If you live in New York City, which I did from birth through age 27, you're bound to encounter a few celebrities every once in awhile. Here is a non-exhaustive gallery of insignificant celebrity and quasi-celebrity encounters I have had, and the snap judgments they provoked:
Who: Judd Nelson.
Where: Elevator of apartment building on West 66th Street.
When: Circa 1987.
Context/Content of Encounter: Exchange of smile with two 10 year-old children in elevator.
Snap Judgment: Nice guy, likes kids (not in a creepy way).
Who: Natalie Merchant.
Where: A stranger's outrageously fancy apartment near Union Square.
When: Circa 2003.
Context/Content of Encounter: Anti-death penalty fundraiser for the Southern Poverty Law Center during law school. Entire room gravely told to hush so Natalie could climb onto an ottoman in stocking feet and breathily sing a song for two minutes.
Snap Judgment: Irredeemably standoffish bitch, permanently destroyed the good association I'd previously had with the name Natalie from Facts of Life.
Who: Molly Ringwald.
Where: Second Avenue Deli on Lower East Side of Manhattan.
When: Circa 2004.
Context/Content of Encounter: Sat down at table next to table at which I was eating.
Snap Judgment: OMG. She looks exactly like Molly Ringwald! Does yoga (she had a yoga mat with her). Eats pastrami. Can't believe I'm seeing yet another cast member from the Breakfast Club.
Who: Eric Stoltz.
Where: Serendipity ice cream shop on Upper East Side of Manhattan.
When: Circa 1991.
Context/Content of Encounter: Eric Stoltz in a play with a friend's dad. Friend's dad took us out for ice cream afterwards with the STAR OF SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL AND I TOLD HIM I "LOVED HIS WORK" AND SUBSEQUENTLY DIED OF JOY FOR 45 MINUTES OVER FROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE (TM).
Snap Judgment: Extremely nice, wore great scarf. Subconsciously set stage for future marriage to a ginger.
Who: Rick Moranis.
Where: Museum of Natural History.
When: Circa 1994.
Context/Content of Encounter: Waiting in line to get into museum. My dad cracked some joke about how his kids, whom he was with, didn't look shrunk. He gave my dad the death stare and so did I.
Snap Judgment: Asshole, pretty much.
Who: Dianne Wiest
Where: Sushi restaurant on Upper West Side of Manhattan.
When: Circa 1989.
Context/Content of Encounter: Saw her at sushi bar.
Snap Judgment: Likes sushi.
Who: Conan O'Brien.
Where: Party for some TV show at which friend was production assistant.
When: Circa 2000.
Context/Content of Encounter: Walked past me near open bar of aforementioned party.
Snap Judgment: Extremely tall, used to being center of attention.
Who: Leona Helmsley.
Where: A fancy doggie day care in Greenwich Village.
Context/Content of Encounter: Ate bean burrito spiked with psilocybin mushrooms for no apparent reason and went to see a friend's band who, also for no apparent reason, had a regular gig at this doggie day care. Leona Helmsley's yappy little dog happened to be "getting married" to another rich person's yappy little dog in an elaborate canine wedding at the venue.
When: Circa 2002.
Snap Judgment: Rich, crazy, horrifying, and mean. Also: will never again attend another rich lady's dog's wedding on 'shrooms (or otherwise) again as long as I live, not even by accident.
Who: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Where: My dad's office.
Context/Content of Encounter: After her time in public life, Jackie O. became a book editor and for a time, worked at the same publishing company as my dad. I frequently came to his office during school breaks. On one such occasion, he asked me if I wanted to meet someone who had been the First Lady of the United States. Having a very superficial idea of what that was, I was less than impressed. But he took me down to her office and introduced me. She gracefully took a knee in front of me, smiled broadly, and asked how old I was. Before I could answer she said, "Let me guess . . . you're 8!" OMG. AMAZING! The fact that this smart, beautiful, glamorous woman had correctly guessed my age was way more impressive to me than the fact that she had been married to JFK.
Snap Judgment: Instantly fell in love with her and wished she were my grandma.