Angelina Jolie & Me
The Day I Met Angelina
Everyone has a story about a celebrity encounter. I have several myself; some are funny, some are dull and a few would just make you want to smack someone. The one that sticks with me most--and I think about it quite a lot--is the day I met Angelina Jolie. Every time I see a picture of her or see one of her movies, I think of this story.
It was 1995 in New York City. Angelina Jolie was not yet famous. Her first film, "Hackers" had just come out (It was a flop, sadly) and she was still able to walk around without being mobbed. She was already gorgeous and men ogled her but she didn't need bodyguards. She was 20 years old at the time (I researched that) and I was 30. I was working on the upper west side of Manhattan at the time, in a very tedious job.
It was a chilly but comfortable fall afternoon and I had stepped outside for some fresh air during lunch. I was leaning against the wall, feeling bored. And then I saw her! She was dressed very casually, in a coat that seemed rather well-worn. She walked past me and I was awestruck the minute I saw her. I was taken totally off guard by her beauty. My eyes widened like Frisbees and my jaw dropped to my navel. I may even have gasped.
I wasn't the only guy checking her out. She was obviously used to having male eyes fixed upon her because she was blasé about the whistles and crude remarks. (Not from me, by the way.) I just stared. As she passed me, she glanced over at me and there was a moment of eye contact, but she kept going. I watched her walked away, and my head was still reeling from the vision I had just seen. I kept watching her until she went into the grocery on the corner.
Let me say that I was a very shy guy back then. (And to a lesser extent, I still am now). I'm not the type to pick up girls in the street. But something in my brain short circuited when I saw her and before I realized it, I was walking toward the store. I had no idea what I was going to do or say once I got there, but I just had to go after her.
I went into the grocery store and spotted her at the salad bar. I began to walk toward her, filled with terror because I was so intimidated by her. As I got closer, my natural cowardice regarding women overcame me and I hesitated. Now that I was close, what was I going to say to a girl who'd probably heard every line ever thought up?
She glanced in my direction and clearly noticed me standing there, staring at her. Some girls might have been annoyed that some guy had followed her into a store, but she seemed to be surpressing a grin of amusment at my hesitation. She just went ahead with what she was doing, putting salad into one of those plastic containers they have in supermarkets. I tried to force myself to be brave.
I walked around to the other side of the saled bar, directly opposite from her. I pretended I was looking at the sald but I was watching her. And then she looked up at me. She looked right at me and she gave me the nicest smile. I froze like a deer in the headlights. I was taken so off-guard, that I don't even remember if I smiled back. I think I probably just looked shell-shocked. I was actually dizzy for a moment that such an amazingly beautiful woman--a stranger--smiled at me like that.
I recovered my senses enough to realize that I had to make my move now or never. I slowly maneuvered my way around the salad bar, stalking her, dragging my feet because I still hadn't the slightest clue of what to say to this Goddess. By the look on her face, I'm fairly sure she was trying not to laugh at my clumsy efforts. But she lingered, and I thought perhaps she was giving me an opportunity to talk to her. (Or maybe that's just wishful thinking).
I opened my mouth to talk to her and literally no sound came out. I cleared my throat to try again but I was intercepted by another guy to hit on her with much more confidence than I had. I lurked for a while, hoping he'd go away. She was polite but clearly disinterested, and she walked to the check-out. She finally managed to brush the guy off. When I saw the cashier ringing her up, I realized with alarm that my window of opportunity was closing.
I took my tuna salad to the register but just as I got there, she finished paying and walked toward the exit. I probably should have dumped my food and ran after her, but I stupidly waited until I got rung-up and paid. I watched her walk out and she glanced back--and she waved at me. I couldn't believe it! I was stunned that a girl who looked like that would be so friendly to a nerdy office drone like me.
The cashier took an annoyingly long time to ring up my small purchase and I was straining at the leash to go after that beauty I'd just seen. I finally got done at the register and I ran outside. Well, if you've ever been on a busy Manhattan street in the middle of a weekday, you know how crowded it can get. Maybe you've seen movies with mobs of people crowding the city sidewalks. I couldn't spot her in all that. I tried to cut thought the crowd but then I noticed that my lunch hour was over. My job was very strict about lateness and so I had to choose. Do I continue hunting through the crowds for the gorgeous girl or do I protect my job? After a long pause, I decided that I had to get back to work, so I rushed back to the office. But for the rest of the day, my mind was just not on work. I couldn't get that amazing face out of my mind.
For the next two weeks, I stood out in front of my job at the same time every day, hoping that she'd pass again. Alas, she never did. I was amazed two weeks later when I went to the movies and saw her up there on the screen in "Hackers". I actually shouted "that's her!" out loud in the theater. People looked at me like I was a looney and I sank back into my seat embarrassed.
Well, I never saw Angelina Jolie again in person but I've seen her many times on film and in photos. I have a sketch I did of her on my wall. So whenever I see Angelina Jolie, I think about my missed opportunity. I'm not saying I would have been the love of her life. I'm no Brad Pitt! But it would be fun to be able to say that I went out on a date with Angelina Jolie once upon a time. Its one of those days I wish I could do over.
Oh well. Angelina, wherever you are; thanks for the smile. It made my week.