It Felt As Though I Had Skiied with Prince William Because I Saw a Picture of Princess Margaret in a Parka

There was that time in high school when, on the way home from a speech meet half way across the state, the forensics bus pulled in to a diner in Belgrade, Montana, and we orators and extemporaneous speakers suddenly found ourselves gasping with awe at the sight–in real, live Aqua Netted flesh–of the members of rock powerhouse Night Ranger settling in to vinyl booths and weighing the merits of a Meat-Lovers Scramble versus the Country Fried Steak (side of hashbrowns).  Working up courage that my gauchos and I didn’t know we had, I worked my way past the plastic menus, past the stuffed bears holding hearts next to the cash register, past the gumball machine featuring a sticker for “Jerry’s Kids.”

My progress across the linoleum tracked by all 12 eyes of the Lincoln-Douglas debaters, I landed at the Ranger table and presented, with trembling hands, a bare placemat to lead singer Jack Blades.  For his autographical consideration.  Tossing back his luxurious tresses, tugging the spandex (and a ballpoint pen) out of his crotch, he obliged. 

As I watched each Ranger apply his own personal flourish to the water-ringed placemat, I was overtaken by a feeling that this moment–this crazy convergence of Jocelyn and Famous People–meant something.  Through the act of walking up to Their Rangersty and standing for a brief moment in their orbit, it was like I’d actually been at their concert in Bozeman earlier that night; like I’d actually forced my way to the front row and pressed up against the protective line of bouncers; like I’d actually gasped for breath while waving my hands in the air and mouthing every. last. word. of “Sister Christian”; like, at the very moment that I shouted out “What’s your price for flight,” the drummer caught my eye and gave me a wink. 

It was like, to put a finer point on it, I was famous. 

A similar thing happened a few years ago, as my family and I sat in the Minneapolis airport at our gate, waiting to board a flight to Guatemala.  Savoring my last mocha for a few weeks, I bent my neck backwards and attempted to suck the residual chocolate drippings from my cup–simultaneously spotting, out of the corner of my eye, romantic comedy actress Andie MacDowell sitting a few seats away, all curly hair and Southern accent on a cell phone.  In the time it took her to say the words “I’ll bring a bottle of red wine, and we’ll just have a relaxing evening” to the person on the other end of the line, I transported myself, mentally, to her home in Asheville, North Carolina, and a night of stir fry, wine, and naughty stories of weddings, funerals, and mug shots shared around an oak table with her and former co-stars Hugh Grant and Gerard Depardieu.  Thanks to her proximity in an airport waiting lounge, Andie MacDowell rubbed her fame on me.  It smelled faintly of rosewater and croissants.

Isn’t this what people do?  At least people who get their heads turned by celebrity, gossip magazines, and the taut pores of The Well Off?  You know, shallow people with a hint of The Crazies?  Like, hypothetically, me?  We get a weird rush in those moments of chance encounter with Fame–we decide our lives have a whiff of importance because we once saw Heidi Klum place a box of Cap’n Crunch into her shopping cart (Mind you, I never did, but wouldn’t that be so awesome?  I would totally take a break from reading Tolstoy long enough to gape at a super model touching food because, by extension, a Heidi spotting would also imply that Seal could one day write me a song and sing it at the Grammy Awards, an event that would merit Valentino designing me a custom gown, and I think we can all agree that there’s nothing more attractive than an unknown vaguely-heftyish middle-aged woman stuffed into a sweetheart neckline and a clinging bodice, teetering around the red carpet in a pair of Louboutins that serve to highlight the leg veins that are developing varicosely).

I’ll admit that my brand of Crazy might be more extreme than most–I not only considered myself lit by fame when Al Franken, on a fundraising tour of the state, walked past me in the Holiday Inn parking garage and said, “Hi,” but my life took on Magical Shimmer by Association because my husband once shared an elevator with Tour de France winner Greg LeMond (picture me in the yellow jersey as I lead the peloton up the Alps!), and I briefly believed that I was legend of jazz when my girlfriend Colleen ran into Cab Calloway in a Wisconsin airport.  Colleen also had a chance run-in with children’s television star Mr. Greenjeans, which felt, from my viewpoint, like I’d just stuck my tongue down Captain Kangaroo’s throat.

So, yes, I’m a celebrity nutjob of the first order, but even those who are more grounded in–how you say it?–reality buy in to a certain amount of “If I visit Princess Diana’s memorial, then it means she was more special to me than she was to all those sods who have never made the pilgrimage.  In my small way, I own a piece of her.  Plus, I follow Stephen Colbert on Twitter; we share something intimate.”

As Galileo knew early on, it’s human nature to stare at the stars.

All of this is preamble to the fact that I’m about to be even more famous than the time my mom took me to see Richard Nixon step out of the plane on the tarmac at the Billings, Montana, airport, and he waved to the crowd for a minute, an act that, several years later, made me feel complicit in the Watergate tapes.

The way I’m about to be famouser is this:  our neighbor in Ortahisar asked for some help with potting a bunch of annuals; Laura does this every year, but filling her home with beautiful color is particularly important this year, as a reporter from the New York Times is coming any day now to interview Laura about her amazing home, a compound that she and her Turkish partner have conjured out of ruins and over the course of years.

I was sick when the potting days happened (having been relegated to a rather different form of “potting”), but Groom and the kids headed over and played in the dirt.  Once the work was done, I hobbled over to admire their efforts and to take a few photos of the place.

Thus, not only am I pretty much a photographer for the New York Times, this whole business of “I was at a place that’s being featured in a world-famous newspaper, and my husband planted those petunias” has me convinced I may also have been part of the Lindbergh kidnapping.

Of course, beneath all my nonsense is a grain of sanity.  After getting the “cook’s tour” of the compound from Laura, after enjoying tea and conversation with her, after having had the best meals of our year at her home, after watching movies on her massive television screen, after being the beneficiary of her selfless graciousness on repeat occasions, I realize my quest to “know people of importance” is satisfied every day, all the time, by people like Laura.

She completely outranks Jack Blades in my pantheon, which is why I’m teetering down the hill right now on my Louboutins, heading to Laura’s spread,

a paper placemat in hand.

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24 responses to “It Felt As Though I Had Skiied with Prince William Because I Saw a Picture of Princess Margaret in a Parka”

  1. Jazz Avatar

    Night Ranger? Stephen Colbert?

    Who me? Out of touch with celebrity? We must have a glass of wine – ok a bottle – so you can convince me of the inherent interest of celebrities.

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      Jazz, honey: I would never ask you to waste your brain cells on the dummies…but Stephen Colbert is SOOOOO up your alley. Try watching a few clips from his show on YouTube, maybe. He’s awesome.

  2. chlost Avatar

    I can totally relate. I have more than a few “close encounters” which I will repeat for anyone who will sit still for that conversation. Oh-one of them involves Al Franken.
    But you tell the stories so much better.

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      DOOOO tell! I love a Brush with Greatness story.

      1. chlost Avatar

        We’ve actually met Al and Frannie (ah, yes, we are on a first name basis, you see!) at several political events. They are great. We have several photos with them as well. There are other good brushes, as well, but I will limit my regaling to one story only.

  3. kmkat Avatar

    Does it count if #1 Son saw Michael J Fox eating in his (#1 Son’s) favorite taco joint near the hospital in NYC? (Said hospital is world-famous for Parkinson’s treatment; presumably that is why MJF was there.)

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      Yes, kmcat, yes, it does count. This means, of course, that I now count among my celebrity coups the fact that someone who reads my blog has a son who saw MJFox and his son eating tacos, which, in turn, means I’m the president of Mexico.

  4. Jenn @ Juggling Life Avatar

    When I was growing up I was so frequently mistaken for either Jodie Foster or Tatum O’Neal I actually started signing autographs. In Santa Monica the brushes with celebrity are frequent, so one tends to become a bit jaded.

    But if a flower your husband potted shows up in The New York times I will certainly consider that you’ve had a brush with greatness!

  5. Christina Avatar

    Ok Luv, this has got to be one of my favorites so far! You are just my brand of crazy. You and Diane HAVE to talk, I’m tellin’ ya. Not to make you jealous or anything, but I am the person I am today because of my close connection to Ruth Gordon, of ‘Harold and Maude’ fame. She took me under her wing and transmitted her wisdom and love of life only shortly after I sat behind Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) on a plane to Hobart. He sat in coach, and ordered the vegetarian meal, by the way.
    And my musical genuis? Well that comes from the artist formerly known as Prince, of course. The fact that one of his bodyguard’s daughters attended my highschool (and did a rousing rendition of 1984 in a sexy bodice for a pep rally one time) only planted the seed of talent in me. It came into full blossom when I worked at an accounting firm where my musical mentor had his taxes done. (No, I didn’t actually TOUCH his return, but I did touch the guy who did them….)

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      Christina, I couldn’t have asked for a better comment from you. I kind of think anyone who has a Cat Stevens plus a Prince connection with fame should adopt me. Because then it’d be like I’m Sheila E. or something.

  6. Deborah Avatar

    I can’t compete with this, Jocelyn. I don’t think seeing Roger Moore’s wife (at Calgary airport) from behind at 100 paces counts for anything. And I might even have been hallucinating.
    Couldn’t help but think of Vicki and Mr P while reading this, and how they might only end up in the annals of the Turkish Legal Reveiw, sans petunias.

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      Roger Moore’s wife’s behind qualifies as an AWESOME celebrity sighting, Deborah. And, yes, Laura’s situation is distinctly different from Vicky’s, probably due to her having a Turkish partner who does the talking and negotiating and overseeing of workers.

  7. Friko Avatar

    Well, seeing that I don’t know any of your famous people, I am probably way out of your league. Famous is as famous does, after all.

    But I, and I mean this most sincerely, have actually shaken Prince Charles’ hand, and had a conversation with him of no less than 8-10 minutes. And I also saw Princess Diana from a distance of about 2 metres, except she had her back turned to me.

    As for musicians and opera singers, I’ve lost count of the number who have been fortunate enough to have made my acquaintance.

    Luckily, unlike you, I am not a name dropper; a very ill-mannered habit, you know.

    By the way, ‘my’ castle has about as watertight a roof as the dwellings in the flickr film surrounding your friend’s fancy house. You could come, of course, but bring your own umbrella.

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      “Ill mannered” might define me perfectly. However, when I move in to your damp house, I promise to fake good behavior for at least a week.

  8. Julie Sucha Anderson Avatar

    I saw Burt Reynolds in the Minneapolis airport. He held a big envelope with his name on it. And, I saw Richard Nixon wave when my mother dragged me to the Denver airport. Maybe Billings was his next stop.

    Laura’s house is beautiful. I’m glad you found her, and how cool – I have a scoop on the NYTimes.

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      The best part of the Burt Reynolds’ story is that envelope. I LOVE that touch.

  9. Choochoo Avatar

    when i was little, i once met a famous singer that mum was a die-hard fan of. I was sitting in a sandbox, irresistable to passing celebrity, of course. She came up to have a chat. I knew I wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, so I shut my little mouth like a clamb and completely ignored her. That was the one time my mum was a bit disappointed that her kid was very unlikely to get inside someone’s van to see their imaginary puppy.

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      You and your mom should have worked out a secret signal that meant “This one time, Choochoo, I want you to be nice to the stranger; but every other time, scream your little lungs out.”

  10. sweffing Avatar

    I feel very inadequate in such august company – no fame has rubbed off on me. But I have recently met some wonderful, famous British flautists, does that count?

    Love the pix of Laura’s gaff, but what about water? Is it ever rationed or are there plenty of wells and springs around?

    1. Jocelyn Avatar

      Good question about water! There are a fair number of natural springs around, so it doesn’t feel as egregious to see a hose at work here as it does, say, in Las Vegas.

  11. lime Avatar

    woe is me, common among common…no brushes with fame to elevate me but that house and its setting…gorgeous. i am consoled.

  12. secret agent woman Avatar

    I’m not sure you should admit to having worn gauchos. Seriously.

    I don’t know who Night Ranger is, but I often wonder about the whole concept of friending celebrities on FB and or being co-twits with them or whatever the appropriate phrase is. I feel less special when I’m just one of many followers, which is why I generally prefer just regular people.

  13. pam Avatar

    My brushes with fame, all in my twenties. Elton John at Heathrow Airport, a mafia don in Philadelphia (long story, and does it qualify?), and I went to a concert once by myself of internationally renowned pianist Roger Woodward at the state Festival Theatre. The man sitting next to me asked at the end of the concert if I would like to go back to his dressing room and meet him. He was a music critic.We were all so young then! I doubt I’d be asked back anywhere these days! Overdue for a celeb. encounter – might help if I got out more!

  14. Pearl Avatar

    Oh, Joce, I just love you so much.

    …As Galileo knew early on, it’s human nature to stare at the stars…

    I helped Ziggy Wilf (owner of the MN Vikings) find a diet Sierra Mist at a graduation party last weekend. We’ll probably get married. You’ll be invited, of course.


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