Prentending Not To Notice

(photo Tony Shek used under CC)

Yesterday I was with my writing partner Douglas. We were directed to park by the attendant and I see a girl sorta blocking the space, and as he slowly pulls into the space, the girl moves out of the way and is waiting calmly for the driver of the SUV she apparently exited.

“That’s Dakota Fanning,” I say.

Douglas drives a little more carefully. He pulls in right behind the SUV and Dakota is within two feet of him. I pretend not to notice, trying not to smile. Douglas drops his keys when he gets out of his car, he’s obviously flustered. But he too pretends like he always drops his keys.

When we finally enter a DFZ (Dakota Free Zone). We laugh and talk about how we just made a Dakota joke and how she’d be pissed at us (as if she constantly monitors the webernet for obscure mentions in podcasts).

It’s interesting to me that we Angelinos feel compelled to feign ignorance of celebrity. It’s the only thing that separates a local from a tourist. That and knowing to take Fountain. This sort of self-restraint, our version of the British stiff upper lip is a trademark of our own local pride. These celebs are just people, if I treat them like they’re just like me, they will treat me like I’m just like them. Or at least that’s the fantasy.

Any stories of you pretending to ignore famous people?

34 thoughts on “Prentending Not To Notice”

  1. This is so right on. The other extreme of this is when you see a celeb but for whatever reason you recognize them, but not as a celebrity, just as someone who looks more familiar than everyone else in the room.

    One time I walked into Starbucks on Larchmont got inline behind some random guy. He turned around to look at me (to see who just got inline behind him I ‘spose) and I instantly recognized this guy but didn’t know why, but my coffee deprived brain told me this was someone I knew. So trying to be nice, as this person might have been a friend of a friend or a client from the gallery, I blurted out a “hey man, hows it going?” kind of hello. He just looked at me. Made a half smile, nodded, then turned around clearly a bit uncomfortable. Then it hit me, this wasn’t a friend of a friend, this was Jason Alexander. I’d totally just broken the “ignore all celebrities” rule and now had to stand next to him for 5-7 very uncomfortable minutes while my iced vanilla soy latte was being skillfully prepared by the barista who probably saw the whole thing and knew what a jerk I’d been. She probably spit in my drink, and I probably deserved it.

  2. when i worked at a record store on the west side i helped kurt fuller find some music for a gift for someone or another. I had to stop myself repeatedly from blurting out “YOU WERE RUSSELL IN WAYNE’S WORLD!” or quoting lines said to him in the movie. maybe that’s obscure, but c’mon! it was wayne’s world!

    of course the days that benicio del toro came in totally wasted or the day that coolio came in shooting an MTV reality show were both exciting as well.

  3. Hey! You should have totally come over and said hi to me. I always say that if a person is lucky enough to have a fan the least they can do is be nice to them.

    Oh and don’t worry about that joke. I’m not one of these cleberites with no sesne of humor. I can totally laugh at myself. To be honest with you I wasn’t really laughing but that’s more because that ninja guy is really annoying. I mean talk about a lack of direction in your comedy. What’s his point? That ninjas talk fast and over emphasizs certain words? Lame! But I thought the joke itself was really funny! You’re right I do kind of act a little older than my age sometimes. I guess I’m not exactly a kid LOL!

    So next time you see me say Hi!

  4. My brother RP, fourteen months my junior, and I were out one night. I don’t remember why or where we had been, but I believe it was a Saturday night in the fall and I was hungry. I think I remember asking him if he wanted some dinner and he said yes. This was one of the brothers that use to slice holes in my pillow cases at night to get to the money in my wallet whilst I was sleeping back when I was still living at home. So why we were even out together, I don’t remember. Just know that it was a rare thing indeed.

    We were eastbound on Richmond Avenue near the 610 loop in Houston. It was a very nice part of town. A lot of the upper middle class kids partied at the Roxy nearby and it was an area where the rich kids would go slumming some of the time. I pulled into a large parking lot and headed for TGIF. This was back in the late seventies, early eighties, before the chain TGI Friday’s was popular. This may in fact have been the first one that all the others came from. In any event, I park, we walk in through the door, a nice hostess sits us in a very nice alcove with a little too much lace in the front part of the restaurant. I take the seat in the back of the alcove and RP sits on my left. The front windows are behind me and to my right. The rest of the establishment is off to the left of my brother. A good angle to see what was going on, except for this hallway like partition that separated us from the rest of the place. We ordered some appetizer after our waiter ran down the specials and gave us menus to look for entrees. It was a busy night there and we were lucky to get seated so quickly. We choose and the waiter runs off happily. A few minutes later, nearly half a dozen waiters begin moving two other tables adjacent to ours out into the hallway. I cock my head and look at our waiter who comes over and explains that a special party is arriving and we’ll understand, won’t we? I just sit back and raise my eyebrows as he is clearing our appetizer away and scurrying off with the other waiters. Just after he brings our entrees in, a party of seven or eight is seated with us. Dudes twice our age with big hair and girls our age in silver dresses of leaves sit down and order drinks. Well the guys standing around with the clipboards ordered everything, the scowling party that they were attending too said nothing. My brother and I continue eating, occasionally staring at this crew, when one of the girls notices my brother pulling out a cigarette and walks over between us to ask him for a light. He says sure, lights it for her and asks her with his eyes who are you people. She points to the dude with the large curls down his back and said that’s Freddy. Oh, my god. Freddy Mercury and the band Queen and their entourage are sitting at the same table as my brother and I. I had just seen them last year at the Houston Summit with some friends from college and never expected to see them again, let alone eating together in the same alcove. This whole six degrees of separation thing is starting to make sense. I am thinking of ordering cheesecake for dessert, but our waiter is not around. We wait. My brother smokes a second cigarette. We wait some more. No waiter for us to be found. When he finally does come by with the check, I’m boiling on the inside. I hate being ignored for so long. Ignored for twenty minutes maybe, but this was twice that long. Never did order dessert, just accepted the check and continued to sit there as the other party at our table was full swing into their meal. I asked my brother if he was ready to leave. He said ‘sure’ and watched me put the check in my shirt pocket. I got up, he got up. The party with us barely noticed. The waiters were nowhere to be seen. We scoot around the left part of the alcove, nod to Freddy and the band who look up, but don’t say anything to us, continue down the hall to the front door, smile at the hostess and walk quickly to the car. I was both mad and glad at the same time. Mad that we were so ignored and glad to see aging rock and rollers slowly chow down their meal, very un-interested in the cute girls in the short silver dresses of leaves hanging around them. So that’s the story of the only check that I have ever walked.

  5. During my short stint as a barista at the Coffee Bean along Main Street in Santa Monica, Jean Claude Van Damme used to come in all the time.

    I also served jury duty the same time as Ray Liotta.

  6. OMG. I just saw Dog The Bounty Hunter at Toys R Us in Culver City last Saturday. I practically fell on the floor laughing.

  7. Flavor Flav was in town to do some classic PE joints at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA. I saw him go into the joint across the street before the show and scoop up a large fries. When he was coolin’ outside the venue, I walked over and asked him to break me off a few french fries and he did without hesitation. Fear of a Black Planet? Nah, bruh. Flav hit me off with fries :)

  8. I was standing in line at my bank many years ago and who was in line behind me? Martin Sheen. I ignored him, of course, cuz we were a bank line with other people.

  9. I have to pretend to ignore famous people often because they come into my work place often, but I guess my favorite was Sanjaya, because he obviosuly didn’t want to be ignored – attention whore.

    “That and knowing to take Fountain.”- so true!

  10. I don’t see how saying, “hey man, hows it going?” to anyone makes you a jerk. If you’d made the same eye contact with any other stranger you probaby would have said the same thing.

    Besides, they’re all big attention whores anyway or they’d all be working in a bank in their hometowns. I don’t usually talk to them but I don’t pretend I don’t see them either. And when there’s one I want to talk to, I always say hello. So far I haven’t been punched in the face.

    Who wouldn’t appreciate a kind word?

  11. I was in the Baja Fresh on Sunset and Vine recently, and Zachary Quinto (Sylar) from Heroes was there. He looked totally normal and like he’d be open to a hello, and I found myself wondering if people were giving him space because Sylar had just been creepy that week. I wonder if villians get less hellos than heroes.

  12. If that’s what separates a local from a tourist then I know I’m making the right decision to move to LA this summer because all the times that I’ve run into a celebrity while on vacation in LA I acted as if I hang out with celebrities all the freaking time. I did such a good job of ignoring Brandy in a women’s bathroom that the girl actually started singing. My friend still contends that as an artist/singer, she probably does that all the time without noticing that she’s doing it, but I don’t know. The fact that she was looking right at me while she did it makes me think maybe she wanted a little attention. That was years ago and she was still so young. Who knows really.

  13. LOL PRoto tells a long story, nothing like dating ourselves…Freddy died in 1991. A friend and I were stuck in traffic near sunset and horn when a limo drove by followed by a bunch of girls yelling “Bono”, and it wasn’t Sunny but the other one. My closest run in with a rock star…that was a bajillion years ago when I still had a pinto and didn’t live here yet. Then we had Jane Wiedlin who used to shop the Bullock’s I worked at all the time in TO..but never in my dept so I can’t call that a close encounter.

    I used to see stars all the time at my Ralph’s store and the Wherehouse movie rental at Laurel and the Boulevard back in the day when I was a valley dweller. If stalking is your desire that may be a place to start.

    Still no answer to my question who is dakota fanning, but thats ok. honest.

  14. Probably my biggest celeb encounter was Diana Ross at Urth Cafe on Melrose. She was picking up some to-go food and the woman in front of me pointed her out with a whisper. Of course I wasn’t going to be OMG, but it was sort of hushed reverence for someone who is such an international icon.

  15. Vince Vaughan and his trainer often walk up my street in the evening. Once they walked by when I was getting a delivery and the driver was gawking, saying, “I know that guy! I know him! What movie is he in?” but I just said I didn’t know and tipped him and he drove away–but I felt so bad about blowing him off and pretending I didn’t know who it was that I called his place of work and told him it was Vince Vaughan. And he was glad. But I still feel like I should have jumped up and down and said: “It’s Vince Vaughan! Yes! On my street! And you’re here too! Isn’t it wonderful?!!!!” Because that’s what we do inside the house every time he walks by. And BTW, VV is not an attention pig and is kind to animals.

  16. Frazgo: I’m not sure if you are pulling our collective chain…seriously? You don’t know who Dakota Fanning is? I can be gullible, so I’ll admit that and answer: Starred most recently in Charlotte’s Web, War of the Worlds, Man on Fire, I Am Sam and I even saw her on a rerun of CSI a while back. She’s 13 and very much sought after for parts. And seems, dare I say it, “normal.”

  17. My personal favorite is the time I stood next to Harvey Keitel at LAX baggage claim, avoiding looking at him and thinking, “I’ve seen your penis. I’ve seen your penis. I’ve seen your penis.” I’m sure I was eight shades of red.

  18. I work in a restaurant that gets frequented by a lot of celebs, so, after eight years, I’ve got plenty of stories.

    The most SURREAL moment was when I brought a birthday cake out from the Kitchen and realized I was singing “Happy Birthday to You” to Eric Estrada.

    Not the biggest star, but easily the trippiest moment.

  19. Julia, I googled her and find out she was the kid in War of the Worlds, the rest of her filmography is stuff I haven’t seen. I was gobsmacked to find out she’s in a movie filmed here in good old Monrovia.
    I discovered is that she is the cute blond kid I saw on a set next to my youngests school. I blogged it at

    I am so obtuse when it comes to stars its laughable. I guess I should go back to watching TV and reading People who knows what else I have missed.

  20. Frazgo: Just for the record, I work in “the biz” and am also a HUGE movie fan/buff/insert proper adjective here. (But I have never worked downtown keeping Dave Bullock on his toes…) I have enough of an ego to tell you that so that you don’t think I read People or any of those other inane magazines.

    (See? I’m a snob.)

  21. I helped Pierce Brosnan find a book when he was in the UCLA bookstore once. This was a few years ago, back when he was still Bond. I’m not a huge Bond fan, but I obviously knew who he was. I took him to the section, trying to find the Guy de Maupassant book he was looking for, when some girls came up and asked him for an autograph…on a dollar bill. He was obviously annoyed, but obliged them, but the whole time was talking to me about how wonderful de Maupassant was.

    He was very nice, which made me feel even worse when he tried to pay with American Express. I told James Bond we couldn’t accept his credit card. So his wife paid.

    Others I met/saw working in UCLA Bookzone: The Edge, Richard Riordan, Michael Eisner (sweaty from a jog), Michelle Kwan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, and Master P. I also met Ben Stiller when he was at UCLA for a lunchtime conversation. It was in the giant Ackerman Grand Ballroom, and there were about 20 people that showed up. I felt really embarrassed for him, and he tried not to look disappointed with the turnout. During the Q & A, he said “I’ve got a movie coming out this summer, called There’s Something About Mary,” so obviously I don’t think he’s lost much sleep about the event since.

    Celebrity encounter that left me slightly embarrassed: Alanis Morrisette. She was just standing in the doorway to the Improv Olympic West in Hollywood, so I said “excuse me” in an obviously annoyed tone. She turned around, and I saw it was her. She was tiny.

  22. Gosh, lots, having lived here almost all my life. But maybe the most recent was an encounter with “The Girls Next Door” when they were rehearsing in our building for their exercise video. I gave them SG undies. :-)

  23. Well, I looked in the mirror this morning and was disappointed to see that there was no celeb in sight. So much for LA dreams!!!

    The only celebs I’ve met that I recognized at all were Salma Hayek (extremely recognizable and beautiful), Dan Aykroyd (very cool, HOB Sunset) and Eva Longoria (great dancer).

  24. I used to work for a business manager, and one of our clients was a personal trainer to the stars. Every week I would have to go over to his house to drop of checks to be signed. He had his gym built in the back house and every time I would come over there would be celebrities working out in the drive way. Eve, Rick Fox, Ben Foster…I swear every time I came by, Rick Fox was jumping rope in the drive way (I’m a big Lakers fan so this always excited me). It was so hard for me not to stare and to keep my mouth shout…

  25. I used to work for a business manager, and one of our clients was a personal trainer to the stars. Every week I would have to go over to his house to drop of checks to be signed. He had his gym built in the back house and every time I would come over there would be celebrities working out in the drive way. Eve, Rick Fox, Ben Foster…I swear every time I came by, Rick Fox was jumping rope in the drive way (I’m a big Lakers fan so this always excited me). It was so hard for me not to stare and to keep my mouth shout…

  26. I used to work for a business manager, and one of our clients was a personal trainer to the stars. Every week I would have to go over to his house to drop of checks to be signed. He had his gym built in the back house and every time I would come over there would be celebrities working out in the drive way. Eve, Rick Fox, Ben Foster…I swear every time I came by, Rick Fox was jumping rope in the drive way (I’m a big Lakers fan so this always excited me). It was so hard for me not to stare and to keep my mouth shout…

  27. Thx Julia, didn’t need to clarify. We all have our obsessions, good to see you have one that won’t cause you to end up in the slammer

  28. Years ago, I ran ice cream stores in ritzy areas and met so many celebrities I can’t remember them all. My crew and I followed a strict protocol: Never make a fuss, use eye contact to signal your recognition and, if wished, quietly acknowledge appreciation of their work, using “Mr.” or “Ms.” with their last name. It worked like a charm in creating connections–and even friendships.

  29. Book Soup reportedly keeps (or kept…I heard this from a well-placed source years back) a rant book for encounters with snobby celebrities.

  30. LA funny sighting, seeing Rob Schneider in a Pasadena bookstore. I just started laughing to myself because he was wearing a weather inappropriate furry hood.

    NYC weird encounter, Kim Gordon, after a solo show at tonic (R.I.P.) (for SYR 4 or 5 the one with her, Ikue Mori, and DJ Olive), she approached me and said “what are you doing here?” “umm oh my god your work has been so positively influential on my life and wow thanks…” “thank you (silence)” “bye” “bye” It went something like that. I don’t know if she thought I was someone else, or if she was just trying to bug me out. It was cool though.

    I sort of ran into her again backstage at this past coachella… she didn’t recognize me. :-)

  31. I work at CAA, so there are more than a couple celebs that come in here. While I personally think it’s tacky to run out and see who is in the lobby, there are more than enough people who will announce who is here and everyone goes running to see.

  32. i seen kevin federline at bed bath & beyond in canoga park just after christmas. people actually recognised him. it was surreal.

  33. when I worked at coffee bean in studio city I spotted quite a few people including sandra bernhardt, zach braf, some other people I can’t remember. I also helped ashton kutcher and demi moore. I treated all of them as regular peoples, especially when a certian couple wouldn’t stop talking to let me take their order.

    now that I’m working in silver lake it’s been lots of actors from tv and musicians.

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