Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

A Stained Glass House

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

A Stained Glass House

Article excerpt

We were sitting next to each other at a Washington, DC, bar, drinking Jack and Cokes. I was a twenty year old from Iowa interning for the summer. He was thirty years my senior, my biggest celebrity crush. I had planned this evening for five months, doing everything in my power to meet him. Back then I was more likely to spend an evening highlighting the pages of a textbook than barhopping with a celebrity, but nevertheless, there I was.

"That guy," the cocktail waitress said after he walked away to use the men's restroom. "Isn't he famous:1"

I shrugged, as if I had no idea, as if I didn't watch him on TV each week. A moment later, the limo driver walked over and asked the bartender for a glass of water. I wasn't sure if it was standard practice for chauffeurs to hang out inside the bar with their passengers. I had never been in a limo until that night. While the driver waited for his water, I asked him what it was like chauffeuring celebrities. He said it was fine except when the egomaniacal ones had meltdowns.

"Like Fran Drescher," he said."That woman was the biggest bitch. I had to kick her out of my limo. She was just screaming at me and carrying on." He took a sip of his water."But this guy," he gestured to the men's room."He seems nice."

"This guy" was a comedian and TV host. I had watched him each week on the tiny TV in my dorm room while other college students were out doing keg stands. Unbeknownst to this celebrity, I had been planning this night ever since I found out we would be in Washington, DC, at the same time. I approached this goal just as I had tackled getting my summer internship at a nonprofit media organization. I made a to-do list.

I researched his likes and dislikes. I saved money to highlight my hair, get a spray tan, and buy a ticket to his stand-up comedy performance. After his show, I waited for him at the stage door to get an autograph. From the moment he walked over to me, I went on autopilot, displaying a confidence and assurance I d never had before. As he signed my copy of his book, I asked him to get a drink with me.

"You're sweet," he said.

A few hours later, we had walked to another bar and were seated at a booth in the back, away from prying eyes. Although I was only twenty, I had no trouble getting into these establishments.

"You'll get in if you're with me," he had told me outside the first bar, and he was right.

We had spent the evening talking about how he was portrayed in the media, how his personal life had recently been fodder for the tabloids. He asked me questions about living in Iowa. He was different than his onscreen persona, more subdued, more relaxed, but I still liked him. There was something attractive about his aloofness, about the way he hadn't flirted with me all night.

Around midnight, he looked at his watch, an accessory that probably cost more than my parents' car, and told me it was late. He was going back to his hotel suite/'I'll have the limo drop you off at your apartment."

"No," I said.

"No:1" he said.

"I want to go with you."

His expression was serious, as if he were afraid to misinterpret the situation. I held his gaze, playing the role of the confident young woman even as my heart raced. Finally, he patted my leg, taking one last gulp of his drink."Well, okay then."

He wove his fingers between my own, and we exited the bar. People watched us as we left. They looked at us with interest, and I was young enough to think their attention mattered. I was young enough to think the attention of strangers meant anything at all.

My friend Erin was once introduced to a man at a bar by a mutual friend. Her friend said to the man, "This is the woman I wanted you to meet. Erins working on her master's in film studies."

Apparently, the man looked Erin up and down as if she were a horse he was deciding whether or not to buy. He crossed his arms and said in a tone of disappointment, "This is the girl you wanted me to meet? …

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