“I met Harrison Ford!”: Reflections on Celebrity Worship

Yesterday, I met Harrison Ford.

It was one of those classic L.A. moments that all of my friends back home assume that I have every day. My coworkers and I strolled out of our Santa Monica offices, stretching our cubicle-weary legs, headed for the food trucks at the center of the business park. On our way, we passed two fellow assistants.

“Guess who we saw back there!” they exclaimed.

They told us.

We got a little excited. They resumed power-walking back to the office to clock in on time.

One of the guys and I started to awkwardly gallop in the direction they’d pointed, while the other guy laughed.

“Do you think they’re for real? Are we really gonna run? Why would they have said they saw him? I bet they’re full of it.”

We slowed to a more professional pace, too cool to look like idiots once we were out in the open. We casually scoped, but grew doubtful. My running-mate coworker shrugged and made for the Greek truck. My eyes lighted on the ever-popular “India Jones” truck—always the best choice for curry. Wouldn’t it be funny if…

I turned to my skeptic coworker.

“That old guy isn’t…nah…?”

We paused. Right next to India Jones stood a gentleman in jeans and tinted glasses, with quite a few decades under his belt. And he seemed oddly familiar. My coworker, a skeptic no more, quietly confirmed what we both knew.

“That is Harrison [expletive deleted] Ford.”

After a few seconds of panicky-excited deliberation, we agreed to be each other’s celebrity wingman. We walked OH SO CASUALLY over to India Jones, and I thought about how glad I was that I’d decided to wear a nice dress this particular Monday. Somehow I forced myself the last couple of feet to casually interrupt.

“Excuse me, but am I right that the fact that you’re by this particular truck is ironic?”

“Yes,” Harrison Ford said. “It’s super ironic.”

I somehow managed to squeak out a request for a picture, and he thanked me for my polite approach, but declined.
“It’s not you,” he assured me. I nodded my total understanding. He could be easily mobbed with this many people. It only made sense. Thank you. Nice to meet you.

We maintained our casualness for the first ten feet before booking our way over to the Greek truck to tell our other office-mate what he’d missed.

We were the talk of the lunch table.

Now that I’ve worked in L.A. for a while, you might think that celebrity sightings get old. After all, this isn’t my first famous-person rodeo. But it still takes all of my twenty-something willpower not to freak out or go for a stealth picture. I know it’s not Hollywood professional, but I still haven’t quite shaken the fan-girl in me.

And on top of it, so much more than the sighting is the story. It’s not just that I saw Lance Bass from N*Sync, it’s that I got to ask him what he thought of the new Justin Timberlake album. Again, of course, with this record-high level of forced casualness.

A friend of mine was telling me the other day about the time she saw Jennifer Lawrence. Standing in the midst of a huge crowd all shoving and straining to see her go by, my friend thought back to the reasons why people love Ms. Lawrence.

“She’s so down to earth! I feel like we could be best friends!”

And yet, my friend concluded, none of us ever will be.

Which is the thing about celebrity worship. We try so hard to be close just to be able to act like we know Han Solo any better than the next guy. We memorize trivia and analyze hairstyles. We wait uncomfortably for hours just to maybe catch a glimpse or a Marcus Mumford guitar pick. Just to have that story.

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.”And the woman was healed at that moment. (Matt. 9:20-22 NIV)

Matthew tells about a celebrity sighting that was worth way more than a Facebook photo. A lifetime of pain, gone.

What a story.

How great that there’s a Famous One who isn’t only found on Rodeo Drive wearing concealing Ray-Bans, but who can be found by anyone who seeks. We won’t even be a bother to him if we interrupt. He likes it.

And we have no reason to be nervous to come near him. We already have his autograph on our hearts. And he’s shown us, by just how “down to earth” he became, that he really could be our best friend.

We can awkward-gallop towards the throne of grace with confidence—heedless of those intimidating angel bodyguards—and tell the biggest celebrity of all time,

“Hey, I’m a big fan of your work.”

And the crazy details of our run-in with him will be a story we tell forever.