Recognizing in person someone you don't know personally can be a bit of an odd experience. For New Yorkers, seeing famous people gets to be old hat--quick. My girlfriend and I literally almost ran into Woody Allen once. One of us had to give in to avoid a collision. Being fans, we slowed our typical New York sidewalk rush to allow the legendary director to
cross in front of us to complete the 8-step trip from the entrance to his upper east side high-rise to a waiting limo unhindered.
Today, as I enjoyed a cup of coffee at Peet's while reading number 49 of Robert's Rules of Writing, "Hit Your Marks," I looked up and saw someone I recognized. It's been a while since I lived in New York, so that old "Wait a minute." feeling was there, palpable. The person I saw isn't all that famous, though, and there's another reason I recognized him.
I noticed on his ear what looked like a smear of office drab, light tan-colored paint. His clothes looked clean and new and he didn't look unhealthy. He did look a bit depressed, though, and maybe a little confounded. I know that face.
Once it dawned on me who I thought it was, I watched him for minute and decided not to approach him while inside. In hindsight, it may have been a bit of a risk and maybe even a little rude, but it dawned on me that I'd actually hoped to run into him. I guess it's the wanna-be journalist in me. I knew that from approaching him just once I'd be able to find something out and gauge my chances of talking to him again should he decline. He fixed his coffee, and, anonymously other than to me, walked out. I jumped up and followed, and not wanting him to get away, said "Excuse me." before just blurting out, "Are you Chris Brymer?" He said "No," and turned around to head back into the shop before quickly and with exasperation reversing himself, sighing, "Yes. I don't want to talk." I followed him in and went back to my table. I didn't want to bother him any more so I just let it go. Obviously, my approach could have been better, but I was so surprised I didn't think to give him my C.B.S. credibility speech. I'm not even sure if I saw him finally leave. The really weird part was how one of the employees found the rather innoucuous situation to be somehow an invasion of her turf. I almost needed hand puppets to explain. Oh, well.