Humor: Star Struck
I am way less cool than I think I am.
On a recent morning, I went running in Pan Pacific Park here in L.A. After three laps, I headed to the playground so I could do yoga and bodyweight exercises on the all-weather surface. In the middle of hero pose, as I was focusing on pulling my shoulder blades down and together, stretching my arms up, someone said, “Hi!” in a friendly manner.
The voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I looked up…
And it was Jeff Goldblum.
(To those of my readers who don’t know who Jeff Goldblum is, he’s an actor and jazz musician who makes a frequent appearance in science fiction films. To those you who don’t understand how I know who Jeff Goldblum is because you know I don’t own a TV, don’t have Netflix, and rarely watch a movie, you need to understand that I was the nerdiest of the nerds as a kid. My teens were bookended by The Fly remake and the film adaptation of Jurassic Park.)
I mumbled, “Hello,” then went back to hero pose.
Afraid that if I opened my mouth, I’d blurt out, “THE END OF THE FLY WAS SO SCARY, I RAN FROM THE THEATER,” I moved from hero pose to a deep squat and then into warrior pose, outwardly ignoring Jeff as he played with his kids on the playground equipment.
Inwardly, however, I kept thinking, Jeff Goldblum just said, “Hi!” to me!
Twenty years into living in L.A., I should know how to handle this better. I’ve bumped into Mila Jovovich returning something at Bed Bath and Beyond when buying sheets, browsed books at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books while Jane Seymour paid for her purchase at the register, and shopped for Chanukah gifts at Toys ‘R’ Us (alev hashalom) beside Lisa Kudrow—twice.
And I can talk to celebrities without sounding like an idiot, at least sometimes. Once, while crossing La Brea Avenue, I was stopped by Terence Stamp.
“Excuse me,” Terence said. “Can you give me directions to the Farmer’s Market.”
In response, I gave him perfectly coherent directions and even managed a smile. Then I crossed the street very quickly, entered my place of work—a local day school—and nearly burst into tears, because nobody, I mean nobody, in that office knew who Terence Stamp was and all I wanted to do was shout, “I GAVE GENERAL ZOD DIRECTIONS!”
My fangirling extends to less shallow levels of celebrity. When Rabbi Orlowek circulates at a kiddush after he speaks in shul, I am incapable of coherent speech. Once, someone encouraged me to approach Sara Yocheved Rigler after a speaking engagement, and I turned magenta and ran in the opposite direction. And when my friend Devorie mentioned she’s related to the poet Yehoshua November, I squealed.
I like to think I’m mature, refined. I aspire to be a lofty Yid. But my goofy reaction to Jeff proves that deep down, I’m still as nerdy as I was in high school.