By Scott Keneally
after moving to Los Angeles, I lucked into a freelance writing job
that put me within putting distance of rock stars. I collaborated
with a music video director, brainstorming for storylines and visuals
to go with songs. If the bands liked my two or three page treatment
and our vision for the song, they hired my director to shoot the
video. While my name never appeared onscreen even if the video was
entirely my concept, I enjoyed the fringe benefits of the job. I
was allowed to loiter on set and mingle with the artists. And as
a creative partner in the video, I had a legitimate excuse to talk
to some major stars like Jessica Simpson and Madonna. However, I
craved more than behind-the-scenes recognition.
with the publication of my bedwetting story in JANE Magazine,
I snagged a small sum of fame. My picture and saga appeared in three-quarters
of a million magazines with Angelina Jolie on the cover. I imagined
that if I ever bumped into her, I could easily strike up a conversation
about that issue. And just in case she had missed my piece, I always
had a copy handy.
the magazine was still on newsstands, I hoped it could double as
a temporary membership pass into the inner celebrity circle. My
first chance to test this theory came when I saw Elijah Wood waiting
for my Jet Blue flight to New York. "Hey, I really love your
work," I said, fumbling for some connector into my work.
"Say, did you ever see this magazine?"
I read it all the time," he said.
to my article, I said, "Here's a story I published this month.
Maybe you can kill
some time on the plane."
looked at the page, up to me, and back down to the page. "It's
you," he said, flashing his gap toothed smile. "I already
read this and it was brilliant."
were the odds? Feigning modesty, I looked away to make sure everybody
even asked me to sign the magazine for him. Frodo wanted my
autograph. I felt a Magic Fingers tingling sensation race through
the length of my body. I imagined that feeling was the norm among
the Hollywood elite.
the photo of a wet bed that dwarfed my thumbnail picture, I wrote,
"Aren't you glad you never slept here?" with an arrow
pointing to the soaked sheets.
him another copy to sign for me. "By the way, will you jot
down an email address or some way to get in touch?" I asked,
clearly pushing my luck.
I suggested, "Next time you're in town maybe we can hang out.
I have a great spot in Venice." I was thinking about the snowballing
social effects that drawing a star like Elijah Wood to a party might
he asked what other kinds of stories I wrote, I happily segued into
my freelance writing career. Since he was a fan of music videos
our conversation cascaded freely. When our flight boarded an hour
later, I said I'd email him sometime. I waited a few days and dropped
him a note:
Greetings from a Bedwetter!
It was cool bumping into you. If you get a chance, check out the
new A Perfect Circle video I wrote. I'll catch you later,
I would catch him much later, as I am still waiting for his
response. I wasn't bummed out though, as I knew there would be other
encounters and opportunities to befriend the rich and famous.
afternoon while shopping at Wild Oats, a familiar looking, tall,
lanky man sporting a Yankees cap walked by me. After a triple take,
I realized it was Kramer from Seinfeld. He was nearly incognito
in the baseball cap, but it was definitely him.
to run back home and grab a copy of my magazine. Who knows what
could happen from there? I weighed my fantasies against the reality
that he'd only be in the store for a few minutes and decided not
a huge fan of Seinfeld, I figured I'd have lots to talk with
him about. While Kramer milled around the produce section, I remembered
the episode where on principle he refused to buy fruit from a grocery
store because it wasn't fresh enough. Later, he was banned from
his favorite fruit stand for complaining that his mango was not
ripe. Jerry was coerced into doing Kramer's fruit shopping, until
he too was banned when the fruit guy realized what was going on.
now, as Kramer shoved three mangos into a bag, I had the perfect
icebreaker. So, are your mangos ripe? I thought to ask. But,
that just didn't feel right. I decided to wait for another moment
to chime in with something that would make his eyes pop open, his
arms flail, and his body rattle in vintage Kramer fashion.
an experienced sleuth, I covertly followed him throughout the store,
always one aisle away, peering between boxes of spaghetti or jars
of mayonnaise. When he stopped in front of the soup station, I moved
in. Standing next to him, I stared at the two cauldrons of soup
du jour, pretending I was trying to figure out which one I wanted.
Kramer's elbow was just inches from mine.
flashed back to the Seinfeld episode with the "Soup
Nazi," who banned Elaine from the store for a year because
of an ordering error. The Soup Nazi yelled, "No soup for you!"
He did this to any of the customers that screwed up an order. Standing
in front of the vats of soup with Kramer was just too perfect an
opportunity to pass up. I was glad I had waited for this moment
since two different one-liners in two different sections of the
grocery store might have been considered stalking.
it Scott, just say it. No soup for you!
nerves were frayed as Kramer kept glancing over at me. He had a
curious look on his face, as if he were going to talk to
me. I was half expecting Kramer to nudge me and drop the
an awkward silence, Kramer finally spoke.
you don't work here," he mumbled.
I said, grasping for the hidden meaning in his words.
was going to ask you what the unlabeled soup was, but you probably
don't work here."
that was it. I was too stunned to recover. My total part of the
conversation amounted to, "Huh?" And as he walked away,
the helium fizzled out of my ego like air through a pinched balloon.
No sitcom screenwriting fame. No late-night bar crawls with Kramer.
Just a painfully shy Michael Richards mistaking me for a grocery
I called Kelly collect from a payphone outside the store. Her excitement
glorified the flimsy moment for me, "No way! Well, at least
he talked to you!" Kelly reinvigorated my unyielding desire
to tell everybody about the encounter.
night last month, I had the opportunity to share my Kramer story.
I was flipping through channels while babysitting my senile grandmother.
Gram can barely remember what she's chewing at dinner, let alone
have any idea who the hell Kramer is. That didn't deter me.
did you ever see this show Seinfeld? See that guy right there
with the funny hair? Kramer? Well, he just talked to me last week
at the grocery store."
she mumbled, with enough enthusiasm to muster up one more heartbeat.
It was exactly the response I had expected, but it still felt great
to tell my story.
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