Here’s how it went down: I was walking through a flea market on the outskirts of Paris. It was rather dark and dingy and useless trinkets were piled high in every corner, hanging from every ceiling. As I carefully waded through the broken vinyl records, musty sweaters, and three-legged nightstands, I finally emerged into a vast, open space.
“It’s time to take a break,” I muttered.
“Yeah, what a waste,” my friend who would soon not be my friend said. “This is Paris. I thought we were supposed to be serenaded by Cole Porter while discovering first edition Fitzgeralds and backlogged Life magazines.”
Yet just at the moment we thought the perfect Paris day was elusive as a ghost, a ghostly figure — pale as can be, familiar from somewhere, but where? — strolled onto the scene. She was flanked by two stone-faced Mexican bodyguards who looked about as unhappy to be there as we had been only two seconds ago. But in those intervening two seconds — oh those transformative two seconds! — I recognized her! My, how my day had suddenly changed from one of futilely stumbling through a labyrinth of knickknacks to one where I was only feet away from — deep breath — The Princess of Brooklyn, The Sexy Batman Cat, The Not-So-Good Oscar Host, The Intern in That Fashion Magazine Movie, the loved-and-hated actress herself: Mrs. Anne Hathaway.
Now, there are many options one has upon meeting a famous person. Do you run up excitedly? Or is a calm, cool saunter the best approach? Oh, how many times you have dreamt of meeting this person! So many scenarios have blazed through your mind! Would a quick kiss on their neck go over well? What about a witty zinger to get them laughing? Lo, your loins are burning! Your mind is racing!
The key though, before doing anything, is to have a plan in mind. Now, stay calm. My go-to tactic is to treat them just as I would a long-lost friend. Upon approach, you can just start a conversation as if you were picking it up where you left off with them years ago. Like, say you were approaching Tom Cruise, you could say something causal like, “Hey Tom, Tom-man, Tommy-old-boy, are you gay?” Then you two can have a deep discussion about identity and masculinity. No doubt he’ll invite you out for dinner and drinks with his entourage, and, blam!, you’ve just made a celebrity friend. Bottle service, private jets, and free Scientology classes would all become yours.
Another great tactic is to run over with all the excitement in the world brandishing a pen and paper. Celebrities love to give autographs and in no way could I imagine that this unrequited excitement from strangers would ever get tiring. If, for whatever reason, you don’t have a pen on you, God gave you a whole reserve of free ink. It’s called blood. Don’t be afraid to use it. Remember this is a famous person. No excuses.
Now what if the famous person in question is protected by bodyguards who are so big they could probably bench press you then eat you in one fluid motion? Now that’s a special scenario, but it’s the exact situation I found myself in while taking a break in the back of the Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt (it’s significantly less pretentious than it sounds).
My breathing quickened and my hands got clammy. “Hooooooo,” I breathed while bending over.
“Do you want to go say hi?” my friend asked.
“Wohohoho,” I uttered. “Ooooooooo.”
“Are you okay?”
“Okay, well I’m going to head over and say hi. That’s Anne Hathaway right?”
“Whaaaaa… ‘Course ‘sat’s Anne Half’way”
“You’re sure you’re okay?”
“Sure as sugar.”
“Sure as sugar? Okay, Cody, well I’m going to go say hi. Come along if you want.”
Dragging behind my friend like a sick dog, I made my way over to Anne and her guards. My friend smiled casually, and I tried to remember my own coaching. Keep it calm, I thought. Cool, calm, collected, and a lifetime of pointing to my friendship bracelet and casually telling my buddies back home, “Yeah Anne Hathaway has the other one” awaited me. If only I could’ve played my cards right. But, alas, like most things in this world it was all easier said than done.
My friend complimented her on Rachel Getting Married, dropping some knowledge about her Best Supporting Actress nomination. They spoke for a minute. She was in Paris seeing friends and was spending the afternoon at the flea market to buy a skirt. All the while, I stood in the background. As my friend awkwardly, somewhat forcefully, pushed me forward, I shook her hand. Oh god, my hands were sweaty. She gave a polite smile, no doubt looking forward to washing her hands with no less than five pumps of soaps.
But, whatever, I’m over it. That was the extent of the meeting. Two minutes. Three, tops. It was fine. Famous people are just like you and I. There’s no real reason to be weirdo about it. Right? That’s why I exhibited out-of-nowhere flulike symptoms. Because it was casual. No big deal. Oh! If only I had planned. If only I had followed my own advice to kiss her or ask for her autograph in blood or make a bizarre joke. Then nothing would’ve been awkward. Definitely not. Definitely.