Oh, to be famous...

Lately my friend Therese (okay...she was first my brother's friend but now I've poached her to become my friend, too) has had lots of celebrity sightings. Apparently Hugh Grant lives in her neighborhood in London and she has crossed paths with him. And (who knew?) Jimmy Osmond the other day. And Kate Middleton, Prince William's girlfriend. And (correct me if I'm wrong here Therese) French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Which has made me wonder...what do you say to a celebrity?

Quote a line from his movie (don't you think she should say to Hugh "I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love me")? Pretend like you don't know who he is? Give a compliment? Bravely ask for a photo (or cunningly snap one with your phone on the sly)?

Famously (in our family anyway) my sister said to Alec Baldwin when she met him years ago, "Oh, to be famous!" That's it, just the wistful statement, which I think is classic. It's an all-purpose celebrity greeting! I don't think she'd mind if you used it, too. And I wonder if he remembers it?

Me, I do the ignoring thing. I don't know why. I guess I don't want to turn into a puddle of Beatles-come-to-America swooning & crying. Last year when I went through the Boston Museum of Fine Arts with Victor Garber I smiled coolly and then giggled and twittered behind his back. Repeated for each room of the exhibit. And in the cafe afterwards. That was pretty subtle, right?

So here are my celebrity sightings, what I did and what I maybe should have done:

  • Princess Diana (3x): waved once, acted cool the other two times. Now I wish I had reached out to her. It turns out it was a tough time for her around then. I should have helped her see how unhealthy life was for her at the palace. I could make her feel great about her body and talk her out of colonics and other crazy schemes. Sorry, Diana.
  • Prince Charles: looked sideways at him and then kept walking (plus there were bodyguards). I should have asked him for an internship, since I was an undergrad at the time desperate for a reason to stay in London. Darn. There's one window that's now permanently closed.
  • Merrill Osmond: Okay, to my 6th grade self it was a celebrity sighting. He kissed my cheek. Or was it Wayne? I should have asked about the big adam's apple. I've always wondered if he felt bad that it stuck out so much.
  • Robert Redford: My grandparents have a cabin near Sundance so I've seen him from afar a few times. Rumor has it that he used to stop by the side of the highway and take a ride on our rope swing out over the river. He's shorter than you imagine.
  • Victor Garber: see above. I should have impressed him with my spy skills and asked for a part in the next incarnation of Alias. I loved that show but I always thought Sidney was a bit too flamboyant and noticable for a spy. You know who wouldn't be looked at twice and could pass through security without being glanced at? Me, a thirtysomething mom, that's who.
  • Stephen Sondheim: (I know! Cool, huh?) Just watched him and soaked up his brilliance. I sat behind him in a play so I got to know the back of his head really well. That was enough, honestly. I wouldn't want to risk doing anything stupid. Although maybe if I hummed a little ditty he would be inspired to write another brilliant musical. You never know.
  • Senator Ted Kennedy: I watched him watch a basketball game. He was much more bent over in person. I'm pretty sure he didn't want to be bothered so I was right to keep away.
  • Karl Malone: I worked in PR in the hospital where his wife had a baby so I got to take a special gift and welcome them. I'm sure that's exactly what they wanted coming through that door in the middle of labor. (But there's one I actually spoke to!)
That's it I think. I know they're just people (the magazines tell me they do their shopping! they take their kids to school! they floss their teeth!). But it's still fun to spot someone you only know through the screen, like a big world-scale Where's Waldo.

Now that I think about it, I could have been instrumental in getting together a Sondheim/Osmond/Redford/Garber project launched since obviously I'm a link in their six degrees of separation! Ah, opportunities missed. Please tell me your celebrity stories. Make me feel better. Or school me in the ways of celebrity chat. Clearly I need it.