It was around 1PM (Aug. 30th) when Devon and I walked up Broadway — we had grabbed a quick bite to eat at a dumpling place on Eldridge Street and checked out the Muji next to Duane Reade on Broadway and Grand Street, and was on our way to where I thought the second Muji was, on Houston and Broadway. While walking up the tourist-infested sidewalk, Devon saw the Scholastic store and suggested that we check it out. “Why not?” I said. “We have all the time in the world.”
We were met with a cool breeze from the air conditioning unit hidden somewhere in the ceiling. We walked down a narrow stretch of hallway on the left side of the building and found ourselves surrounded by Clifford the Big Red Dog, Captain Underpants, some Star Wars lego figures, and tons of picture books. We browsed through the aisles until I saw someone familiar — he was leaning over some pink picture books. He wore all black — black shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, a backpack. His hair was long, about shoulder length, and had a beard.
“Is that Jason Schwartzman?” I asked Devon. Jason Schwartzman, if you don’t remember, starred in Rushmore, Darjeeling Limited, voiced Ash in Fantastic Mr. Fox, and was part of many other awesome movies. She glanced over at him and her eyes widened. “It is him!” she said. I looked over again and I saw Mr. Schwartzman looking over at us. He had his phone pressed to his face and was in the middle of a conversation with someone somewhere. I quickly looked down at my feet and walked around some stacked Lego Star Wars Star Destroyer boxes. Jason freaking Schwartzman was in the Scholastic store? I looked around. The store was basically empty, but for a few mothers with their strollers. They didn’t seem to know who he was.
I looked to see where Devon went — she had walked over to the other side of the small store to where some cute stickers were. I quickly walked over and stared at some Lego Ninjago boxes. Mr. Schwartzman was still on the phone. “I wish we could get a picture with him,” I said. Devon nodded. Then I looked up to see him standing not more than a foot away from us. He was looking at some toys and glanced over at us. I made eye contact with him. I wanted to say hello, but I felt incredible shame. For one thing, you can’t interrupt a phone call — you just don’t. And two, I was starstruck. Devon confirmed that it was Mr. Schwartzman. That man was about 5’6″, had that distinguished mole, and his voice sounded exactly like Jason Schwartzman. After that encounter, we moved towards the entrance of the store. “I can’t believe it, this is so random,” I said. “Celebrities are people, too,” Devon said.
We stuck around for a little bit, looking at some Lego-fied Frank Lloyd Wright houses. Mr. Schwartzman aimlessly walked around the store as we left, still on the phone.
When we got to Houston and Broadway, we found out that the store I thought was Muji was actually Desigual.