People always ask me if I run into a lot of celebrities in Miami. Actually, no one asks me that, but I wish they would. It’s one of the few pleasures of living in an area so defined by stardom (and so far removed from reality) that while Brooke and I were lying on the beach yesterday a plane flew overhead towing a banner reading “Q-Tip at Mansion tonight!” meaning the rapper Q-Tip would be at the club Mansion, not that someone was giving away ear swabs at their bay front estate, which is a shame.
That said, the range of celebrities I have run into are B-list at best. Whenever I read the gossip blogs and see pictures of Lindsey Lohan or Heidi Klum on South Beach I can’t help but think that the pictures were actually taken on South Beech – the elaborate soundstage just north of Hollywood designed to replicate south Florida, because if that really is Regis Philbman walking down the street in Miami, how come no one is mugging him?
Still though, I’ve had my run ins, culminating this past weekend when I found myself accidentally watching an ex-90’s boy band member blow out the candles on his birthday cake at a South Beach hotel. It was an event that may have struck me as interesting when I first got here – novel in the way it always is when you sing happy birthday to someone whose face you’ve seen on a CD cover. But by now it was just one more sad event in a long line of celebrity spottings that, much like menstrual spottings, left me feeling more embarrassed than excited.
It started a few months after we’d arrived. Brooke was invited to tour a local hotel she was writing an article about and I decided to go along for the ride. As she wandered the grounds, I lounged poolside taking in the scene. Then I noticed Dennis Rodman standing right next to me. He was drinking a cocktail out of a comically small plastic cup, making me realize that one of the plights of being that large must be how silly certain things look in your hand, like a fork or a baby.
I tried desperately to play it cool, thinking how if I was famous I would want people to respect my privacy and not to fawn all over me in public*. At the same time, when you’re sitting next to someone you watched play basketball on TV for years and years, you can’t just be like, “Oh, hey – didn’t notice your 7-foot black frame there. I was getting a text message from my mom.” I eventually shot him a casual “What’s up” head-nod/smile, to which he responded by staring off into the distance, and left it at that.
Since then, I have encountered the following famous people:
• Dwayne Wade. Brooke and I went to a party thrown by a local magazine that had featured Dwayne Wade on the cover. When we showed up and watched him walk into the club surrounded by a group of friends, Brooke turned to me and asked, “Do you think he’ll perform?” to which I replied, “Like play basketball?” to which she replied with a very confused look, “You mean he’s not a rapper?”
• Deepak Chopra. This was an especially weird one because Chopra was the keynote speaker at an event we attended called Lingerie Miami. Basically it was an outdoor fashion show for fancy underwear, and to kick it all off Chopra gave a speech about the rights of women, presumably those specifically pertaining to the right to seduce your man in a French Maid costume:
Eva Longoria was supposed to be there too, but Brooke and I left early, partly because she was cold and partly because public erections make me uncomfortable.
• Jeffrey Donovan. Burn Notice is one of my favorite TV shows, so when Brooke was out at some party and texted me saying that she just saw him there, I shot back, “SHUT UP. Sleep with him, please.” Which honestly wouldn’t have bothered me because then when I finally got to meet him myself, I’d have a rock solid conversation starter. “Hey, I’m Dan Murphy. You had sex with my girlfriend Brooke. Jewish, busty, drinks like a sailor? So how are things?”
• Alex Rodriguez. This was at a restaurant opening just a few weeks ago, and I have to say: Being on the disabled list with a right hip labrum tear seems like an awful lot of fun. He even got Molly Sims’ phone number at the end of the night, which would have been a lot cooler if instead of it being the end of the night, it was the end of 1998, but whatever.
• Gloria Estefan. Dade county law actually stipulates that you aren’t an official citizen of Miami until you’ve seen Gloria Estefan eating at a low-to-mid priced restaurant.
• Someone who I thought was Paulie from Rocky. I realized it wasn’t him when instead of getting into the back of a cab parked out front of a hotel, he drove it away.
• Enrique Iglesias. Brooke is convinced she saw him get out of a cab in front of a Walgreen’s liquor store the other night. Right after telling me this, she said, “That’s a real person, right?”
• Kevin Bacon. He was performing with his brother’s band at a hotel opening on South Beach. Having seen Footloose more times than I care to admit, and growing up believing that if only the world would dance together we could solve whatever problems may be driving us apart, this should have been way more awesome than it was. He neither sang “Footloose”, nor did the dance, officially dropping him below “Applewood smoked” on my list of favorite bacons.
• Dennis Rodman again. This time I was walking Puppy along a busy street and Rodman was sitting in the back seat of a convertible with the top down. Traffic was moving slowly, so after he passed me the first time, I caught up with him a few feet ahead. We proceeded on like this for long enough that after Puppy pooped right in front of Rodman and I picked it up and threw it in the trash can, I considered making a “swish!” joke.
All of which leads up to this past weekend at the Mondrian Hotel. I was there with Brooke, a few people she knows, and David Barton of David Barton gyms, who is built like a brick shithouse. We’d been invited on a whim and decided “the heck with it!” – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone would still be on TiVo tomorrow.
Suddenly, through the din of the loud dance music, I hear “Happy Birthday” being sung nearby. I ask someone with us whose birthday it is and they say Lance Bass. While causing some sort of inexplicable ire to rise up inside me, I still can’t place the name. Finally it hit me that he was the second most famous member of 'N Sync, and of course this meant that I had to join in singing happy birthday to him, which I did, and when someone sidled up next to me and asked who we were singing for I mispronounced it, “Lance Base,” and went right on singing. He seemed genuinely pleased when we were all done, and as I went back to drinking my free tequila there was only one thought on my mind: I need a better camera phones, preferably one like they have on Gossip Girl because their scandalous pictures always come out perfectly clear.
* This is, of course, untrue. I would want people asking me to sign their faces and offering me their sandwiches just so I could take a bite and hand it back to them and they could keep it in a glass case on their mantle forever.