Hair or nail salons. That’s where I open a ragged Star magazine once in a while to get some entertainment news. These are the same magazines that have ads for breast enlargement devices toward the back. I don’t watch TV tabloids, and I don’t grab a People magazine as I wait impatiently to check out at the market (sometimes I am intrigued by those little horoscope booklets, though…). And once I begin to feather through page after photo-laden page of young starlets with baby carriages, aged actors caught without makeup and hunky boy toys, it takes me about five minutes to wish I could get my hands on a Vanity Fair magazine or a New Yorker.
Does the fact that I don’t follow the lives of any famous people make me the ultimate snob? Is it strange that I have such a lack of interest in where a movie star went shopping and whom she has on her arm in a given week? Or am I just in denial — jealous because of the fairytale life they are supposed to be leading?
Okay, I can’t say more money and having domestic help don’t appeal to me, but the rest really doesn’t. Having worked for airlines and big city hotels in my youth, where I met and assisted a lot of famous folks, I think I learned quickly that these individuals are really just ordinary people (some with talent) who either got lucky or made some great decisions for themselves. At the end of the day, they have the same needs, bodily functions and worries about life, health and family that we do.
A story for you: Once, when our daughter was small, we went to Yosemite for a week of exploring and R & R. We rented a little cabin and headed over to the Yosemite Lodge cafeteria to have our first vacation meal and found ourselves at a facility where you take a tray, stand in line and point to food as they slop it on a plate. The only special thing about it was that we were surrounded by granite monoliths and cool, crisp alpine air. There, standing in line behind us was a TV personality with his two young children – both around the same age as our daughter. We smiled enough at one another that he knew we recognized him, said hello and that was about all.
After we finished our meal, we went out to the courtyard, where rustic benches beckoned us to sit and digest a bit. It was there that we saw him again – this time his two kids beginning to engage with our own, as kids often do with no thought whatsoever. As we corrected our kids occasionally, we naturally struck up a conversation and became friendly with the dad – mostly talking about the kids, where we were from, etc., while my husband and I tried not to act in the least bit star-struck. We figured the guy was there on vacation and had enough of that just going to the grocery store once in a while.
We said our goodbyes and acknowledged that perhaps we might run into one another again. And we did – the next day at the Lodge pool, where the kids really had a ball. He asked for our cabin number as we gathered our towels to go back and change up for a hike and that, we thought, was that. Once in our cabin, the phone began to ring. It was our star, asking if we would join him for a hike. To get to the point, we would be spending nearly our entire vacation with this single father and his two (rather spoiled) children. Conversations were interesting and much more careful on my husband’s part than on mine, (women just get naturally nosy, I guess). I asked him about his divorce, his upbringing in New York, his family, etc., and he seemed pleased to be able to let go and talk for a while to someone seemingly safe that he would no doubt never see again. On the last night, he took the liberty of arranging a sitter for the kids and took us out to dinner at the Mountain Broiler – the only semblance of fine dining outside of the Ahwanee Hotel within the park.
As we sat there, people around us tried not to look obvious, but at any given moment, another diner was staring either at the star or at us, wondering who we could possibly be. I had to chuckle. It was dinner, for crying out loud – a meal we could have been having with anyone. The fact that we sat there with Mr. TV series somehow made it more than food all of a sudden.
We ended our vacation giving him our phone number, but knew it would never be used. And when we got home and I began to tell this part of our story to friends and family, they were in shock. I doubt if this man would even remember us now. But for a few short days, we were friends and fellow vacationers, no different than any other family that found their children drawn to one another.
Sometimes I honestly feel sorry for these people. I am sure they wonder whom they can trust – who is out to report some impropriety about them to the press – or whether someone is out to use them because of their fame. It has to be a rather lonely alternate existence, even if they hang out with their own crowd who is constantly jockeying for position to get the next film role, the next TV role or the next good script.
By hook or crook, I now have some celebrity friends on Facebook. Very rarely I exchange ‘update’ pleasantries with them; most have someone else handling their profiles as a fan page and don’t post anything themselves. One with whom I recently engaged was at wit’s end as to how to use Facebook. Evidently, no one had taught her all the privacy tools to use and she thought it might be fun to ‘chat’ instant-message style with a few people she actually knew. Suddenly she was deluged by her admirers and cyber-paparazzi and became overwhelmed. So she signed off. Shortly afterward, she took the time to apologize to her adoring public, telling of her frustration. I advised her a bit on how to block people, how to turn off the chatting tool, etc. Dozens of other people were advising her NOT to do what I advised because she might fall a bit from favor if she shut out her fan-friend-feeding-frenzy. I attempted to debunk that by explaining that Facebook is supposed to serve you and not the other way around. You can’t have fun with it if you can’t make it your own. She quickly hit the ‘like’ button on my comments and the activity died down. I tried to put myself in her shoes but I knew I couldn’t.
Famous people have to choose the size and height of the platform they occupy. Some are in need of constant adoration and others are fine with getting paid to do what they do while they try to live as normal a life as possible.
In the end, they put their pants on one leg at a time, have sleep problems just like we do, raise children they hope will turn out to be good human beings and complain about the onset of old age. They just do something different for a living.