In a desperate search for Febreze I headed to the Astor Place Kmart. I try to visit my not-at-all-friendly Manhattan Kmart on a quarterly basis. Something about visiting a chain store makes me guilty. Shouldn't I find a local independent Febreze stockist? But if I can save $2 a bottle on my favorite overused household indulgence and stock up on sponges, pens, garbage bags, and bulk Crystal Light all in the course of an hour and a cab ride, I'm game. I walked over for my Febreze fix after a walk through the Greenmarket at Union Square. I had stopped at my favorite stand, Our Daily Bread, for whole-wheat cinnamon raisin scones. It was cold and gray, and I couldn't help but admire the women running the stand in their heavy woolen hats and fingerless gloves, shivering in the cold, serving fresh-baked bread and scones. If only my favorite bakery folks sold household goods and fabric refresher -- I'd never go to a big old chain store.
Scone-loaded, I made my way into Kmart and up toward housewares. The man one step above me turned around and started yelling toward a pink-cheeked woman down below. Recognition set in -- I knew that woman. But how? A college friend? No. Ally Sheedy? Yes, if it was 1980 and she'd remained frozen in time. Parker Posey? Indeed! A stellar star-sighting, for sure -- Parker Posey in Kmart. She was shopping, alone and had a gray plastic shopping basket perched playfully on her arm. Fantastic. I should have thought to offer her a scone.
I'm truly a sucker for a star-sighting -- it's part of the magical reality of living in NYC. I've sat next to Susan Sarandon at a reading and I sat behind George Stephanopoulos and the tall guy from Penn and Teller at the opening-night screening of Hannibal. It's great vapid fun, and a bonus for living in a city that makes me wait a long time for a bus and pay too much for coffee.
Some of my friends have a knack for star sightings. My boyfriend, the long-haired Chuck, has made Al Franken a margarita and he's rubbed against Judd Nelson in an elevator. My friend Caren ran into Tobey Maguire and Alicia Silverstone -- even better, she's had her foot stepped on by both Philip Seymour Hoffman and Quentin Tarantino. Painful but memorable crushes with fame.
In the suburbs of my youth I occasionally crossed paths with a few high-profile folks: Billy Dee Williams wrote "Happy 13th Birthday Rachel" on a piece of scrap paper for me, and LaToya Jackson came to my hometown of Middle Island to help dig up the remains of a stranger's dog in a scandal-ridden pet cemetery. During a high- school outing to NYC, some friends and I had the surprise of sitting in on a recording of the late Jeff Buckley's CD, Live at Sine. Two of those friends made it onto the album cover.
But those occurrences weren't part of everyday life -- they were exciting anomalies.
Nothing quite compares to skulking into work and catching the late, great Jerry Orbach filming a scene from Law & Order outside your office. My friends, all aware of my adoration, encouraged me to ask for an autograph. But I couldn't. The magic was in the simple seeing. The same was true when I spied John Cusack, the dream boy of my younger Bell Jar--reading self, reading the Times and having a coffee at a local lunch spot near my office.
A chance celeb encounter even led me to a new friend this year. Christian Finnegan is a comedian who, among many other things, appears on the VH1 show Best Week Ever. My boyfriend's daughter, Lauren -- clever and 14 years old -- took a liking to Christian's sense of humor. She'd mention him from time to time when she came to visit; she'd make us watch Best Week Ever over and over and over. On a quiet summer afternoon Chuck and Lauren and I were painting pottery for fun and amusement in the Village. Who should walk in but Christian Finnegan. I started to giggle. Lauren blushed and shot me a look that said SAY NOTHING. I was good, we walked out, and I went home and blogged about it. On that pottery-painting day, Christian was accompanied by his girlfriend Kambri. Kambri came across my blog entry about Christian in a Google search. Kambri sent me an e-mail about it and we became fast friends. She's a publicist; I'm a publicist. And we share a common amazement at the fact that we're working in NYC and that life overall is good and sweet and full of chance encounters.
So while it might seem giggly and young to care so much about spying a celebrity getting onto the subway or ducking out of a deli, it's still a little moment full of magic and possibility. And it's just one of those NY things that reminds me how endlessly disarming and unusual it is to live in NYC.
Oh, if you're reading this, Mr. Cusack, I'd really like it if you could make it to my next birthday party. I would have asked that day at Shopsin's, but you looked so busy with the paper and all.
Rachelpink Rides the Bus: rachelpink.typepad.com/rachelpinkridesthebus/