We all have things in our lives that in a moment of passion we vow to never do. “I will never break someone’s heart” “I will never eat more than one cookie” Well, my solemn vow was if I ever met a famous person I would be totally cool-headed. They are just normal people, right? Not right. Not even remotely correct. Like, I wish I could go back in time just to bash Past Valerie’s head into a wall for even thinking that thought. Someone who wears thousand dollar shoes and lives primarily inside of a television could not ever be normal.
I was in San Diego a few weeks ago with my senior class for our last hoorah together before graduation. After months of annoying begging from each of the girls, we set aside a California day to visit Los Angeles. The City of Angels- or as I fondly call it- The City of Zac Efron, since we all know angel and Zac Efron are synonymous. Anyway, I am getting off track. So we trekked out to LA on a Tuesday. Nothing exciting ever happens on Tuesdays, that is why plane tickets are the cheapest that day. That being said, you can understand how my LA expectations were limited to me putting my hands in Bing Crosby’s cement hand prints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. This was not the Maybe-If-My-Expectations-Are-Extremely-Low-Then-I’ll-Be-Very-Surprised-When-Something-Spectacular-Happens kind of thing. No it was more like the I-Never-Win-Anything-And-Have-The-Worst-Luck-Ever-So-Maybe-I’ll-Get-Lucky-And-Chip-My-Tooth-On-Lucille-Ball’s-Walk-Of-Fame-Star kind of thing.
We are not standing on LA ground more than five minutes when the vulturous tourism maniacs hone in on our mid-west pale skin and serious scrutiny of the Walk of Fame stars which no one else seems to mind stepping on. They offer us a tour that takes us through Beverly Hills and Hollywood and when they mention Elvis’ house as a sight, they had me hooked. As much as I wanted to hop on their bus right then and tour the most magical city in America, nature was calling most of us after a ninety minute ride and so we had to find a bathroom quickly. The charismatic, albeit sweaty, tourist guide- may he be infinitely blessed for eternity- directed us to a hotel two blocks over.
There are many moments in a girl’s life when she feels poor. The first time she picks up a pretty pair of sensible shoes in Nine West only to realize they cost three times the amount she has in her bank account. When she finds herself paying for her McDonald’s milkshake in pennies and nickles. Since I have experienced all of the above, I can say with confidence that I know what Eliza in My Fair Lady felt like when surrounded by people who made more in a month than she could make in her entire life. I walked into the ritzy W Hotel. I could not have felt more out of place if I had attended the Oscar’s wearing a potato sack. We scurry past the well dressed entourage of people in the lobby, climbing over a rock garden and through an inconveniently placed plant into the most lavish bathroom I have ever set foot in. A jeweled column stood in the center of this darkly tiled foyer with modern sinks and eight separate rooms which were considered stalls. I stood and gaped for a few moments and then went to investigate the stall décor. The funny thing was that for such an expensive bathroom there were no lights in the stalls.
I have always prided myself on my most useless and most treasured skill. I am scarily good at recognizing actor’s voices. I know that DJ’s boyfriend Steve on Full House played the speaking voice of Aladdin. I know that Mel Gibson in all his psychotic glory, played the voice of John Smith in Pocahontas. For this reason I am most ashamed of what happened next. I hear a voice of a woman across from me wondering where the lights are. I hear my friend say that we were looking for them too and could not find them. She then goes on to say something along the lines of, “Well, I think I’ve done this enough times to know how it works.” I walk out to wash my hands a few moments later. I find myself idly wondering where my friends are. I had soap on my hands and was impatiently looking for away to turn the fancy sink on, to no avail. I look up into the mirror and am going to ask the woman at the other sink if her’s is working when my tongue becomes glued to the roof of my mouth when I see Ellen DeGeneres smiling at me.
My mouth dropped open and I stood for a few silent seconds debating whether to yell out to my friends whom I thought were in the stalls, “ELLEN IS HERE I REPEAT, ELLEN IS IN THE BATHROOM.” It was the weirdest thing ever because minutes before we had all been talking about who we would like to meet if we had the chance while in LA and I said Ellen DeGeneres, which is so ironic. I think I was also so shocked because I think on the inside I kind of always thought celebrities were these animatronic creatures that did not exist in the normal world. I mean, you do not expect to look up and see a famous person doing something normal like washing their hands. If she had been average I would have proceeded to ask her about her sink and perhaps laugh at the idiotic construction of pretty sinks that do not do their jobs. But instead I elected to dart out of the bathroom, soapy, unwashed hands included, to make sure my friends would believe what I saw. It turns out they had already seen her and spoken to her and did not give me any warning at all. They could have given me three taps on the door or a bird call or something.
While laughing at me, my friends helped me clean the ridiculous blue soap off of my hands while the maitre’d looked on, laughing at my wide, disbelieving eyes. Ellen came out of the restroom and when we asked her to take a picture with us said, “Okay, should we get into a pyramid? As long as I can be on top.” to which we all forgot to laugh because we were in awe of her realness. I handed my phone to her right hand man, Andy. He started to look confused while trying to take our picture and Ellen asked him if he was doing all right and he said he was. After all was said and done, I had a blurry picture starring Andy’s finger and an accidental selfie he took with my front camera. How thankful I am that there were a few other cameras besides mine.
I called my mom and dad after this and told them what just happened. My dad told me I should have asked her for money for my missions trip and my mom wanted to know if I had told her I was born where she was in Louisiana. My mom also made sure to remind me that if I saw Robert Downey Jr. to grab his legs and hold on for dear life and if I were to see Johnny Depp to “not be afraid to give him her number” her words, not mine. I touched Ellen while we were taking the most exciting picture of my life. I feel that since Ellen has hugged and touched so many celebrities in her lifetime, a few of them rubbed off on me. So I have decided that through Ellen I have hugged Ryan Gosling, Taylor Swift, and Jude Law. I may not be famous but by golly, I do believe I can be considered famous adjacent now. I’m hoping my next brush with fame will be a little more graceful, but not likely.