For one of last week’s summer blog posts I took the train under the river to Carroll Gardens one afternoon for a tour of Smith Street. I’d been before, but never with a solid three-hour block of time to stroll freely and stop as I pleased. Smith Street is Hoboken’s Washington, Williamsburg’s Bedford, the main drag, the happening place. So with a map in hand, I walked along from point A to B, surveying the cafes and boutiques where I spied some designer duds I wished were hanging in my closet rather than hanging on a mannequin on the other side of shatter-proof glass of the store window. But being that the distance from A to B was less than a mile in length, in a matter of twenty minutes (thanks to having no money to spend, nor anyone to share a late lunch with) I was ready to turn around and go back to Manhattan, my home borough to which I admit, I’m a little addicted.
While I headed South on Smith Street towards the train I spotted a tall, skinny hipster approaching me with a look of odd excitement on his face, one that was notably strange for a pretty regular looking dude on a mid-day walk. Yeah, ok, whatever, I thought as with his quick stride he grew nearer. I kept in my forward direction until we were about a sidewalk paver’s distance away from one another when he flashed a grin the entire width of his face. “Julia Roberts is over there,” he whispered, gleefully yet unobtrusively, as if spilling an FBI-grade secret. I looked back with an equally giddy smile and wide eyes and asked, “where?” He didn’t slow his pace a bit but rather, replied mid-step with a “back there,” and an arm pointed in the general vicinity of where she, Ms. Roberts was. Yes, obviously it was there, where the black curtain was blocking off the vacant restaurant’s façade and film equipment trucks were lined up as part of whatever effort was taking place.
I’ve seen a good deal of celebrities throughout my tenure in New York, and though I don’t take that silly pleasure for granted, in truth, it’s become commonplace. The other day I was grocery shopping alongside Jean Reno (that guy from The Professional with Natalie Portman); I recently walked passed Willem Dafoe in the village, and one night passed Reese Witherspoon leaving my neighborhood deli. (Ok, I admit, I almost fainted on that occasion!) Jerry Seinfeld cruised past me in his Porsche once, and before she passed away, I once saw Carolyn Bessette Kennedy in a shop. She was beautiful. My closest celebrity relationship however is with Famke Janssen who lives around the block from me and is always either bike riding or walking her dog. Our run-ins are so regular I feel like we should be waving and exchanging hellos by now. But like I said, it’s commonplace. I see these people in there everyday lives and remember they’re just like us—ish.
Ok, Back to Smith Street… Well as ready as I was to skip town in favor of my own beloved neighborhood, with this new morsel of information there was no way I was leaving just yet. I mean this is Julia Roberts we’re talking about. Mystic Pizza, Steel Magnolias, Pretty Woman. She’s not my favorite actress, but she is a living legend. A goddess. Named one of the most powerful women in America and a ‘most-beautiful person’ eleven times. She’s something if she’s got even got hipster Brooklyn dudes weak in the knees.
So I continued to pace—back and forth along Smith Street, down the block and over to Court Street, and back again, watching the minutes pass in hopes that I might perfectly coordinate an ‘accidental’ run-in during which I would throw all pride aside and humbly ask, “Excuse me Julia…could I get a picture with you?” I would. I’d be a complete dork for a moment, like me in my grade-school years where pages of Bop magazine decorated my walls and I truly believed Balthazar Getty would one day be my boyfriend. I’d break the golden rule of celebrity etiquette that it takes knowing, to be qualified as a true New Yorker, and I’d ask her for a photo. Assuming she’d agree, I’d then sprint home to upload my newly prized image and boast to the world, my star-studded afternoon.
It didn’t so much end that way. After a half a dozen walk-bys and the guys at the equipment truck beginning to give me looks like, “Come on lady” I decided it was time to surrender. Even if I don’t have the picture, I can add to my archive of New York stories that one day I was just down the block from Julia Roberts filming a movie. When I go the see it (the film adaptation of Eat, Pray Love) on the big screen I can chant to myself , “I was there! I was there!”. In the end it’s probably better this way. Looking back I suppose I should feel relieved that I didn’t make a complete fool of myself. If I ever get the chance again, instead of gushing, I’ll play it cool and say something like, “Oh hey Jewels. S’up?”