I like the word. Vindaloo.
I had big plans for today’s post. I knew it would be my 100th, so I really wanted to play it up. Do something special. Tell you about how my colleagues joined me for my very first Indian lunch, and how the Chicken Paradise was so spicy and so delicious it almost brought tears to my eyes, and how the server made sure I knew that the hellfire in my mouth was only a “mild spice.” And how I have a special place in my heart now for naan.
Naan. I like that word, too.
That was my plan. I was going to spin that into an 800 word story, much like my first Sushi experience. Lucky for you, Jen said she was planning to spend a day in New York before flying out to Cabo, and Jack suggested going to Soho to watch for celebrities.
Next thing I knew: Scoop on Celebrity Sightings!
“New York is crawling with them, and you’d never know it. They fit right in there, because real New Yorkers don’t care. You wouldn’t believe who I’ve seen just sitting outside at a sidewalk café.”
He begins by saying he once spotted Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro—one of them in a Broadway play. (I’ve admired and confused those two esteemed actors all of my life, so I’m equal parts “Wow!” and “Which one was Scarface?”)
This is when the conversation gets interesting.
“I saw Bruce Springsteen at a shop once. I’d just seen his show in Cleveland the week before, so I wanted to tell him how much I’d enjoyed it. Bruce was just standing there with his hands on his hips, staring at the ceiling, while his wife and kids checked out a display of sunglasses. I said, ‘Hey man, I loved your show last week.’ He said thanks and introduced me to his family. Can you believe it? He wasn’t a musician at that moment. He was just a nice guy—a husband and a dad waiting around at the mall.”
“One time, on the street, I saw this women. She looked really familiar. I kept watching her, thinking, ‘Do I know her from somewhere? Why do I feel like I’ve seen her before?’ Then she smiled at me. Julia Roberts! We just stood there, smiling at each other.” He jokes, “It’s like we had a ‘moment.’”
A few days later, I’m at Starbucks with Angela and Shannon. Angela joined the editorial team a few weeks ago, and she has flown in from Seattle so I can train her in person. She’d picked the Indian restaurant the other day, so she’d heard all of Jack’s stories. I think she kept quiet then because she knew she could trump him.
Now we’re talking about Seattle, and the late 80s-mid-90s Grunge Rock scene. Angela says she worked at the Sorrento Hotel when Grunge was at its height, and since she worked in Sales and Reception, she encountered a lot of celebrities.
“I helped Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love check out once. They used everything in their room but the towels. They pulled the mattresses off the beds and threw those Styrofoam packing peanuts all over the floor. And they had a huge doll collection lined up around the room.”
“Oh wow…did you see it?” I ask. I’d always heard that Kurt wrote “Doll Parts” for Courtney’s band, Hole, and now I know why.
“No, we heard it from the cleaning staff. They always let us know what was happening upstairs.”
“I also helped Duran Duran check out once. They were past their prime by then. It was kind of sad to see them standing around all tired in their crushed velvet jackets.”
“Do you remember Alice and Chains? I checked in Layne Staley once. All the bell hops were like, “OH MY GOD, THAT’S LAYNE STALEY!!!” I think Layne thought I was cool because I wasn’t freaking out on him. But really, I just didn’t know who he was. I was surprised, though. He was such a little guy with that great big voice.”
I love stories like this. And I’m not even the sort of person who reads celebrity gossip magazines. It’s just that I like flash reminders from the universe that we’re all just people skulking across the same soil at the same time. Basically we want the same things: To breathe in the air, and to survive; to form connections and blood lines and friendships and spiritual understandings; to find knowledge and comfort in the lessons others learned before us; and to communicate what we’ve learned—to pass it along, like ancient storytellers, from generation to generation.
Celebrities do all of these things in the public eye. They surge and stumble, and they face our reactions to that. Some handle it, some don’t, but if they can, they stick with the limelight. I think that’s mostly because they use their art as a means to be understood. That’s another thing we all want: Understanding.
And when you think about it, isn’t that what a blog is? A chance to stake claim on your own soil, and to be understood in spite of yourself? Or in my case, to help me find out at age 36 who the hell I’m supposed to become?
Happy 100th Post birthday to you, little blog. We have roughly 100 more of these posts to go. And if we walk away from this on April 17 meaning something to only each other, that will be alright with me. And that will be enough.
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