So last weekend my friend Denise and her husband wrangled me an invite to an annual private event at Doubleback Winery over in Walla Walla. Doubleback is a business partnership created by Drew Bledsoe and a close friend of his. They make great, robust estate-quality red wines. We got to sample the 2011 Cab which is the current bottling for sale, and got barrel samples of the '12 Cab and a Syrah that I can't remember the vintage of but still have the remembrance of the finish on my taste buds. I fell head over heels for that Syrah, it was dark and deep and...I'd go on, but I'm not really a proper oenophile. I can only parrot words like "redolent of dark cherry and plum with a smokey finish..." I sound like I know what I'm talking about but I'm really just talking out my butt. As usual.
The location of the event was their McQueen vineyard, at the very top of a sizable hill out in Walla Walla farm country. Denise wanted to introduce me to Drew and I tried to beg off, but she insisted. She also insisted on taking a picture of me with him with my cell phone but thank she hit the wrong button on my phone and so - thank God - it didn't turn out. I don't belong in pictures with famous (or even infamous) people. I must add, though, that Mr. Bledsoe is a genuinely down to earth, easygoing and gracious individual, as were his family members whom I was also privileged to meet.
I've always been leery of invading the personal space of celebrities. I remember riding a rental car shuttle in Florida once and realizing that Treat Williams and his family were standing not three feet away from me. I tried not to stare and I thought it was really odd (and kind of neat) that a celebrity would be riding the shuttle with all the other smelly people and not having a private car pick him up at the airport. I figured the last thing he and his kids would appreciate was some idiot they didn't know inserting themselves into their family time. So I just rode and tried to be normal. Whatever normal is, because I'm not sure I manage to impersonate normality too very often.
Once I also saw Bette Midler in the Nordstroms in downtown Seattle. She was near the makeup counters, and appeared to be completely without makeup. I thought she was brave. I also did not go anywhere near her.
The closest I ever got to actually attempting to bother a celebrity was to write a letter to Amy Grant many years ago in which I tried to coherently explain what it was about her music and her persona that I found so human and appealing and which I'm sure sounded like it was written by a teenage boy. Oh, and once at the airport in Seattle back in 1999 or so I attempted to obtain some autographs for my stepson from the WWE wrestlers who were arriving at the same time I was. I wouldn't have bothered but I knew it would mean something to a young boy for whom those guys were heroes.
Truthfully, for some reason people in a position of power or celebrity leave me feeling inocherent and unintelligible. The only predictable outcome of any encounter in which I open my mouth and talk is that I'll manage to bring up whichever subject is most likely to result in a blank stare from the other person. Its a particular gift I have.
Maybe it then be no surprise that I avoid visiting executives and VIP's at work like the plague. I will go out of my way to NOT be the person falling all over themselves to meet someone. I will more likely hang out on the fringes of a big event and make friends with the other "normal" people because it feels so much safer - and I'm so much less likely to utter something I can never take back. I suppose like many people I'm a little bit intimidated by celebrity and because I logically realize I shouldn't be, the conflict between logic and reality shuts down my thinking centers.
Fortunately this weekend I managed to retain my dignity and my composure, for which I'm sure my friend is grateful. I would have hated for her to feel like she'd invited someone along who tarnished her reputation by behaving like a complete idiot. Now that I've confessed, though, she'll probably err on the side of caution and leave me home next time. I would.