When Chicago minivan moms meet celebrity

Despite an almost 30-year allegiance to People Magazine and all things Hollywood, I remain largely unimpressed with actual in-person celebrities. Sure, I possess an uncanny knowledge of dating history, early roles, and current gossip on every famous person out there, but that’s beside the point. I’ve always felt that these folks weren’t truly for me. My real pals are a bunch of goofballs. They have changed my babies’ diapers. They have dropped off bags of kiddie hand-me-downs. And best of all, they have all sworn solemn oaths never to speak of that time I did that really gross thing while pregnant.

Somehow, I just can’t see Brad Pitt maintaining the same level of integrity.

And for the record, one of Brad’s earliest roles was a guest stint on “Growing Pains” followed by his short-lived Fox series, “Glory Days.” Like I said, my celebrity memory is practically freakish.

Over the years and through various connections, I have met celebrities and sports heroes. Perhaps because of their fame, these folks often put up walls. I am sure they have become somewhat guarded in the age of paparazzi and crazy fans. Lines need to be drawn. I try to remember that the super-famous can’t invite every fan over for dinner or tea.

But when some pals piled into my minivan to head out for a girlfriend’s birthday dinner, we weren’t expecting to run into a celebrity. And before we even ordered our second bottle of wine, the birthday girl leaned in:

Birthday Girl: Guys, guys… (whispering) …don’t look behind you…


Birthday Girl: (still whispering) Shhh. Now don’t everybody look at once…

Marianne: WHAT? Why are you WHISPERING?? SPEAK UP.

Birthday Girl: (Quickly, and only slightly louder) OK, don’t look, but the bad guy from “Ghost” is sitting at the table right behind us.

Naturally, five heads instantly spun around as if on a swivel to take a gander at Tony Goldwyn. I refused to believe it was him because “Ghost” was almost 25 years ago and the guy looked exactly the same. We all dove for our data phones to Google him. I then asked the waitress why he was in town. She jotted hastily on a note, and all I could guess was written was “SEQUEL.”

Birthday Girl: They’re making a SEQUEL to “Ghost”?

Marianne: How do you even do that? Patrick is gone and isn’t Demi busy doing “whippets”?

Birthday Girl: What’s a whippet?

Marianne: I dunno. I thought it was a dancing injury. Like whiplash.

All Five Minivan Moms: (nodding their heads in confused agreement). Ahhhh.

After another hour of discussion, it suddenly occurred to me that the waitress had actually written “Scandal,” the ABC show in which Mr. Goldwyn stars as the President. It is my mom’s favorite program. I needed to document our uncanny identification abilities for my mother — she’d be thrilled! Thankfully, we had our very own resident photographer, the talented Becky Healy, with us. Too scared to approach Mr. Goldwyn, there was a feigned “let’s take a picture of our friend Sara” moment. Becky altered the camera settings to capture our true target:

Another hour later, the group was emboldened by additional wine and also encouraged by the fact that we could now address the actor as something other than “Hey there, bad guy from ‘Ghost.'”

We went in.

Mr. Goldwyn was fantastically patient, good-natured, and hospitable to a bunch of minivan moms out for a rare night on the town. He rated as one of the top three friendliest celebs I have ever met, and he even wished our birthday mom a good one.

Tragically, that last round of Sambuca shots had slightly altered our photographer’s vision so that she did not quite notice that the picture came out a little fuzzy. She had forgotten to switch the settings back to normal from the previous “covert” shot. The result:

Becky calls this photo, “How I see the world after a bottle of wine and several shots of Sambuca.” The poor gal is terribly upset because she fears she “ruined” the big celebrity moment.

I, on the other hand, am eternally grateful.

Unlike Mr. Goldwyn, I have aged quite a bit over the last 25 years.

But in this picture?

There’s not a wrinkle to be found.

And next time, I refuse to be the designated driver. If I had been doing Sambuca shots, there would have been a picture of me holding up poor Tony like a wine carafe.

I guess you win some, you lose some.

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