This past weekend, my husband and I unexpectedly ran into one of my very favorite actors, Bradley Whitford, at a local restaurant. More about that in a minute because first I would like to address the broader issue of meeting someone you’ve gawked at on the TV for years and dealing with the fact that you have had no preparation for this moment whatsoever.
Because if life was fair, this is how all unexpected celebrity encounters would go:
You would wake up looking better than you ever have before and your normal morning ablutions would elevate your personal appearance to somewhere north of 11. Your breath would smell like roses and sunshine, and your skin would be extra soft, as though you just molted and are sporting an entirely new epidermis. While you slept, your IQ skyrocketed and the ghost of Oscar Wilde descended from the heavens to deposit an inexhaustible supply of bon mots in your ear. Also, the little wobble that’s been forming under your upper arms for the last five years? It would be gone.
So you’d go outside in this optimal state and discover a world full of smiling fellow human beings. What clouds there are in an otherwise clear blue sky would have been transformed into the shapes of fluffy bunnies and a functioning U.S. Congress.
You’d go into your favorite coffee shop where, for once, the guy behind the counter does NOT act like a douche and instead greets you with a congenial handshake and highly profitable stock tip.
It is at this point that you would turn around and find your favorite celebrity standing patiently in line behind you.
“Good morning,” he or she would say, waving the Emmy, Oscar, ESPY, Pulitzer or Grammy award they carry around to signify their celebrity status.
“And a good morning to you,” you would say cheerfully. Then you would exchange a witty word or two about the weather, capped off with one of those Wilde bon mots you were graced with overnight. You’d say, “It is a pleasure meeting you. I am a fan of your work and your exceptional talents have brought me great joy over the years.” (If they are not, in fact, talented, you would find a suitably polite way to amend this last bit.)
And then your celebrity would say, “No, no, the pleasure is all mine. I look forward to writing about this encounter in my memoirs.”
And then you would both high-five each other on account of being mutually awesome before going your separate ways to enjoy the free unicorn rides outside.
In short, what I’m trying to say here, is that in the event of unexpected celebrity encounter, your optimal goal is to not look like an ass.
I did not achieve that goal this past weekend.
My husband did because he’s cool and suave, but me? I stood there and stared at Whitford like a slack-jawed yokel, a tiny voice in my head whispering urgently, “Stop being an ass. Stop being an ass.” But by then it was too late as Whitford smiled graciously at my husband and cast a quick look of pity and possibly fear in my direction as he backed his way out the door of the restaurant.
I would like to suggest the following safety protocol in order to save myself and others from future embarrassment. My modest proposal is this:
We all start carrying pre-printed compliment cards that we can quickly fill out if we find ourselves face to face with Justin Bieber or some random prom king. The card would read something like this:
Please circle the appropriate choices.
Hello ___________, it is a pleasure/not a pleasure meeting you/stalking you/accidentally hitting you with my scooter. I am a big/moderate/don’t know who you are but you look like someone I’ve seen in Entertainment Weekly fan of yours. How weird is it to run into you here in Los Angeles/The White House/this cell we are sharing after the robot ascension? I hope you have a nice/ok/tolerable day at the hands of your manager/the President/our new overlords. Before you go, may I shake your hand/snap a picture/pat your bottom as though one of us just scored a touchdown? No? That’s okay/not okay/now I’m embarrassed and this card did nothing to prevent me from looking like an ass.
Your name here
I really think this could save all of us a lot of trouble.