By Tanya Silverman
Additional contributors: Jess Goulart, Michele Bacigalupo, Veronica Chavez, Lisa Autz
Under the sun, moon, and stars, we humans walk the Earth amongst seven billion others of our kind. On this planet, some of us are stars. Others of us get struck by these stars.
From waiting for the bathroom at the beach to waiting tables at busy restaurants, here are our anecdotal accounts of celebrity encounters.
Waiting tables is not a glamorous job. Your feet always hurt, your schedule always sucks, and by the end of a shift you know in your bones one disparaging truth: people are the worst.
Every now and then, though, if you work at the right restaurant you might get to wait on a celebrity, and that’s always pretty cool. At a historic burger joint where I worked for several years I had the privilege of serving Johnny Depp, who was without a doubt one of the sweetest, most well-mannered, generous guests I have ever met.
Depp walked into our dining hall and it was like an electric current shot through the air. All eyes fixated on him as he meandered to his table. Restaurant veteran though I was, my hands shook as I opened and poured a bottle of (very nice) red wine for his table, but his calm presence and encouraging smile eventually coaxed me to relax.
Unfortunately, word got out that he was dining with us and before the meal was halfway finished a throng of young girls were trying to get through the (locked) door. When Depp walked outside to smoke, he was instantly accosted by screams, autograph requests, and snapping cameras. Far from getting upset or turning tail, Depp stayed out there with his fans for half an hour, posing for pictures and signing whatever. He said afterwards that he never minds the kids, what he does, he does for them.
Oh, and he left an insane tip.
It was early afternoon in Manchester, Tennessee, at the sandstorm that is Bonnaroo. As we stood on the outskirts of the crowd for one of the smaller stages, we decided something was missing.
We traveled to the nearest alcohol vendor to order overpriced beers. As we sipped on the frothy beverages, another group made their way toward us.
“Hey! Where’d you get that beer?” the tall one asked. “Do they have margaritas?”
“I don’t think so,” I said. “Only beer.”
“Well we’re on a mission to find margaritas! Want to come with us?”
We agreed to join. Our circles merged to explore the nearby vendors.
My friend grabbed my shoulder and whispered loudly, “These guys are The Kooks!”
“How do you know?”
She was right.
The Kooks led us on a fruitless journey to find margaritas. When it was time to see more music, we parted ways. We wished The Kooks good luck on their search for tequila.
It was her first time at the popular Astoria bakery and she ogled at the displayed desserts in the same fashion as any new customer who walked through the door. She asked for my opinion on the pies. I suggested sour cream apple warmed up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. She nodded. She was with a friend and they sipped on their coffees and laughed while I stood nearby, racking my brain as to where I had seen her face before.
Suddenly it clicked–she had been a character on Gilmore Girls. A redhead on the show, her blonde locks had thrown me off, but now I was sure–she had played Francie, the sorority princess from Rory’s high school, Chilton (real name: Emily Bergl). I continued to refill her coffee and treat her as a regular customer so as to avoid any awkwardness. Once I gave her the bill though, I couldn’t hold back any longer.
“You’re an actress right?” I said as I dropped off the check.
Her friend answered with a chuckle, “You bet she is!”
I laughed and let her know that I had been binge-watching Gilmore Girls ever since the series had been put up on Netflix. The moment the words came out, I noticed the slightest droop in her smile.
“Thank you,” she said softly.
Once I retreated to an employees-only section, I whipped out my phone and quickly went on IMDB to find out what other works she had been in since GG ended. Turns out: a ton. Since then, I’ve told myself I’ll always Google before I approach any celebrities to make sure I don’t accidentally insult them.
It seemed like an ordinary occasion when I shopped for skirts in a Forever 21 store in upstate New York.
Unexpectedly, one young sales attendant blurted, “That’s him!”
“He’s cute!” her coworker commented.
I wasn’t really paying much attention.
When I proceeded to pay for the chosen green paisley skirt, my mission was physically intercepted by a big mass of man bumping into me. I stumbled slightly. He didn’t say sorry.
After I collected myself to proceed to the register, the cashier informed me that it was Alec Baldwin. That was about nine years ago. To this day, I still wonder what Alec Baldwin was doing in Forever 21.
Another time, just about a year ago, I was on the boardwalk by Queens’ Far Rockaway Beach, standing on a long line waiting for the restroom. It was hot and bright and I was angling my hat’s big brim to block off the sun’s scalding rays.
Suddenly, several of the line-waiters began wooing and pointing to the left. I propped up my hat to clear my vision; there strolled a weathered Rod Stewart, with bleach-blond spikes and a tan blazer.
When I returned to my beach blanket, I informed my friends of my encounter, making them a tad envious. To celebrate, we blasted “Maggie May” and “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” in the car on the ride home.
As I walked out of the labyrinth of a trendy SoHo lounge, I spotted a frazzled blonde chain-smoking outside. She leaned against the brick wall with an apathetic gaze and an uncomfortably tight dress on. There was a small crowd huddled around her.
I initially thought nothing of her except pity due to this middle-aged woman’s desperate attempt to fit in with the SoHo nightlife.
Then my friend gasped, “Woah, that’s Kirstie Alley!”
When I caught another glance at the details of her puckered face, I began to get a foggy nostalgia of a childhood movie I had once seen. I imagined her with wings on and a fairy crown and had an immediate revelation.
I grabbed my friend’s arm and pushed through sweaty bodies until I arrived at Kirstie Alley’s plastic face.
“Hey,” I said suddenly.
“Hi,” said Kirstie Alley, brushing me off.
“I remember you in that movie when you were a tooth fairy. I don’t remember what it was called. I think it was Toothless?” I said innocently.
Her eyes began to roll to the back of her head and her lips got tighter. Apparently I struck a chord from a slightly dead part of her acting career.
“That’s great,” Kirstie Alley said sarcastically and began to nudge her body away from me.
The conversation had apparently ended and I overheard her rant about how she could be my mother and how had I even got into the place. I never really liked that movie anyway.