in the Borders bookstore in Towson one day to find myself browsing along with John Waters, and I stood transfixed outside TGIFriday's in Towson watching Cal Ripken, Jr, eat dinner with his wife and children.  Had I been inside, I could have told him how thrilled I was to see his father Cal Sr. Christmas shopping at White Marsh Mall that one time.  I couldn't muster the nerve to ask the venerable baseball coach to give me the "BUNT" signal, standing there by the perfume counter in Macy's.  And another time, at a book signing, Cal Jr went against the instructions of the woman running the show and offered to sign my "2131" baseball, which is now on permanent display here in my Museum of Baltimore Culture, near a brick from Memorial Stadium.

Peggy and I ran into John Lowenstein outside the ballpark once. Lowenstein was a pretty good ballplayer who wound up doing commentary on the televised ballgames.  I stuck out my paw to shake his and thank him for the years of entertainment he had provided, both on the field and in the TV booth, and he turned it around as if he were honored to meet us.  He asked us both our names and asked about how long we had been fans, what did we like best about the current team, and so forth.  It was clear that he was used to talking nicely with strangers, and I appreciated his down-to-earth attitude.

He's Ed Harris.
And my nephew was moving out of an apartment in New York City years ago, and was trying to shove a large mattress into a small pickup truck.  Along came a stranger who lent a hand, and as he walked off, Drew said, "Don't I know you from somewhere?" And Ed Harris said, "Hi.  I'm Ed Harris."

This all comes to mind because I stumbled across one of those internet doohickeys that listed "10 Celebrities Who Are Really Mean To Their Fans."  I'm not going to share the names of those who made the list, because, how do I know that the guy who seems like such a jovial comic actor on television is really a demanding egomaniac in real life, or the woman with a cooking show who whips up souffl├ęs like an angel throws the whisk at her crew two minutes later like a devil?  These reports of awful celebrity behavior might all be made up by people who are jealous of not being celebrities themselves.  Or they might be snapshots of people who are just having a bad day.

The great irony of being famous, I guess, is that people work and work to get to be that way and even hire publicity agents whose sole purpose is to get them in the hot glare of fame and celebrity, and then, once they get in that glare, they demand to be left alone. I never became a famous actor because a) I'm not very good to look at  b) I have no talent for acting  and more than anything c) I couldn't stand it if I couldn't strut into the supermarket or library or Dollar Tree without attracting a crowd of gawkers and onlookers, all clamoring for a chance to bask in that hot glare for a second.

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