Monday, November 14, 2011

George Clooney is magic

Every year on the first weekend of November I travel to LA to interview some of my favorite actors for the Day of Days event. I go specifically for the event, which is always amazing. But it’s the things that happen during those hours when I’m not in soap opera mode that are truly magical, and what I’ve come to love the most.

Despite the fact that the weather wasn’t much warmer than Seattle—in fact, Mr. W and I got caught in a torrential downpour like nothing Seattle has ever seen while we were at Hollywood & Highland—LA treated me as well as it always does. The event on Saturday went better than I expected. Some of the cast couldn’t make it, but we got to interview everyone who was there (which never happens). The show brought back some old veterans recently and I found myself sitting across the table from a couple of stars I was enamored with as a kid. It doesn’t get much better than that.

But it did get better. Later that night Mr. W and I hit Citywalk in Universal Studios and drank giant drinks at a bar with a mechanical bull with friends we don’t get to see often enough. Our friend A arrived from Sacramento that night and we spent Sunday exploring the city (he’s considering relocating). On Sunday night, I suggested we go back to the amazing restaurant Mr. W and I had tried on Friday, a charming little Argentine grill in a strip mall.

As we drank our bottle of wine and waited for our dinners, we discussed A’s possible upcoming move to LA. Somehow the topic of celebrities came up. The streets of Hollywood are lined with brochures for tours that will take people to celebrity “hot spots” and past their homes. In reality, celebs blend right in with everyone else (as someone I follow on Twitter put it, they look like well-dressed homeless people) and every place you go is so crowded you would be overwhelmed if you tried to spot them.

“Besides,” I said, swirling my wine. “None of us watch enough TV to recognize half of them. They’d have to be, like, Jennifer Aniston famous or something.”

“Yeah, and what if you did see one?” A said. “I wouldn’t get starstruck. They’re people too.”

We talked about it for a few more minutes, and then I started to give A a wine-induced pep talk about how he should follow his dreams. As I lectured, a shiny Lexus pulled into the strip mall parking lot and stopped, waiting for the valet driver (yes, in a strip mall). A woman got out, decked out in a long fur coat. I looked her up and down, admiring her outrageous outfit. I was so busy looking at her that I didn’t see who was stepping out of the driver’s seat.

“That’s George Clooney,” Russ said matter-of-factly in the tone of voice that told me he wasn’t kidding. I looked over just in time to see George Clooney flash a sexy smile at the valet driver, toss him his keys and walk the young woman into the sushi restaurant next to us. I looked back at Mr. W and A. And we instantly became the people we were mocking, starstruck and ridiculous.

“Holy shit, that was George Clooney!” I kept saying, and we’d laugh. Not only did we see a celebrity, we saw the celebrity. I know people who don’t own TVs and all of them would recognize Clooney. It was as if the Universe was purposely bitch slapping us for thinking such a thing would never happen.

After dinner we headed to Howl at the Moon Piano Bar at Citywalk, where Mr. W and I had gone last year discovered the drinks were three for one, which made for a terrible Monday but also a great time. This year the special was still on and we took full advantage. The bar was crowded, so I couldn’t see much of the stage where the piano players were rocking out.

“That singer looks kind of like Zooey Deschanel or Katy Perry,” A said. Mr. W and I looked at each other, then tried to see the stage.

Last year, our waitress was the young Katy Perry look-alike. Mr. W and I had gotten chatty with her as a result of all our drinks. That night she ended up taking the stage and belted out “California Girls.” She said it was her first time up and it hadn’t been rehearsed, and that she really hoped to do more of it. One year later she was the star of the show, playing the piano and belting out song requests like she’d been doing it all her life. She sounded amazing and looked like she was having a blast.

And it really made me think. Who in the hell are we not to follow our dreams? No matter what they are, we should be. I started watching a soap opera when I was 11 years old because my life sucked and I wanted an escape. And it led to me getting the privilege of meeting them and interviewing them. I mean, really, who gets to do that? And what could I accomplish if I got out of my own way and really tried? I don’t want to be a piano bar singer but maybe I could run a 5K or something.

The first year I went to LA, I wound up getting dressed up like a Barbie doll by a gay boutique owner. The next year, the most unfortunate looking gentleman I’ve ever seen accosted me during Day of Days, absolutely insisting that I had to be on the show (because I’d come from the press room) and forcing his resume upon me. His resume was one giant run-on sentence in all caps about how he was going to “make it big” as an actor. I swore I couldn’t get him an acting job, but he didn’t believe me. This year, George Clooney got out of a Lexus in a strip mall and ate sushi 100 yards away from me.

Just when I think LA can’t top itself… it does. Every time.


Anonymous said...

Awesome sauce! As always!!! I have always thought I wouldn't recognized famousness... Even if it were George Clooney. Who is he again? ;)

Annie said...

You actually saw George Clooney...I am jealous! So I suppose the woman he was with is the newest one that looks like all the rest. Still a lot of fun! You are absolutely right...we need to follow our dreams and reach for the stars (no, not Clooney.)

Glad you had fun, Jessica.

gatordad said...

I know the feeling. It's like when I go to the Sebring sporets car race and walk around a corner right into Phil Hill talking to A. J. Foyt.

Trust me, it's just like you running into George Clooney! Only better...

JessicaLee said...

Yeah... except normal people actually care who George Clooney is. ;)

Kris said...

Jess I had no idea that this is what you wanted to do (i mean maternity bras are so interesting to write about!} or that you're doing it! Dreams can become reality. Loved this witty engaging post.

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