Celebrity Sighting

Growing up in Southern California my family’s airport of choice was Los Angeles International.  There is very little that is good about LAX.  It’s too old to be nice or clean and too new to be considered classic or unique.  The only thing LAX has going for it is celebrity-sighting.

When they travel internationally, and they certainly do, most Hollywood celebrities fly in and out of LAX.  This means that if you keep a sharp eye out for tiny people with big heads wearing sunglasses indoors, you’re likely to spot at least one mid-grade actor near a Starbucks. Even if it is just Gilbert Gottfried.

Because of this I don’t usually get tongue-tied or starstruck when I run into someone like Danny Glover at the Smarte Carte return.  I just smile and keep moving.

The closest I’ve ever come to making a fool out of myself was the time I saw Diane Lane buying a copy of USA Today.  I was 22 and I had just turned around from the register after purchasing some mints. We were face to face.

Hers, a face that’s launched a thousand ships, mine a ship of fools.

I said, “Pardon me”, nodded my head, and sidestepped her.  As I walked to my gate I congratulated myself on not saying or doing something embarrassing or untoward.  I realized then that I do pretty well when I’m around people whom others lose their minds over.

I was once nearly trampled by a throng of Michael Jackson fans just outside the Log Jammer at Knott’s Berry Farm.  I kept my cool while he walked right by.

One of my good friends told Jennifer Love Hewitt that “he loved her” when we bumped into her at Disneyland.  Her response, “I know…”.  I just kept walking.

I thought that this was because I was somehow “immune” to celebrity.  Like maybe I had seen enough of it and now I was so mature that it didn’t affect me.

That was until I made a complete nincompoop out of myself in front of someone I really admire.

Last year I attended Catalyst West, a conference for Christian leaders hosted at Mariners Church in Irvine, Ca.  I was walking into a main session when I noticed that Matt Chandler, Pastor of The Village Church in Texas, was enjoying some sun by himself on a bench.

I felt the immediate need to run right up and tell him everything I could about how important his ministry and teaching have been to my life.  I wanted to tell him that his battle with brain cancer had inspired me to push deeper into my walk with Jesus.  I wanted to tell him that his faithfulness had helped me become a… wait for it… better man.

I knew in that moment that I needed to collect myself or I’d become one of those girls that just stands there and cries during a Justin Bieber concert.

I went into the auditorium and found my buddy Jeff.  Jeff is not usually the model of restraint, he’s the kind of guy who drinks all of life in and then throws the bottle bulls-eye into the trash can.  He’s always full of energy and animated.

I looked at Jeff and very coolly and calmly said, “MATT CHANDLER IS OUTSIDE AND WE SHOULD GO TALK TO HIM!”

Jeff immediately stood up and followed me out the door, when we got outside the building I could see that Chandler had now been joined by another very serious looking man and a beautiful woman.

As we approached I realized that I felt exactly like Cougar must have as he tried landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier in Top Gun, I was coming in too low and way too hot.  I tried thinking of exactly what I was going to say:

“Mr Chandler, your life and ministry have made a tremendous impact on my life.  Your sermons are spiritual kick starters and many times are a nice gut check. Thank you.”

We got to the bench, I stuck out my hand and said,

“Mr Chandler, thanks for kicking our nut.”

He looked at me like I had just come down from planet Vulcan to melt his brain.  Jeff shook his hand, thanked him for being such a great leader and family man, said goodbye to all three of them, and whisked me away.

For the rest of the afternoon I replayed the events in my head, trying to figure out what had gone so horribly wrong.

I never get flustered around important people.

I usually am quite well spoken.

I’ve never thanked anyone for “kicking nut” before.

After a day had passed, it finally dawned on me.  I never had a problem meeting Hollywood celebrities because I’d never actually been impressed with them before.  They weren’t doing anything that I was captivated by.  I didn’t find what they did so important that I was willing to allow my life path to be altered by it.

With Chandler, I was not only coming face to face with someone who I was impressed by, I was also talking to someone who I was personally indebted to.

I’m discovering that if you want to learn what a person really values, you only need to look at people that they are enamored with. 

The people who leave us tongue-tied are the people that we respect and admire.  The question is whether or not they have actually done something that is worthy of our devotion and adulation?

Are their contributions to our life lasting and indelible?

Are their achievements self-focused or eternal?

What would our life look like if they’d never lived?

If I ever see Matt Chandler again I’m just going to smile and wave.   He doesn’t need me to make a fool out of myself, or embarrass his wife and grim-looking friend, to understand that he’s respected and admired for making an eternal difference for the Kingdom of God.

I’ll probably also want to have Jeff with me… just in case.




7 Responses to “Celebrity Sighting”

  1. Meg October 26, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Oh my- I know that feeling of walking away and thinking, “What just happened?” That happened to me with Lenny Kravitz- I know, celebrity. But I really admired him as a musician and had been listening to his music for years. I walked up to him thinking I was going to tell him what a great musician I thought he was. All that came out was, “Lenny…..” then a blank stare and utter silence. I was frozen. He felt so bad for me, he gave me a hug and walked off. It was pretty embarrasing- and my husband still loves to tell the story. Thankfully, I can laugh about it now.
    I bet that Mr. Chandler knew you were coming from a place of admiration and respect and that you were not some “kicking nut” creepy guy. Smile and wave- I like that plan. Thanks Jon.

  2. Jon October 26, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Oh man! I feel for you, at least you got a hug out of it though! I’m glad Lenny was cool about, he’s probably had worse.

  3. Sharon O October 26, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    That was a funny story, and I do believe we ‘feel and act’ different when it is someone ‘of importance’…wonder what we will do when we see Jesus?

    • Jon October 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

      Such a good question Sharon, I have a feeling that I’ll be Bieber crying…

  4. Mike Maxwell October 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    I feel the same way every time I run into you Jon. ;>

  5. Jon October 26, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    Well you’ve never said anything remotely stupid to me so… Great poker face!

  6. Jeff Patterson October 26, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    One of my favorite moments of all time. The story would have been the same if I had been the first to say something.

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