Cringeworthy

I was at dinner with a guy last night* (*blind date) who told me, “I’m probably the most interesting person you’ll ever meet.” It was a nice try on his part considering I had eliminated the possibility of him becoming the next Mrs. Noelle Tannenbaum before we even sat down. Also, when you weigh in the fact that I once met Mteve Sartin** his declaration was quite off the mark.

**This post is going to contain the names of some famous people. I’m using the -R- method of keeping the names Google-proof by reversing the first letter of the first and last name.

Recently, Mickey had a post about the brushes with fame he’s had in his short life. I commented that it would not be fair for me to participate in the game since I spent five years working in theatre, film and television, and encountered a whole lot of famous people. He sort of dared me to “whittle it down to seven.” I could take the easy way out and use the months I worked on a play as Jicky Ray’s personal dresser and was on a first name basis with Mave Damet. Our green room was a revolving door for the celebrated such as Mteve Sartin, Aoody Wallen, Ralman Sushdie, Farrison Hord & Falista Clochart and Sir Man IcKellan (who spent all night talking to the cute young boy who arrived with Heil Natrick Parris). But a laundry list like that feels like cheating, since all I did was say “hello” to most of those people before retreating to my wardrobe room to sew on the buttons that fell off during that night’s performance.

Remembering what a nervous wreck I was on the night I met Mteve Sartin, I’d like to recount the seven most embarrassing celebrity moments I’ve had in my 30 years: (I’m experimenting with “after the jump,” so click on the link for the rest of the post.)

1. When I was a kid, our family used to get hot meatball subs at this Italian place in the upper corner of our county. For some reason, my sister and I would get in our PJ’s first, and then we’d make the 15-minute drive to the quaint farm-themed shopping plaza and we’d eat the subs in the back of the station wagon. After we were finished, we’d swing by Nichard Rixon’s house, which was around the corner from the sub shop. I don’t know why we did this, if only for the thrill of seeing the bushes and the gate that obscure the view of the home of an ex-president. On one particular night by his house, a dog darted in front of the car, and when my dad swerved to miss it, he almost hit the guy walking the dog. My mom insisted that the man was Rixon, and she convinced my dad to pull over and apologize to the guy for almost hitting him. He did, and sure enough, it was Rixon.

Now I’m in the backseat, in my PJ’s, probably ten years old or something, and the only thing I know about Rixon is that he was a Bad Man. Not knowing the intricacies of what kind of Bad Man he was, I became afraid that he was going to kill us. However, it turns out that one never stops being a politician, because he was actually quite polite and said, “no harm done,” agreed to sign copies of his new book for my parents’ store, and went to shake everyone’s hand through the car window. I took one look at him extending his hand, freaked out, and hid under a blanket. Come to think of it, if the same thing happened today, I’d probably have the same reaction, but that’s mostly because he’s been dead for 14 years, and I’m sure the re-animated zombie corpse of Rixon might want to eat my brain.

2. In college when I was a theatre major, we had an artist in residence named Gichael Moodwin. Okay, he’s not as well known as some other actors, but he was in movies with famous people! It was my senior year, and I was stage managing our production of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” in which he was starring as Joe Keller. At the end of the play, he had to fire a live gun with blanks. As the stage manager, I was responsible for making sure that the gun was properly locked away each night and that the actor firing the gun was aware of how to use it safely. So I got a quick tutorial on gun safety from our tech professor and then I went out to go over the rules with Mr. Moodwin. Half way through my “and don’t point it at anyone’s face” spiel, I got flustered (I hate guns) and forgot how to load it properly, at which point Mr. Moodwin turned to me and said, “Noelle, I did two tours in ‘nam. I think I’ve got it from here.”

3. I worked at the Drama Book Shop for many years, a bookstore that is a hotbed of famous and not-quite-yet-or-ever-going-to-be famous folk. It’s a place where you never want to say, “don’t I know you from somewhere?” because the answer is likely to be “yeah, I was the dead corpse in last night’s Law & Order.” One afternoon, a short dowdy woman with a terribly ugly knit hat and no makeup came in to purchase many plays. The buzz on the floor was that she looked a lot like Mette Bidler. A co-worker and I were conjecturing and he said, “if that is Mette Bidler, she’s really old and rough looking.” The dude next to my co-worker looked over at him, and then at me, and as we made eye contact, I recognized him as the husband of Mette Bidler who was featured in a recent “Behind the Music.” When she was done with her purchases, I jumped behind the register and put on my most obsequious manner. She seemed happy, and I really hope the husband never said anything. (About a year ago, she came into the bookstore where I was working in the Hudson Valley, this time without the husband. I still felt bad, and I was super nice to her. I think I gave her a discount.)

4. Again at the DBS, I was ringing up a sale for a familiar looking young man who was buying every single Joe Pintaro play. As I rang up his credit card I slyly checked the name on the card (I got really good at doing that) and said, “Panny Dintaro, are you related?” It turns out that yes, they are, but they had never met. After that incident, I bumped into Panny Dintaro all around New York. I even went to his one-man show, which paled in comparison to his work with Dony Tanza. (Who I have not ever met.)

5. I was working in locations on a movie musical that was based on a musical that was based on a movie. (Let me say that Batthew Mroderick looks great!) In a film production, assigned roles are very specific, like the Indian Caste system. If someone becomes injured, you have to get a medic. So if Bel Mrooks gets a cut and the person standing next to him at the time is in the locations department, that person is supposed to find the medic and the medic can get the band-aid. But if the locations person really wants to be able to say for all time and on her blog that she once got a band-aid for one the best directors ever, she may bypass the chain of command, step over 25 people, break into the production manager’s, retrieve a band-aid, step over those 25 people again, and run back to that director to give him the tools he needs to stop the bleeding. Really, it’s the least I could have done as repayment for hours of entertainment. Even though he never knew my name or even looked at me while I was giving him said bandage, it was worth the humiliation I felt at having stepped on all of those people instead of just using my radio to get the medic.

6. The last movie I ever worked on was a complete train-wreck. I don’t think it’s ever going to be released, and to eve hear the name of it today sends shivers down my spine. During down-time one day, I was sitting next to Sick Ntahl in the holding room. He was looking at a trade magazine which had just announced the casting of Gake Jyllenhall (that really doesn’t change the name too much, does it?) in a gay cowboy movie. “Oh, that’s going to be good!” I said, “I love every movie he’s made.” Sick turned to me and said, “I auditioned for that role. That guy gets every role I’ve auditioned for lately, but they keep casting him because he’s more famous.” I felt so bad, because there really isn’t a good reason that Gake should get all the work in Hollywood. I kind of avoided Sick on set from then on. I really hope that he wasn’t also vying for the affections of Weese Ritherspoon, only to have Gake win that one as well. Sick’s a nice guy, he deserves a break.

7. Leaving the show biz for the book world wasn’t the end of my embarrassing celebrity encounters. Uracey Tullman recently wrote a book about knitting, and the rep from the publisher invited me to a small get-together at the bookseller’s convention to celebrate the publication of the book. Afterwards we had a chance to speak with her, so I went up and blurted out that I used to watch her show all the time when I was a kid. Her expression became pale and she said, “wow, that was a long time ago, wasn’t it?” Here’s a tip for you, if you ever meet a famous person and you are an adult: never tell that person you liked them when you were a kid. It makes them feel old. Furthermore, don’t try to backtrack by telling that person how much you like the animated show that grew out of the animated shorts from that person’s show when you are actually there to talk about that person’s book. It is more wise to compliment that person on something he or she actually did.

As I re-read this post to edit it, I guess the thing I’m most thankful for is the fact that I never been embarrassed around anyone like Michael Moore, Alan Alda, or Calvin Coolidge, because I wouldn’t have a way of disguising their names. I’m also can’t believe I’ve met all these people, even if I didn’t make a real connection with any of them, and none of them would recognize me today. For the rest of my life, I’d be happy to not have to feel foolish in front of the celebrated ever again, being a hermited writer is much more comfortable. UPDATE: I love that the commenters are playing along with-R-‘s celebrity formula. So much fun!

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25 responses to this post.

  1. Those stories certainly beat the time that Bevin Kacon waved at me from his car or I saw Oic Rcasek in the mall.

    I’ve been hoping for a Oic Rcasek sighting since moving up here. No dice yet.

  2. Posted by nancypearlwannabe on January 24, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Did you roll your eyes when your blind date told you he was the most interesting person you’d ever meet?

    If not, how did you manage not to?

    Blinking is a good trick in that scenario. But I also was in the “what can I do to make this boy not like me if I don’t like him” frame of mind, so I may have just not cared enough to stop them from rolling.

  3. What wonderful tales! I will have to pay a little closer attention to Sick Ntahl, since I’m enamored with Gake these days. Maybe I can convince him that Weese has taken all the roles that I’ve auditioned for in my mind?

    A friend and I were sharing our “famous people we’ve met” stories. Mine was the shortest of stories, being only 1 person (L Gove, sans his Special Sauce). She shared the stories of her and her husband trying to one-up each other with the same game. Then she casually mentioned how she met Drincess Piana. I think she won.

    Drincess Piana is a celebrity of the utmost caliber. She would be a really cool one to meet.

  4. I love your “Like a fish needs a bicycle” tagline, Noelle. Subtle. Surprising. Spectacular.

    Thanks. Sometimes, they just feel right.

  5. Great stories!

    I have a Bevin Kacon run-in as well. (He smiled at me when I was standing next to him buying a soda at a Farmer’s Market). Truly, the whole world is linked through Bevin Kacon.

    Even my mom is somehow connected to Bevin Kacon. It’s marvelous.

  6. I went to high school with someone sort of famous- as in we had most of our classes together during 9th and 10th grade and were in choir together and I roomed with his girlfriend at the All State Choir weekend. I also went to law school with his sister and was friendly with her. So when he showed up at the law school one day to see his sister, I said hi to him. He gave me a dirty look. I felt stupid, so I said, “We went to high school together.” He looked me up and down and said sarcastically, “Sure, we did.” Of course, a whole bunch of other people saw this exchange. I was mortified. Damn you, Khris Clein! (That name doesn’t really change much either, does it?)

    But that does not compare to the Mette Bidler story. Ouch.

    I like that story. I don’t have to worry about feeling so bad for him in light of the Hatie Kolmes story.

  7. Wow, you’ve had lots of celebrity run-ins!

    I liked how you clarified that first asterisk immediately for those of us who are asterisk-impaired. 🙂

    I learned my lesson last time!

  8. Posted by Jennifer M. on January 24, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Wow, you’ve met so many famous people. As an adult I’ve only met 2 or 3 and they were all in the same night at the Mandalay Bay in Vegas. However as a child I did meet Patherine Katterson and Gean Jraighead Ceorge when they came to my school after we read some of their books. . . I’ve seen Seorge Gtephanopolis in line at this Greek sandwich place in DC though. Rather short in person . . .

    They are always shorter than you think they’ll be!

  9. Great way to spin it and get it down to seven. You downplay the depth of the connections you have with these people, but I’d say those are all high-quality (despite the embarrassment) encounters.

    At the start, I thought we were going to get some more “cringeworthy” tidbits from the most interesting person you’ll ever meet. Another time, maybe?

    Nothing he said was more cringeworthy than that. I could easily create an entire post about how many other things were wrong with that date, but he was overall a nice guy, so I think I’ll spare him.

  10. Posted by SisterAlyson on January 24, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Holy crap…I totally forgot how we met Rixon! It was really dark and he was just walking along with his dog like a normal person. WEIRD! And why did we drive so far for Italian heroes? And how did I get shot-gun that day?

    I guess they were really good heroes. It was the 80’s, strange stuff happened. Like you got shot-gun for some reason, despite being the inferior younger sister.

  11. Wow. Doogie and Mavid Damet. I’m so awestruck!

    I LOVED the Uracey Tullman Show! I think I would have said something similar in the same situation.

    How funny that you thought Rixon was going to come and kill you!

    As a kid, you don’t really know the difference between election fraud and murder, I guess.

  12. Posted by tinetastic on January 24, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    The dutchess and I have met loads of those people of the famous persuasion since we worked at the hotel.
    I have met Nala Adla (how’s that for disguising that name?) See Dnider and Saul Pimon ( who was rather rude )(and I stole his autograph and by stole I mean I made a copy and handed the copy into the main office and kept the original)

    my best story has to be how I fell off a ladder (of the step variety) when Hon Roward walked into the gift shop.

    Needless to I get a bit star struck when I see famousness.

    I once almost fell off a ladder and died on Karson Cressley’s hair & makeup station.

  13. Posted by elizabeth on January 24, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Great post, but you left out the Serryl Mtreep story…..

    I once met Karolyn Cennedy in a ladies room, and guess what? She combed her hair and put on lipstick just like everyone else does! But I couldn’t stop staring at her in the mirror…..

    And Sister Alyson and Noelle were BOTH in the back seat the day we met the ex-president. And his dog scratched the paint on our car, by the way. Im glad I never voted for him.

    I’m glad you never voted for him, too. Too bad about the Dad being a Republican thing. I only left out the Serryl Mtreep story because it’s buried somewhere in my blog archives. But that was embarrassing, too.

  14. This post is so funny – I’ve been laughing and reading aloud to my sister. I’m quite impressed with your list of famous people. The only famous person I’ve met is Beorge W. Gush – he was at my high school graduation and gave me my diploma – I like your list so much better!

    How did you not punch him in the face? I would have loved the chance to do that.

  15. Posted by andyouknow on January 25, 2008 at 12:08 am

    Noelle, when is your mom going to get her own blog? I always love your comments, Elizabeth!

    We need to get a petition going or something.

  16. I was going to say your mom’s comment is awesome, too, but R beat me to it.

    I love that you were afraid of Rixon.

    It always felt so daring when we drove by his house.

  17. I have some pretty good famous person stories from the time that Adward Elbee directed me in a play in college, and we hung out with him a lot after rehearsal. Adward’s an odd duck, but I liked him. We’d pile onto his bed and make him tell us tidbits about other famous people. (Tiz Laylor has stumpy legs, Dandy Sennis was crazy and had 36 cats, etc.)

    Your stories are fabulous. I’m quite sure if I ever met Uracey Tllman or Bel Mrooks or Mteve Sartin, I would make a total fool of myself.

    Adward Elbee came to our college my freshman year when the theatre was brand new. Someone saw him use the men’s room, and we named the “Adward Elbee memorial Urinal” after him.

  18. Anyone else ever think that M!ley Cyru$’ name IS the mixed-up, disguised version? Something about her name just doesn’t sound right. Should it be Ciley Myrus?

    I guess that’s why she went with the rhyming stage name. To cover the shame.

  19. That poor dude must not have realized that you know me. Otherwise, he’d never have tried to pull off such a bald-faced lie.

    I think what he really said was, “I’m the most interesting person you’ll ever meet in person until such day as you get to meet Aaron in person.”

  20. You must be a celebrity yourself after having been so near to so many. You know, celebrity-ism is like a non-smoker to second hand smoke….or something like that.

    After your date said that line, I would have hit him with a few of these stories and been like, Who’s the most interesting now, SUCKAH!?! But guessing from his comment, this may have turned him on instead of off.

  21. Posted by Jess on January 25, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    I remember watching the Ieremy Jron’s Lolita with friends from home and making them stop it and rewind to see my acting teacher Gichael Moodwin. I felt worthy. Or something.

    I met KK Bing once…just wanted to write that one out to see how ridiculous it looks!

    And then there was the time I housesat for a friend who lived in the guesthouse of Bevin Kacon’s brother’s outside of Philadelphia. Ah, just a couple of degrees away…

    And I’d totally sign the petition for your Mom’s blog!

  22. Did you want to get up and leave right then? can u make yr. phone ring and fein an emergency? or get friends to call 1/2 hr. into the date (make that 15 min.).
    Great post here!!!

  23. Sounds like your date was VERY confident. I don’t know that I would have been able to stomach dinner after that!

  24. Somehow, I find Man IcKellan to be the funniest reversal of names contained in this post. Possibly because his first name now says something about his personal tastes?

  25. Posted by The Grey Boy on January 28, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    When I was in Vegas, I ran into Hoody Warrelson coming out of a casino.

    I asked to have a picture taken with him, which my friend took a split second before he grabbed my shoulder to keep from tumbling over.

    He smelled like Jim Beam’s prodigal son.

    After he got into his car, my friend realized she had the camera on movie mode.

    I so could have uploaded his drunk ass.

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