You’re halfway through your meal at a buzzy restaurant when a familiar face and his/her companion are seated next to you. The person looks familiar at first — maybe it’s someone you’ve met. And then it hits you: it’s that actor/actress/reality star you’ve seen a million times. Whether you’re easily starstruck or not, recognition leads to accelerated heartbeat, not-so-discreet whispering and a flurry of smart phone texting to friends and Google and/or IMDB searches.
But slow your roll. When you find yourself within arm’s reach of a celebrity, the right thing to do is to do nothing. Bite your tongue, finish your meal, do your best to eavesdrop for future storytelling purposes, pay your check and leave. Famous people enjoy their alone time, too. Imagine having a rough day at work, finding solace in a bowl of bucatini all’Amatriciana, and Just when you’re enjoying a mouthful of pasta some idiot approaches you and says, “Dude, I just have to say — that Excel spread sheet you put together? Man, it rocked.”
You don’t want to play the quiet game? Fine. Proceed at your own risk. But what can you really say or do that will make an introduction worthwhile? Take a look at these four approaches, and remember, if all else fails, just finish your meal, pay your bill and walk away with dignity intact.
- The “Fan” Approach – Chances are they’ve heard it all before – from “Show me the money!” to “I’m Rick James, bitch!” Are you going to spot Anthony Hopkins and ask him if he’s enjoying some fava beans and a nice Chianti? Has Jason Biggs never been sent a complimentary piece of apple pie? The best you can hope from this is a polite smile, not an invitation to join them for dessert.
- The “Clueless” Approach – Nothing to do with Alicia Silverstone, unless she happens to be the movie star in question. No, this has more to do with seamlessly starting friendly banter with your dining neighbor, ignoring the fact that you know exactly who they are. This can be done by commenting on the slow service, the dishes you’re enjoying, etc. Of course this method only works if you are literally one table over. Still, what are you to gain? A mundane back-and-forth about stemless wine glasses?
- The “I Never Do This” Approach – Perfect for an autograph and picture opportunity. You probably “never do this” because you never stumbled into the scenario. However a chance for some “likes” on Facebook is too good to pass up so you politely approach, express your fanaticism and get yourself a forced memory. Congrats.
- The “Asshole” Approach – Only recommended if you have a deep-seeded hatred for the icon on hand. Now I’m not sure I’d have the balls for this, but ideally if I saw Justin Long or Ben Affleck (the actor, not director) in public, I would speak a bit too loudly about my disdain for a particular piece of their work. This most likely would not get any kind of noticeable reaction – except maybe open the door for someone else to try the “I’m Sorry About That Guy, I’m Actually A Big Fan” approach.