Sunday, June 23, 2013

Checking Out

I arrive at the airport early. Mostly because I have nothing else to do, no hotel room to go back to, and I don't want to risk the chance of getting caught in an afternoon traffic jam coming back from the beach. It's only a few hours to waste and I can write or I can sleep or I can find a character among the people I'll be watching.

I decide to eat lunch, but can't find anything I want so I settle for what I already know. Mocha frappuchinos and overpriced deli sandwiches. In front of me are college-aged kids and behind me is the typical Beverly Hills yuppie couple, complete with their Paris Hiltonesque dog. They don't bother me - they look almost normal. I help them pick up the coffee sleeves they spill out of the container on accident and we all laugh.

Someone else steps in front of the line, gazing intently at the menu. He is serious and determined. Not unapproachable, but you can tell he does not want to talk. At first I stare a little, because I recognize him and yet I'm not sure. It is his eyes that confirm my suspicion, not anything else. I look away and go on with my day. I don't approach him. I don't say anything. He is just a person, like me. Trying to get a bite to eat. Trying to catch a flight. Someone asks for his autograph and I see him give it somewhat begrudgingly. She smiles gregariously after she gets what she wants. Thankfully she is the only one I see approach him. Everyone else pretends to ignore him or they don't recognize him or they don't care.

I don't flinch or feel anything when he stands by my chair, looking for a place to sit. He sits down, eats, reads his Rolling Stone, waits for his flight and then leaves. I am somewhat desensitized to seeing people from television and the movies in real life. I am used to having to treat them like a "normal" person. I have seen them "backstage." Some moody, some acting like the characters they play, some acting like they are above everyone else, some viewing their place in life as no more "special" than the rest of the universe.

I am used to walking among people who have Wikipedia entries and archives of interviews on famous talk shows, Internet sites and magazines. No one is the same in person as when they are performing their chosen persona(s). No one is the image you see in their pictures. People forget that the hype and the illusion are just that - hype and illusion. These are just people who have chosen a certain job. A job that puts them in the public eye. But when they step out of the eye's glare, all some of them want is peace. To be "normal," if there is such a thing. An invisible life, stripped of everything that's not real.

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