Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Years ago, Steve Martin filmed a movie in my hometown. A gentleman with whom I worked at the time had the great fortune of peeing next to Mr. Martin in the men’s room of local comedy club.
This gentleman babbled nonstop about it for three days. He spoke of it as if he’d found the cure for cancer. All excitement….like it was some sort of earth-shattering discovery.
I feel sorry for most celebrities. After all, they’re just people. But because they’re in the limelight, in some form or fashion, we pedestrians feel as if we own a little piece of them. We attend their movies, buy their music, and spend countless hours watching them on TV. As a result, we give ourselves permission to praise them, bad-mouth them, and force ourselves upon them at any given moment.
A friend of a friend once saw Tommy Lee Jones at a convenience store. She approached him, asked for a picture, and he replied that he’d rather not. She was offended, but I think Mr. Jones was perfectly fine in declining her request. Convenience stores simply aren’t, well, convenient most of the time. We’re there to get gas, buy a candy bar, and then hit the road. In and out – we usually don’t have time to take requests.
Just because one’s famous doesn’t mean he wants to be bothered.
And this is true for anyone with even the slightest bit of fame.
When I worked as a radio disc jockey, a woman attending one of my live broadcasts told me that she didn’t like my hair. She didn’t say ‘hello’, or ask how my day was going. The first thing out of her mouth was her opinion about my hair. So, how does one respond to this? Quite baffled as to how to handle the situation, I told her we were out of bumper stickers and donuts, but thanked her for stopping by anyway. We had plenty of bumper stickers and donuts, but I didn’t feel as if she deserved them after her tacky comment. Was this the right thing to do? Probably not, but I felt a little vindicated nonetheless.
Had I been a bank teller, a doctor, or a librarian, would she have done the same thing? Probably not, but then again, scores of weird, rude people roam the streets daily, so you just never know.
A lot of folks are star-struck, but I’ve never been one of them. During my stints in radio and television, I met an awful lot of famous people. Some of them were absolute gems – others, not so much. For laughs, I tell my friends about the time I interviewed a certain up-and-coming country music superstar who behaved dreadfully. He was rude, snarky, in desperate need of a shower, and definitely overstayed his welcome. After the interview, I said to my boss, ‘This guy will never amount to anything.’ A year later he was the hottest thing going, and today his music still tops the charts.
Shows you how much I know.
Anyway, I don’t tell this story in order to make him look bad – I really don’t. It was just truly one of the most uncomfortable and absurd moments in my life, so I have to share it with those who are near and dear. Trust me, I didn’t lose any sleep over it, and I’m happy that things turned out well for him.
Of course, in this age of technology, anyone can become a celebrity. We’ve YouTube stars popping up and garnering some pretty serious attention. Anyone with thoughtful or entertaining comments can gain quite a following on Twitter or Facebook.
So I guess the lesson of today’s little musing is this: we’re all basic, standard, run-of-the mill people. The movie star is no different from the maintenance man – he just makes his living a different way. Just because someone is ‘known’ does not mean that you have the right to pester him. Please respect the privacy of others and don’t paw at them. Mind your manners and speak kindly. If they’re having a private conversation with someone else, don’t interrupt them.
And let them pee in peace, why don’t you?
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