Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dear Simon Baker,

I am writing to apologize for my behavior last Sunday.

I want you to know that I am not normally one of those guys who acts like an idiot around celebrities. I've worked in the film industry, and I know that famous people are ordinary schmucks who get tired of being harassed by delusional fans. So, yeah... sorry about that.

The truth is, when I forgot to fill out the immigration form in the Brisbane airport and you slipped ahead of me in line, even after I recognized you I was more interested in staring at your gorgeous daughter. I didn't know anything about you (I don't own a television); but my dad loves your latest show, so I knew you were famous and I just sort of assumed she was your arm-candy girlfriend. It was an obnoxious conclusion, fershure; but given that you are a Hollywood fixture, it wasn't a hard jump to make.

Then she called you "dad."

I quickly estimated your age (early forties?) and calculated that she was most likely waaaay too young to leave your side for a 31 year-old art teacher/writer. So with my attention diverted back to you, I stepped up to the kiosk. As I handed my passport and completed form to the immigration officer I lowered my voice and asked, "That guy was a celebrity, wasn't he?" He nodded, so I asked him your name. "Simon Baker," he replied.

I followed you out. As you went left towards the "hang-out-with-other-rich-people" lounge, I walked right, towards gate 86. Mine was the only flight to Los Angeles in the next few hours, so I assumed you would be on it. I thought about asking to shake your hand, but then my inner chicken started squawking and I sank down in cowardice next to three giggling, twenty-something American tourists.

After a while I took out my camera, set it on video, and toyed with the idea of grabbing a little proof that I had spent twelve hours in a metal tube rocketing through the ether with a celebrity. I toggled the power switch a few times before switching it firmly to "off."

"That's stupid," I told myself, "stupid and rude and too American. I'm half Canadian. I know better." I opened my bag and snugged the camera into its waterproof case, but as I zipped my carry-on shut I looked up and saw Cate Blanchett walking by. She was wearing a green knitted thingy on her head and her hair was all disheveled, but Nicole-Kidman-as-my-witness, it was her. I turned to the American tourist girls and said,

"Well, if our plane goes down, at least we know the world's gonna hear about it - both Simon Baker and Cate Blanchett are on our flight. That was Cate Blanchett who just walked by."

"What?!?" the closest one almost-shreiked... "Where?"

I pointed over my shoulder.

"Up there, in the green bandana."

"Really?" she asked, staring, "No effing way!"

As she said it, I began to have my doubts. Whenever I visit my brother and we drive around Los Angeles, I annoy him by claiming to see celebrities behind every steering wheel. That Latina in the station wagon with the cleaning supplies? That's Paz Vega, preparing for a role. The guy in the Maserati with impenetrably-tinted windows? Obviously Tom Cruise. I started to wonder - was it really Cate Blanchett? It could have been Anna Torv, another famous Australian actor... or maybe even Janet Smith, a mid-level accountant from Poughkeepsie.

I needed proof, or there was no way anyone would believe me. I got my camera out, turned it on, focussed, and rested it on my knee... waiting for you to break through the phalanx of security guards who for some reason were pulling random passengers into a cubicle for more "intimate" questioning. The gate attendant started the boarding and my seating zone was called, but I held firm. Finally, I saw you. I flipped on my "casual face" and my camera, pushed "record," and stared straight ahead.

What I didn't count on was that the line had backed up to a point almost directly beside me; and that a man who spends his life being paparazzied gets a sixth sense about it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw you notice my camera and then slow down as you drew parallel to my chair. I tried to turn the LCD screen away and hit the record button again, but it was too late. I heard you say "sneaky" over my shoulder. Face burning, I capped the lens and slipped the camera into its case.

At that point, I should have turned and said, "It was sneaky, wasn't it?" as I flashed my most impish grin. I should have apologized for being so pathetic, and then I should have added, "I was just trying to get some proof for my dad, but I'll delete it if you'd like."

You seem like a nice enough guy (you were good with your kids; and as a dad myself, that goes a long way), so you most likely would have laughed it off, shaken my hand, and offered to get that lovely daughter of yours to take our picture together. We would have fallen to yakking about film-making. Then I would have told you about some shorts I had written and produced, and you would have insisted that I come sit with you in first class so we could drink champagne, shoot the schieze, and discuss roles for both of us in the feature film I've been working on. Or something.

By that point, however, my inner chicken was squawking like she smelled fox breath; so instead, I just sat there feeling stupid and American - an extra betrayal of my dad, who is the source of my half-Canadianship. Canadians aren't like that, I promise.

I know you get treated worse all the time, but not by me. You were on your home turf, with your kids, and I acted less than my best. You deserved better. So again... sorry. May paparazzi drop dead all around you, and may it rain Oscars and Emmy's on your birthday.


Josh Barkey

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