I don’t find myself particularly interesting, so it always takes me off guard when I share a personal anecdote that catches other people’s attention. Others seem to lead much more fascinating lives: their child plays drums in a pre-school rock ‘n’ roll band; they’ve traveled to Amsterdam and consumed the world’s largest hash brownie; or have ghost-written Illiteracy for Dummies.
For example, last night I was out at a local steakhouse with some lesbian friends–which was curious, since they’re both vegetarians–and the subject of close encounters of the celebrity kind came up.
Now I have a disproportionate amount of lesbian friends, so they swapped stories about athletes that I’d never heard of before. Well, I did actually know whom Patty was referring to when she recounted accidentally knocking Hank Aaron’s Chick-fil-A sandwich out of his hand at the airport with her carryon.
“Have you ever had a close encounter with a celebrity, Jef?” Sal asked?
I struck a thoughtful pose, then said, “When I was in college, I worked as a cashier at a Target store in Fort Worth. One day, Martina Navartilova came through my lane and bought tampons.” Cue forks clanking against plates, glasses slamming on the table, and a wee lesbian choking on a cream-cheese-stuffed-deep-fried-jalapeno.
“What was she doing in Texas?” Patty asked.
Sal rolled her eyes. “That’s when she was living with Judy Nelson, remember?”
Patty nodded, then leaned across the table. “Give us details!”
My eyes tilted up, as if yesteryear were floating in the trees above the outdoor heater. “I was working the express lane–you know, 10 items or less–and Martina swaggered up and plopped a box of Kotex on my orange counter.”
“Did you ask for her autograph?” Sal asked.
“What was I going to ask her to sign? A tampon?” I asked. “Besides, I’ve always imagined that celebrities hate it when people act weird around them, so I just played it cool. I touch-keyed the department code and item number into my register and told her how much her tampons were with tax.”
“I would have completely told her how much I respected her as a tennis player,” Patty said, “and asked her to tattoo her signature on my forearm with a Bic pen.”
“What method of payment did she use?” Sal asked.
My eyebrows knit together. Typically, middle-class white women paid by check, blue-collar men paid cash, and Asian, Middle Eastern, and Indian people paid by credit card, usually Discover. However, I only had one female Wimbeldon champion come through my lane, so I had limited experience. “I guess she must have paid by cash, since it was the express lane. I really can’t remember.”
“What did the customers do?”
I shook my head. “They stared at her and acted goofy. I just wanted to shout at them, ‘You know, she bleeds just like you!’ but considering her purchase, it seemed a bit awkward.”
The lesbians ate this up and soon immersed themselves in a frenzy of tennis talk, as well as how cool it is that Martina and Chris Evert are best friends, while I watched with amusement.
I suppose if Martina hadn’t lit the fire of their interest so much, I would have retold the story of how Grace Jones almost ran over me with her limousine, but that’s another story for another day.
Have you had a close encounter of the celebrity kind? If so, please leave a comment and tell me about it.