Most of “pursuing your dreams” involves working low-paying service and temp jobs, then trudging home and weeping into your almost-expired cereal. Fresh out of college, there’s a grace period, a Chekhovian kind of “work is fulfilling, and so I shall do it always and do it with joy!” cloud upon which you briefly float. That grace/cloud period lasts about three weeks. Ultraman just got a job as a barista, and he’s currently going through that whole “happiness” thing. It will end soon, but in the mean time, I enjoy stopping in to visit him:
Ultraman: Welcome, welcome, welcome, darlin’! How can I help you?
Grumplekee: You can’t. My problems are vast. Can I have hot chocolates?
Ultraman: A hot chocolate?
Grumplekee: I think we both heard the plural. Let’s not pretend.
But I’ve come to discover something, a loophole, in the awful-post-grad-job circuit. Somehow, through some twist of karma or fate or John Cusack-fueled serendipity, you run into celebrities. At one job I was temping, Paul Rudd showed up. A fabulous fellow temp told Paul Rudd how huge a fan I am, and halfway through the day I hear, “HEEEEY KEELY!” and turn around to get hugged by a devastatingly handsome, ridiculously friendly, plaid-clad Paul Rudd. I sputtered some nonsense about being a fan and thinking he was grand, then tried to make a joke about having rhymed, and ended it all by running around and trying to find a window to jump out of.
Another time, the same group of temps all stared at RuPaul from afar, each of us silently knowing that RuPaul was clearly only ever meant to be painted, and never spoken to.
My biggest celebrity experience was meeting Tina Fey–and I waited 12 hours at a book signing for that, it was no lovely coincidence. But when I got up to the table, Bossypants clutched to my bosom, I literally blacked out. It is something I seriously regret, because Tina Fey is a legit hero of mine. I vaguely remember saying “I LOVE YOU” too loudly, rambling about Second City, and then ending it all by running around and trying to find a window to jump out of.
Celeb sightings at temp jobs are one thing; big, expensive events need cheap, desperate workers with shiny hair and decent teeth. My job as a waitress has been different. I haven’t seen one celebrity–I always somehow miss them. People talk about serving Quentin Tarantino burgers, and seeing Susan Sarandon walk by flashing the peace sign, and Diane Lane and Josh Brolin stopping by for beers and then tipping $100.
But oh how the tables turned today. And they turned with glorious, glorious ferocity and beauty and magic and ahhhhh yes! Today I came into work, horribly sunburned from the one hour I spent sitting in the half-shade yesterday, and my manager took one look at me and told me to go home and rest. I lingered around for a bit to talk to the servers who were on–we’re basically all 20-something creative types, so there’s always a lot of “I got the iambic pentameter all screwed up and I want to die,” and, “they told me I’m just not ethnic enough!” and “they told me I’m just too ethnic!” etc. Then, out of nowhere, the hostess comes up to the bar and says, “Kristen Wiig is here.”
It was like Christmas morning, but awful. But wonderful. But absolutely horrible. Because I knew instantly that this was my chance to redeem myself after Feygate. I had to convey to Kristen Wiig that she is my goddamn hero, and that she must put the lotion in the basket, without coming off as a creepy fanboy. I had mucked it up with one hero, Gilda Radner is dead, and Carol Burnett is probably a hologram. Everyone else was like, “Oh wow, cool, let’s go look at Kristen Wiig!” and I was like, “SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP I NEED TO THINK, YOU ANIMALS!”
So I sat down at an empty table with my serving pad, and anyone who asked me what I was doing was told to fuck right off. It was business time; dream weaving time. I went through seven drafts, and came up with the following:
It obviously doesn’t speak much for me as a writer that this was the result of seven drafts, but my signature had to be perfect. I asked Laura, the waitress who had taken Kristen Wiig’s table, to slip it in with the check when she brought it. And then I waited. I sat at the bar like a hunted animal, watching Laura and not even pretending to listen to what anyone was saying. I begged Laura not to forget to slip it into the check every time she walked by–she promised she wouldn’t forget, as long as it would be made very clear that she, Laura, had not written Kristen Wiig the love note. I understood. And then Laura dropped the check, and the most amazing thing happened.
Kristen Wiig asked where I was, and if she could meet me. To ensure I didn’t black out again, I slapped myself in the face. Hard. Like I had seen in Western movies when a family member has just died but there’s no time for an emotional breakdown because villains are afoot. Then I walked over to her table.
And guess what. Kristen Wiig might be the coolest goddamn person on the planet. She hugged me, and thanked me, and said I had made her day and that she was going to hang onto my note because it meant a lot to her. She introduced me to the guy friend she was with–noooo idea what his name was–and joked that when she came back I needed to write her a longer note, with some of my hair attached. I suggested I also attach toenails, and that we meld into one person, non-sexually. Wow, I blew it again, right? NOPE, she was cool enough to not be terrified by that joke and run away, BUT actually laughed. Then she left a $20 tip.
Kristen Wiig really might be the goddamn coolest person on the planet.
And now I feel redeemed. Miraculously, the encounter did not end with me running around in search of a window to jump out of. I did walk away shaking, and when she said she was going to keep the note, I teared up, but I didn’t screech “I LOVE YOU!” or ask for her trendy headband as a keepsake (even though I really wanted to). I felt good, and normal, and grounded, and full of worth.
But then she left and I lost my shit and had a photo shoot with the diet coke glass she was drinking out of.
KRISTEN WIIG’S DIET COKE!!!!!!!
THE LIME IN KRISTEN WIIG’S DIET COKE!!!!!
CLOSEUP OF KRISTEN WIIG’S DIET COKE!!!!!
KRISTEN WIIG’S DIET COKE NEXT TO A COPY OF FIFTY SHADES OF GREY THAT SOMEONE LEFT AT THE BAR LAST NIGHT!!!!!
IT’S KIND OF LIKE KRISTEN WIIG AND I MADE OUT BECAUSE SHE MAYBE DRANK OUT OF THIS STRAW!!!!!
Now I have a daydream that Kristen Wiig and Tina Fey take high tea together, and my name is mentioned, and Tina Fey goes, “Oh my, that rather unbalanced girl who yelled at me in gobbledygook?” and Kristen Wiig goes, “No, no! That sweet, eloquent girl who so admires our work! I have a very well written note from her framed in gold over the vanity in my boudoir.”
And then they both smile warmly and take delicate bites of their crumpets, then talk about dear Lorne and all his goings on.