Celebrities

Everywhere I go, I see them. I am talking about the celebrities.

The day arrived when I understood. I had not found them, they had found me. It made sense. I wasn’t looking for the celebrities: it was the other way round. A celebrity is always on the lookout for me, hoping that if she just stands on a dais I will buy a ticket and applaud. Or at least pay attention.

The celebrities photobomb my browser and wait for me to turn on the radio. They haunt the checkouts of the grocery stores I frequent. The sad looking cashier is on break, talking about the celebrities with a co-worker. We all talk about the celebrities because they are fascinating. They are shy and insecure but they want us to love them, so they adopt loud gestures and dress in attractive bright clothing, like a peacock hoot dash, and we reward the effort with attention.

Celebrities are glamorous. All of their friends are celebrities, and together they spend their time at the fascinating parties of famous people with perfect hair and nice teeth. When you are a celebrity, there are boats and children and parks and dogs with your name, all around the Earth. You always smell good. Everything you do is interesting.

While the non celebrities eat Cheerios, the celebrities are flying to Morocco to be Superman. A non celebrity, you queue at the Red Lobster, waiting for the besmotted table to be cleared while ahead of you in line a loud woman with an updo is blurting her grievances into a smartphone. Something smells like the funeral home you were in recently, and you suspect it’s her. You wish you were somewhere else, enjoying life more, but you stay put.

Celebrities solve world problems and live forever, in the way that they fly and defeat armies and save the human species from aliens. Yes they traffic in illusion, but we all do that. They have more, and more convincing, hair replacement options. Our non celebrity tricks are mostly low budget, small and uninspired. We tell the boss we can’t come in today and try to sound like someone with acute rhinitis. If we are found out, it doesn’t make the tabloids.

Sometimes the worlds of celebrities and non celebrities intersect. In 1987 I met Heather Locklear and Andy Gibb. They were filming a Coca-Cola commercial at the Crystal Beach amusement park, where I operated a ride called the Monster. They sat in the pod and I lifted the door into locked position. Andy Gibb was friendly and gracious and kind. They were both young and beautiful, as celebrities always are supposed to be.

It’s been years and I couldn’t remember which of the Gibb brothers it was. Andy, or Robin? I went to Wikipedia and found this: “I hear he spent most of his time in his hotel room in front of the TV. I guess he was frightened and insecure. … [Andy] was a very charming, vulnerable and charismatic performer. He wanted everyone to love him. He had so much going for him, and he just couldn’t believe it.”

Couldn’t believe that his cocaine habit had cost him his stage work, that his life and his career were collapsing. Less than a year after I met him, Andy Gibb was dead at 30.

Non celebrities have no Johnny Carson stories and you won’t find their memoir at the airport. They live in modest houses or rented flats and they never have parties with their accountant and shopclerk acquaintances. They go to the mall to buy lamps and large plastic tubs of Folgers. They search the Internet for people they dated in high school and for funny talk show clips. The celebrities entertain us and we need them. The celebrities need us. We get along because we are not that different.

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