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Hayseed in Manhattan

I’d managed, for six months, to live in New York without seeing any celebrities. Of course there aren’t that many this far uptown on the west side. And even though I like to look down on the whole celebrity-worship thing (“Brad and Jen: our Tsunami”) it still took me by surprise when Matthew Broderick ran onto the 1 train at Penn Station just before the doors slid closed. He’s much cuter in real life; that pale, sickly aura he often projects on screen was missing. He had on herringbone pants, a newspaper-boy cap, and a black quilted bomber with faded “Sex in the City” patches on the arm. I looked around at all of the New Yorkers studiously pretending not to notice him. The only other person looking at him was the mildly retarded man who sat across the aisle from me, and who said something to Matthew which I didn’t hear because of my iPod. Matthew sort of gave him a strange look and nodded, slightly, and I’ve decided the man asked him, “Are you Ferris Bueller?”

I figured that a celebrity sighting on the subway was worth extra points, and when I got off the train at W 23rd St I rehearsed how I would casually mention to friends at the book signing at the Chelsea Barnes and Noble how I’d seen a celebrity on the subway. Nobody was very interested, however, or if they were, they had long ago perfected that indifference necessary to young creatives in the city. Later there was dinner at the Viceroy for the author, his friends, and various hanger-ons (like myself) where I was seated across the table from the author’s agent. Wanting, naturally, to make a good impression, I dropped my celebrity sighting and the agent said, “Oh, you can’t swing a dead cat in the Village without hitting him and Sarah.”

Having learned my lesson, I was at a gallery party this weekend for the closing of a show curated by Choire and featuring the lovely, sad, funny work of Jennie. When a famous young novelist and retired-hatchet-job-book-reviewer walked in and kissed Jennie on the cheek, I pretended not to even notice him. I also did not stare across the gallery at him every five seconds thinking that, like Matthew, he looked better in real life. Since I wasn’t looking over there every five seconds I know I looked much cooler than I did just last week at the Viceroy. Coolness, however, comes in degrees, and I’m afraid that my humble Midwestern upbringing won’t allow me to reach its upper echelons. There’s always a bit of hayseed stuck in my hair, and I suppose I’ve accepted that as a badge of honor by now.

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