Celebrity spotting can be fun, although you rarely see anyone you would actually like to see — it’s always a Hilton sister, never a Keanu Reeves. What I find curious is the discrepancy between the larger-than-life image and the decidedly life-size reality. Although once in a while there is no discrepancy, and it’s as if the person came strolling right out of the movie or TV screen, which makes for a genuinely startling experience. Harrison Ford was like this — there’s no moment of, Hey, that guy looks like Harrison Ford which slowly evolves into Wait a sec, is that Harrison Ford? Instead, the guy — who reminded me very oddly of my father — came out of a movie theatre in midtown Manhattan and people across the street were instantly shouting, “Hey, Harrison!” (He smiled a bit, ducked his head, and hurriedly got into the car as the driver held open the door for him.)
“I saw Jessica Alba today,” I mentioned to E as we sat at our his-and-her computers in our study.
“How did she look?”
“Good. But just another cute girl in Beverly Hills.”
“She wasn’t some modern-day goddess, sexiest woman to ever walk this planet?”
“Just a pretty girl in sunglasses talking to her boyfriend.” If I hadn’t recognized her, I wouldn’t have looked at her twice; and the only reason I glanced at her again was because I did recognize her, and had to compare the real-life Jessica in the sidewalk cafe to the siren song Jessica of the movies and Playboy cover. She must deal with this all the time, of course, and it must be annoying as hell, but hey. The price of fame.
Once I was waiting at a bar and idly scanning the crowd when a not-young woman came through the door nearest me and I literally could not stop staring; she wasn’t just the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, she was on a level that almost seemed otherworldly. As she passed by, recognition finally clicked — Oh, that’s Elle Macpherson — and for some reason I, as a woman, felt better. A beauty and presence that powerful would of course belong to one of the most famous supermodels of the day*, which points it up for the truly freakish thing that it is. When the light of reality loves you as much as any camera.
*When I was 17 I lived in Australia for a year and that woman was everywhere; you could not escape her; she was like Britney Spears before the decline.