Monday, July 30, 2007

Steve Martin Weds

Steve Martin got married this weekend. Good for him - good for his bride. I mean it. If Steve's happy, I'm happy for Steve. He has enriched my life and I am grateful.

But I should have acted sooner - maybe asked him out a few years ago. Of course I never did since we don't actually live in the same universe. But, technically, I could have, since I did meet him once (do I detect a pattern here, or do all LA natives have these stories?).

Chances are I met Steve Martin before he started seeing Anne Stringfield. But even if I had asked him out for enchiladas, would it have lasted? Maybe we'd have gone out a few times and he would have picked up a copy of the New Yorker after dessert and coffee and seen Ms Stringfield's column. Perhaps as I mused into the the essence of humor in the human soul, he would have become spellbound by her writing and married her anyway. Fate plays out the way it has to and that's that. Even if it twists, it is written once played.

My meeting with Steve Martin was, for him, a fulfillment of a contractual obligation with the publisher. For me it was a lapse into a world poplulated by beings from the universe of goofy fans on tourships to the magic dimension, hoping for a feeling of befriending in an impossible social construct. So we giggle or wave or mutterbabble - or offer a simple thank you.

I went with a friend to the UCLA Festival of Books. He had tickets to see Steve speak in one of the big brick auditoriums. At the event, a repetition of women my age stood in line to ask Steve questions they didn't really need to ask so they could declare their undying love and he could gracefully avoid cringing.

After the lecture, my friend left but said, "get an autograph. Why not?" So, I stood in a long line under the trees to wait for Steve. My objective was to have him sign my copy of Picasso at the Lapin Agile (while being sure to let him see I'd also bought Shopgirl, the book he was there to promote). The line took about an hour and a half. I would never sell the autograph, so why was I waiting? To see Steve Martin. Why? Because he's Steve Martin and I can.

Steve was set up at at table under a tent canope. People could approach one at at time. At about 8 feet away a nice lady in a suit would ask them to wait. She would gesture for them to come to the table just after the previous person had left (deft mob anti-coagulant tactic). As the person before me fawned, Steve looked to see who would approach next. He swung his head slowly, eyes not connecting, a soft gaze, to size me up. Female. Mid thirties. Tall. No knife.

The distant look in his blue eyes and the way he swung his head - and I mean this with the utmost respect - reminded me of a cow in a feed slot. He didn't eschew the task, he just didn't savor it.

So when my turn came I suppose he looked to see who was after me because whatever connection I had started to sense was now gone. His words were kind, respectful and rote. I put his play before him and said, "Thank you for everything." He delivered a merry, "well, thank you for coming!" I said, "of course!" and knew to quickly move on. He was a perfect gentleman meeting strangers who thought they knew him. But none of us did.

(Anne Stringfield does.)

No comments: