FRESH YARN presents:

Star Make-Lover
By Cecily Knobler

I am not a star-fucker.

I consider myself a star-make-lover and if you'll allow me, I'd like the chance to explain. Actually, I think the best term for me, according to my friend Andy, is TALENT WHORE. Yes, I am unabashedly attracted to genius, which in my book is better than being into say, felons or mimes, like my friend Sheryl. Never have I pursued a man because of his success status and have even turned down some A-listers. For example, once in Mexico, Russell Crowe asked me to watch him pee and I respectfully declined. He then told me I'd rue the day, and truth be told, he was right. Point being, I did not watch the Gladiator urinate nor did I go back to his hotel with him. Okay, part of it was because I'd forgotten to shave my legs and I figured he wouldn't look too kindly on that.

Another reservation was that I didn't figure Mr. Crowe to be a "spooner" and having come off a bad break-up, I was really just looking to cuddle. Bottom line, there was no sex with the master OR the commander. Now I only mention this because I want you to understand my position on the difference between being a "back stage stalker dweller" and simply falling for the man behind the curtain.

It all started a few years ago. Let me set the scene. I'm at Amoeba Records with my friend Dave, growling because it's too crowded and smells like a mixture of patchouli and broken dreams. As I pick up the newest Flaming Lips record, I see from the corner of my eye, a well-known local musician whom I am not only a fan of, I've also had a crush on for quite some time, (let's call him Max.) Eye contact, smile, look away, ya know the usual. Dave, who is one aisle over sees this exchange and knowing who this guy is, winks at me. I shoot him a warning "Keep your mouth shut" glance but it's too late.

"Cec", he yells, looking at Max to make sure he's listening. "Here's that Michael Bolton CD you were looking for. Look, he cut his hair!"

"Ha ha ha, you moron. I was picking up this new Wilco album."

"You were not," he insists. "Dude, you told me you had three CDs to get. John Tesh's Christmas album, Mariah Carey's "Rainbow" and Michael Friggin Bolton."

"Dude, please stop."

Max looks disappointed and walks into the import section. I follow him and say, loudly, "I wonder where the new Interpol import is." He briefly looks up and smiles as I continue, "I just LOVE listening to my indie-rock, all alone, naked in my apartment on 4500 Spaulding Street, wherein I keep a spare key above the door."

It seems I've now confused Max. He picks up a handful of guitar picks and heads for the checkout. Meanwhile, Dave continues to hold up various CDs, while screaming, "Look! Finally, we found the best of Jefferson Starship. Oh, but you only have a cassette player, right? Let's see if we can't find it on tape."

"Shut the fuck up," I say, as Max quickly leaves the building.

Side note: I've always been a bit of a music snob. For example, in the fifth grade, I ended a friendship with Missy Dosher because she insisted that Oates was the more talented of the Hall and Oates duo. I wasn't especially a fan of either, I had told her, but at least Darryl Hall had collaborated with geniuses such as Elvis Costello. She'd looked at me, her Texas green eyes sparkling with such earnest resolve and said, "I don't know who this Elvis whatever guy is, but Oates sure does have a sexy mustache!" I remember having that inexplicable feeling that one gets when they fear danger, but aren't sure why. I slowly grabbed my Mork and Mindy lunchbox and said in a low raspy voice, "Missy, you are dead to me."

Okay, so flash forward from Amoeba to six months ago. I'm at a local hep cat pub where enormously talented singer/songwriter types play their bittersweet ballads in that way that you think they're singing JUST TO YOU. You know how rock stars do that; they look out into the audience and they're really just seeing a blinding white light but they move their eyes around and get all soulful and you think, "Bono means me. He says he can't live with or without ME!" And then, normally you get upset because you start to wonder, "Why does Bono say he can't live WITH me? He doesn't even KNOW me. Whatever, he probably supports the IRA or something."

But Max does NOT support the IRA. And as I watch him take the stage, his black guitar strung for perfect pitch, his wide-set green eyes slowing my oxygen intake, I realize that he CAN live without me and this is crushing. Even more bitter than sweet, he sings about his tendency to "fall for it every time," meaning that he's been tricked into love. I think to myself, "You're preaching to the choir, buddy."

So Max finishes singing just to me. I wipe my eyes, pay my tab and as I'm walking out with my friend Jen, there he is, standing by the door of the pub. I walk by and say "great show." He grabs my arm and says, "Could I please get your phone number?" Oh. My. Can't breathe. Nor can I remember my phone number but Jen quickly writes it down and hands it to him. Sweet Jesus, he WAS singing to me.

Now a bit of background here. Max is what some might call an "eccentric." He wears ironic velvet green coats in the summer, he occasionally "frosts" his hair, he collects all kinds of weird instruments and has dated a lot of brilliantly talented and peculiar actresses and musician-types. He drives a 1974 Pinto, just for fun. Got it? Okay, so let's skip ahead a week when Max calls. To be honest, I'm surprised he even has a phone. He seems like the type who would use a Morse code telegraph machine because that's more "alternative."

He asks me out for that night and of course, I say, "Sure, I'd love to." Wait, whose voice did I just use? It seemed, I don't know, higher? "I'm totally down for anything." Why had I adopted a ditsy Midwest meets the Valley accent? I sounded like Victoria Jackson. So Max says he'll be there in two hours and oh shit, what do you wear with a talented eccentric musician? Oh fuck, I've gotta hide the bootlegs of his songs I got in London. Oh Jesus, I've got to hide all of my Jewel albums. Yes, Jewel. Some music snob I turned out to be. I start yanking stuff from my collection, no Ani Difranco, he'll think I'm bisexual. Wait, he'd like that, I put the Ani Difranco back. No Pink or good God, no Kelly Clarkson. I shove the CDs under my bed and find the most "thrift store" looking outfit I can muster.

So, we're at dinner and I'm so nervous I keep ordering shots of Patron. He doesn't seem to mind. He says something about how string theory can be exemplified through basic guitar chords. I, trying to sound weird and like I "get it" say "yeah, and so can quarks." What? The conversation takes another lull. I then say something really odd like, "I'm just so over America." He asks why and I can't articulate it, probably because I don't know what that means and if I did, probably wouldn't mean it. He drives me home and I invite him up for a night cap, (mind you, no sex, I'm not that kind of star-make-lover). He comes in and I say, "So this is my pad," like it's 1972. He and I are both surprised by this voice I'm using, but then things get REALLY weird. I start to pretend like I don't know exactly what he does for a living. I say, "So you're, like, what a musician?" He says, "Uh, yeah, you have my CD on the coffee table." Shit, forgot to hide that one. "Well I just didn't know you did it full-time." He says, "But you have a schedule for all of my shows on your fridge?" All I can think to say for this one is, "Do I?"

He starts to kiss me. Having someone's lips on yours makes their illegal bootlegs seem less exciting. But I can't relax because I can't help but think I'm kissing him too normally. Too pedestrian. I am not an unusual kisser. Fuck. Why can't I kiss him more alternatively? He senses my fear and pulls back a bit. "You alright?" he asks and I realize, I'm TOO alright. I thought I was edgy and strange before meeting Max, but at this point, I see that I will never be strange enough which will ironically make us strangers. There is an uncomfortable silence and after searching my brain for ANYTHING to say, all I bring is "I really think Fantasia is gonna win American Idol."

After all that work to seem offbeat, I blew my cover. I buried the lead. He says something to the effect of, "Yeah, I don't even own a TV" and my heart dies. Seriously, when a guy says, "I don't own a TV", he may has well have said, "I'm gay" or, "I hate the Jews." Any of those statements normally mean, "This probably won't work out romantically." But it's him; it's Max and so I say, "Yeah, I hardly ever watch it either." As I say this, I notice him staring at my Tivo, which at that very moment is recording a late-night showing of Judge Judy. Yes, Judge Judy. Is that alternative? I don't even know anymore. He says, "Hmm, well I should probably get going. This was fun, let's do it again sometime. I'll call you."

He never did call. The next time I saw Max, he was hitting on some girl with dyed green hair and a Partridge Family lunchbox. I still get giddy at the thought of him and his lovely music, although now when I listen to those bootlegs from England, I know how he tastes and it changes every note.

I suppose he and my fake "Victoria Jackson" persona just weren't meant to be. Thank God, I've got Judge Judy on Tivo.

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