I am a celebrity junkie. My favorite magazine is Vanity Fair, I occasionally make forays into Entertainment Weekly and, in true moments of weakness, People. It’s lately gotten so bad that I challenged my thesis advisor to a movie trivia standoff last week. He was good, I was better. Of course Jon Cryer played Duckie in Pretty in Pink.
Most of the time, I try to hide this habit under a veneer of respectability—stacking a New Yorker on top of a New York, or nodding agreeably at what Cindy Adams has to say about poor Winona Ryder’s rehabilitation while standing next to the World News section at the Coop newsstand. And even there, celebrity-mania gives you a different way of looking at the world: Sure, Dick Cheney is running our country and President Bush is fighting his father’s war, but, more importantly, have you noticed how this administration is a cross between “The West Wing” and “The Sopranos?”
So you can imagine what an epoch it was in my life when, unexpectedly two weeks ago, I got closer to fame than ever before, the before being the time I spotted Kato Kaelin in ninth grade and ran five blocks to make sure it was really him.
On Saturday, I went with two friends to cater at a birthday party for three women celebrating their 60th birthdays. Little did we know we were being paid $25 an hour to pass out hor d’oeuvres to Chris Affleck (yes, the mother of), one of the birthday women. So when Ben and Jennifer Lopez showed up, exuding their real-life, unphotographed celebrity-wattage five feet from the kitchen, the three of us exchanged glances of disbelief and started frantically piling frozen spinach puffs in the oven for an excuse (any!) to circulate.
A couple of minutes later I begin to hand out spinach puffs in the living room where Casey, Ben and Jennifer were sitting together on a couch with a blonde woman I recognized between them. As if the evening were not already bizarre enough, sitting with Casey on one side and Ben on another was no other than Ms. Boldt, my seventh grade homeroom teacher.
We both screeched out in recognition, and then Ms. Boldt did probably the nicest thing she’s ever done for me besides overlooking my chronic lateness to homeroom those many years ago—she introduced me:
Ms. Boldt: Ben, this is Sue, a former student of mine from Brearley.
Ben Affleck: (shakes my hand, smiles) Hey Sue, yeah, I’ve heard a lot about Brearley. So what are you up to now? And what are you doing here?
Me: (speechless, croak out) I’m a senior at Harvard, um, am working, really need the money.
Jennifer Lopez: (in turtleneck that looked as if it couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be a sweater or a blanket) Aww. Well, I’ll send you a bottle of my perfume, Glow.
Me: Wow. Thanks. Do you make your own?
Jennifer Lopez: Yeah, I started my own line.
Ms. Boldt: So can I have a spinach puff?
Me: Yeah, okay.
Jennifer Lopez: (in affected Bronx accent) These are yummy. Ben, try some.