One never knows how they’re coming across on the internet. And in my years writing for this site and yelling on Twitter, I’m sure that, on more than one occasion, I have misrepresented who I am. But if there is one thing I hope has remained constant in all of my many established years of blogging, it’s my powerful love for Jeff Goldblum. He is my ultimate celebrity crush, the crown prince of Husband Material. I have had a crush on him since before I knew what a crush was, and his hyper-literate form of sexy nerdiness has undoubtedly informed every crush I’ve ever had since. So when I found out that he was going to be playing jazz standards at a snazzy hotel just uptown, I nearly broke a finger entering in my information to get two tickets, for myself and a coworker.
And dressed to the nines on a Thursday night, we traveled to the Carlyle Hotel — the famed “Palace of Secrets” where JFK knocked some presidential boots with Marilyn Monroe — to see Jeffyskins perform.
It should be said up-front that the experience is a pricey one. We were overwhelmed with the feeling in the small restaurant/cabaret that we were surrounded by people who do this sort of thing all the time. Another celebrity passed through singing some jazz standards, why not go see it? A lot of very Upper East Side-y crusties in their fur and diamonds, very few who came across as a true Jeff lifer. I immediately resented these people: How dare they take up such precious space in the presence of my husband? For them, this is just another thing to do, and that is what performances like Rita Wilson (who was on stage the week after Jeff, ostensibly to tell stories about being married to Tom Hanks) are made for, not Mr. Goldblum.
In any case, there we were, swilling vodka martinis the size of a small bathtub and the price of a decent pair of jeans, poking around plates of (frankly lackluster) chicken/scallops and waiting for things to begin. A nervous energy consumed us, as the ~*~industry insiders~*~ next to us ostentatiously name-dropped the celebs they knew. Suddenly, a man who looked like he could have been a brother or close cousin of Goldie himself approached our table, single silver earring flickering in the low light, and asked me if I wanted to heckle Jeff.
He explained that this was a planned part of the act, and that my job was to interrupt Jeff between his second and third songs — I had some sort of will to enact in the matter??? — with a corny joke, to which he would respond with equally corny jokes. Unsure that I would be able to fulfill this blood oath, I accepted nonetheless, and he dropped the slip of paper on my table.
And before I could even consider how I would go about it, as I attempted to steady my breathing, my coworker grabbed my arm. The blood drained from her face. Behind the bar, wearing an adorable pork pie hat (that he did out of style and not necessity, as his salt-and-pepper hair is youthfully thick), was Jeff himself. I looked away, feeling overwhelmed, like I was looking into the sun. He drew near to us, milling about the room with a little drink, fixing things here and there on his piano as if THIS WASN’T THE MOST INTENSE THING I HAD EVER EXPERIENCED.
Grabbing the mic off the stand, he began interacting with the small crowd a full hour before the show began, asking questions and bantering with the audience. It was friendly in a completely un-forced way, as he asked obscure cinema trivia and made offhand comments about his bride-to-be. I got the suspicion that the obscene ticket price probably helped with the relaxed feeling, as you weren’t likely to have any screaming groupies in a group as refined as this one. (Though a group of truly horrifying blonde women wearing body glitter, who ended up talking through the whole show, demanded his attention for several pre-show photos. It was too gauche to even look at, and our ~*~insider~*~ next door neighbor eventually shut them up, but they were the only ones of their kind). In any case, the vibe was chill, and he was clearly in his element.
At a certain point, he stopped to talk to a (scarcely visible, to me) man towards the back of the crowd. My coworker asked who it was and, just as the crowd dimmed to a low hum, I said rather loudly “Oh, it’s Matt Lauer,” with what was probably an (unintentional) tone of mild disgust/boredom. Several people turned around to find the person who dared insult the resident hot meerkat of the Today dynasty. It was nothing against Lauer, it just felt like a minor distraction to what was clearly the main course. He was the ground chuck to Jeff’s filet mignon. Nothing personal.
(I should note that during his light Q&A banter with the crowd, out of a frantic nervousness, I loudly answered two questions — the first I got wrong, and the second I got right — which felt about par for the course.)
And then, the music.
I must be honest here and say that I don’t know enough about jazz, or even music in general, to make a call on the quality of his piano-playing. And frankly, the nervous ringing in my ears during the two songs that came before my pre-ordained heckling was preventing me from hearing much. But I can say that the ambiance was solid, the saxophonist was going absolutely ham, and the girl who joined them on stage to sing a song or two was just the amount of musical theater whimsical you wanted her to be. It was all wonderful and lovely, no complaints.
But the moment came.
I heckled Jeff. I interrupted him loudly, then heckled him.
Then he read canned responses about me being an ugly broad, and immediately (in an adorably flustered way) apologized for how horrible his assigned responses were.
It was magical.
The rest was a bit of a blur, music and singing and adorable banter. He played a few songs I recognized, most that I didn’t. One of them he sang himself, in the most charmingly tone-deaf voice my ears had ever heard. The waiters flitted about, the martinis were refilled, and everything felt wonderfully Mad Men.
Before I knew it, we were shuffling out towards the (elegant, not that it matters) bathrooms, and my whole body was shaking. I hadn’t gotten a photo! How could I have let myself down in such a spectacular way?
But my intrepid coworker, bless her gentle heart, was determined to go back into the room — and into the fold surrounding our Jeffyskins — to get herself a photo. She went right up to him, I suppose slightly less handicapped by her tipsy admiration, and asked for a photo. I took it, and before she fully left his side, asked for one of my own. “Get in here,” he said, or something to the effect.
He pulled me in close and I did my best to smile like a normal human whose heart was not beating like a hummingbird.
“That’s the girl who heckled you,” my coworker said.
“Is that so?” he replied, pulling me in a bit closer, “You naughty, heckling girl,” he said in my ear.
I began wiggling uncontrollably, my whole life seemingly leading to this moment and me, completely unprepared for the adrenaline and serotonin flooding my body.
“Oh you wiggly, naughty thing. Wiggly girl,” He said.
“I can’t do this!” I exclaimed, wiggling free of his sturdy grasp and literally running to the door. “I can’t do this!!”
It was too intense. It was too much, all at once.
And as I poured out onto the street, my giggling, equally Jeff-enamored coworker following close behind, I felt the highest I had ever been. We floated to a brasserie down the street for an after-show drink, and I called a hometown friend who had always rivaled me in Goldblum stanhood (and who had been leaving frantic comments on my photos all evening), the joy and excitement spilling out of me in an uninterrupted stream.
My coworker and I came down over a glass of rosé, taking it all in and making sure it really happened. We concluded that it had, despite the excitement and the blurriness. And if you can stomach the ticket prices and obligatory consumption, I highly recommend you do it, too. Because if you’ve ever wanted to hang out up-close and personal with a legend like Jeff, this is the First Class way to go about it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take a cold shower.