Janet Urquhart: Are the stars out tonight?
Jay Thomas said “hi” to me once. That had been my most significant celebrity sighting story to date, but when I related it to friends, their general response was, “Who?” In fact, half the time, I can’t remember his name. Instead, I tell people, “You know, that guy who played Carla’s husband, the hockey player, on ‘Cheers.’ “Friends from afar seem to think I bump into movie stars at every turn in Aspen, as though I’m hobnobbing with the rich and famous in the produce aisle at the grocery store. In reality, I’m not likely to know who’s here unless I happen to read about it in a magazine while I’m standing in the checkout line.I never see celebs on the street, probably because I’m watching the pavement just in case one of them dropped their bank account in a snowbank.So, when I noticed a very familiar-looking man walking toward me one day on a Main Street sidewalk, I wasn’t thinking “ooh, famous guy.” I figured he was someone I’d encountered in the course of my job someone I recognized but whose name escaped me. This happens to me all the time.He, of course, met my gaze, figured I recognized him as an actual star, smiled and said “hi.” It was only later that a synapse finally fired and I linked his face to his profession and realized an actor who I’d see on TV and in at least one movie had greeted me on the street.That Aspenites act like this is no big deal. Nonchalance is part of the local’s code. We don’t stare, we don’t ask for autographs, and we don’t pester them to pose with us while someone snaps a quick photo. Instead, we nudge each other the first chance we get and whisper, “Don’t look, but so-and-so is right over there.” Then we pretend to ignore whoever it is while stealing glances in that direction at every opportunity.At any rate, I’ve spotted relatively few famous faces in Aspen, though I don’t doubt I’ve encountered a few who didn’t even register with me. If any or all of the members of Phish knocked on my front door, I would not recognize them. I could say the same about Dick Cheney, for that matter.But, I spied an undeniably familiar visage quite by happenstance last weekend. I couldn’t decide whether he was who I thought he might be or was simply some impostor who bore a striking resemblance to a seriously famous person. Numerous sneak peeks in his direction later, I still wasn’t sure, so I shrugged and ignored him in earnest instead of pretending to ignore him.That’s when he approached me.I’m standing face to face with a suspected celebrity who’s asking me a question. My response: “Uh, I dunno.” Suave, Janet. Very suave.Now, when friends ask me what celebrities I’ve met, I’ll tell them I “chatted” with Paul Simon once. At least, I think it was him.[Janet Urquhart is shorter in person. Her column appears on Fridays]
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My first step onto the natural lake ice is tentative as I launch off on a thin, stainless-steel blade. Will the ice support me? Will I go plummeting through into a hypothermic bath?