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Friday, September 2, 2011

Eating Out (With) Celebrities

I don't think I'd do real well at a celebrity lunch.

This, of course, is just mere speculation.  I really can't say for sure, because I've never dined with a celebrity.  Once, I ate dinner at a small, swish restaurant in Westchester County and Stanley Tucci was eating with a stunningly attractive woman two tables over.  I was with my ex-girlfriend, her parents, and two elderly Italian men.  I had no idea who they were, all Catherine said was that they were "friends of the family" which I took to mean "mobsters."  They were a Laurel and Hardy team from the old country-- one was rail thin and easily eighty years old, the other one looked like a water buffalo shoved into a pair of shimmery slacks and a dress shirt with the first four buttons undone, to show off his broccoli-like chest hair plumes and several gold-hued medallions.  They drank grappa and ate ossobuco all night and spoke Italian to each other.  With Stanley Tucci at what was basically an arm's length the entire time, it was hard to fathom that I was not unwittingly cast in a movie.

In fact, to this day, I'll occasionally IMDB myself, just to make sure I wasn't.  Of course, I could be listed as "Uncredited," so maybe we'll just never know.

Anyway, I got to thinking about celebrity lunches recently because 88.5-XPN, the University of Pennsylvania radio station is holding some contest and one of the main prizes is a meal with indie musician Amos Lee.  Now, I kind of like Amos Lee.  While I think his voice sounds like Ben Harper and David Gray and Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson and all those other assholes, I still like his music.

Kind of.

Now, I don't like him nearly enough to want to enter some gay-ass (sorry, gays) contest for the sole, express purpose of having an awkward lunch with him.  I don't need a contest for that-- I can have an awkward lunch with anybody, any day, any time I want.  In fact, I can have an awkward lunch, even when I don't want one.  Whether I'm with somebody or whether I'm by myself, lunch is awkward.  As Charlie Brown says in that fucking monologue I can't stand: "I think lunchtime is the worst time of all."

No shit, you bald, hydrocephalic motherfucker.

I was joking with a friend of mine once a long time ago when he moved into a new apartment.  I asked him if he'd installed the mirrors on his bedroom ceiling yet and he, ever the self-deprecator, said, "I can't think of a bigger turn-off than watching myself have sex."

That's kind of how I feel about the idea of having lunch with a celebrity.  Let's just forget, for a moment, the exceeding likelihood of me vomiting on him or her-- because the anxiety that these thoughts provoke simply go without saying.  Let's just address the mere fact that I would have to eat in front of this person.  Now, it takes me weeks, sometimes months, to get comfortable enough around another person to ingest food in front of them.  This is what is known in professional circles as "fuckedupedness."  I have anxiety about every part of eating in front of someone.

They're going to judge...

What table I choose to sit at

That I'll make a fuss if it's not a booth, or if it's too close to other patrons

How I sit at the table

Where I put my napkin

How much meat is in what I order

How expensive my meal is

How I use my utensils

How I chew

Whether stuff comes out of my mouth while I talk and eat

If I choke

If I get stuff on my shirt or trousers

If I get stuff in my teeth

If I show my teeth too much

How I cross my utensils like a British prep-school student from the 1950s to indicate that I'm done

The sort of tip I leave

Whether I pay with cash or debit

How many times I get up to use the bathroom because I can't stand the awkwardness

The awkwardness of my conversation/my behavior

And, of course, even if I could get past all that, I don't think I would be able to get past the ridiculousness over the artifice of the situation: here I am with a celebrity who is being paid to eat with me, someone he/she doesn't know or care about, someone with whom there will be superficial, stilted, worse-than-first-date-with-a-nun-or-a-platypus conversation, and no contact ever thereafter, a celebrity who probably wants nothing more than to insert the fork into his/her own eye for ever agreeing to participate in this dumbfuck misadventure in the first place.

See?  I'd be way too consumed with guilt and empathy for the celebrity's position to enjoy my basted chicken or bison-tits or ossobuco or whatever I'd get.  I know someone who entered to win a lunch with Tim Gunn.  If I won that, I'd probably shoot myself.

I certainly wouldn't make it work.

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