About 15-20 years ago, I was in my local Longs Drugs store in the fancy town of Montecito. It was Halloween or very close to it. It was a beautiful day but they always are.
I looked up to someone asking me a question.
I mean I really looked up at this handsome, thin man looming down at me from a great height. I’m no slouch at 5’8” but I wasn’t close to matching his height.
“Pardon me, do you know where the glittery nail polish is? It’s for my daughter’s Halloween costume,” he asked in a stately English accent.
“Um, sure.” I mumbled back to him. Nervous now because I was face-to-mid-chest with John Cleese.
I have always had a huge celebrity crush on John Cleese. Living in Santa Barbara for the past 10 years at the time, I was used to celebrity sightings. But John Cleese, though, —sigh— was close to my heart after seeing Monty Python for the first time when I was 10. Having practically memorized every Monty Python movie since then, I felt like he and I were tight.
(Thankfully I didn’t actually tell him that. I’ve done dumber things. Including literally body-slamming a certain super model in the Starbucks next door to my apartment on Coast Village Road. Keep reading this series. You’ll see.)
I showed the tall man where the glittery nail polish was and walked away, casual, unimpressed, and totally cool. Like a dork. I’m sure I kicked something on accident or knocked something over. It’s what I do.
Fast forward about 4 months and I’m at Longs again and here comes John Cleese heading straight towards me. His face lights up then politely asks me to help him locate something in the store. Whatever it was, it was casual and not-at-all-embarrassing, while I pretended to not be stalled in front of some sort of hygiene product. We located his item and he thanked me with effusive British gratitude and went on his way.
Dismissing the idea I possessed some deep, cross-ocean connection with my hero, it occurred to me that he must’ve recognized me as the nice employee who helped him the last time.
I like to imagine that he looked around for me the next time he came to Longs, maybe even asked if the nice blonde girl was working that day. Longs employees confused but excitedly trying to find me, whispering gossip. Maybe even the encounter rising my status to Employee of the Year.
Of course, the plaque in my honor would have to be a photo of a question mark because I never once worked at Longs Drugs store.