Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Night to Remember

One of the perks of authoring a book of interest to people beyond your family and friends is that you just might find yourself in a green room alongside a favorite celebrity, and get that chance of a lifetime to say hello, and maybe a little more than that. This didn’t happen to me.

However, I did enjoy one brief shining moment with a former child star. And let me say for the record that it would not have been my choice of close encounters, but it was nevertheless a night to remember.

When our eyes met, I admit to not recognizing this star from yesteryear. But I was fortunately privy to a conversation she had with a fellow green room guest. And when she mentioned that she was an actress, I very discreetly went in for a closer look…but nothing…absolutely nothing. Then things turned a bit ugly as she veered into the subject of politics, uttering a series of vacuous talk-radio platitudes in the most haughty of tones. Mercifully, she ended her political rant and revealed the show in which she starred in over forty years ago. I knew her all right….

A little exposition is in order here: It was past midnight and several night owls, including me, were slated to appear on a radio show in the wee small hours of the morning. To appear on a program that wasn't likely to sell any books for me, I had to take the Number 1 subway train down to Chambers Street and walk several blocks to the ghostly vicinity of Ground Zero. And I would have to return from whence I came in the middle of night, a rare chance to see the city that never sleeps sound asleep.

As things turned out—bad karma in the late-night ether—this former child star was at the radio station on the wrong night. It was her mistake, but she made a big stink anyway, browbeating the show’s affable young producer. It was an embarrassing spectacle for the rest of us to behold.

Nevertheless, after this diva-without-portfolio performance, I decided—for my own amusement—to chat with her. How often does one get to kibitz with a former child star? I told her that I was familiar with the show she starred in once upon a time as a teenage girl. (She’s in her sixties now and was promoting the DVD release of the series.) After my short tête-à-tête with her, there was little doubt remaining that this woman was a real piece of work—ridiculously full of herself.

When, at last, the diva in our midst exited the green room for good—her complaining actually got her a spot, which bumped the rest of us back—the unlucky lady with whom she politically harangued, turned to me and asked with genuine astonishment in her voice, “She is someone famous?” This woman hailed from England and was not altogether familiar with American celebrity culture. I explained to her that she wasn’t famous in the least. More difficult was explaining how I knew who she was. For some reason, the British gal seemed greatly relieved that she hadn’t been talking with a bona fide American star, but a Hollywood nebula instead.

It was right then and there that I thought: What if I had run into somebody in the green room whom I actually admired, and that somebody turned out to be a real jackass? Happens all the time. Say, for instance, I was a big fan of William Shatner. I wouldn't want to end up in a green room with the man. And so I am grateful that no illusions were shattered in this chance meeting with a former child star. 

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