Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This is Not Your Mother's Celebrity Sighting...

Well, actually it is.  If you happened to be in my local Target this morning (which I'm guessing you weren't), you would have seen me skulking through the aisles, hunched over my shopping cart, whispering into my cell-phone.  I was talking to my mother. 

"Mom!  You won't believe who I just saw in Target!'s Maggie Horton!  Yes!!!  Maggie Horton!  Yeah, she's buying paper towels.  I think she's with her mom."  

For those of you who don't know (and I can only imagine that most of you don't, and that's something you can feel good about), Maggie Horton is a character on the soap opera Days of Our Lives.  The character has been on the show since the 1970's and My mother has been watching Days since she was pregnant with me.  It's hard for me to recall a time in my childhood when there wasn't a soap opera on the television during the day.  If I was at home, my mother was watching Days of Our Lives and the now defunct Another World.   If my grandmother was babysitting me (not the gardening, crocheting, painting one), it was Ryan's Hope, All my Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital.  I learned everything I needed to know about life (you know, love, betrayal, manipulation, sighing heavily while walking across the room and twirling angrily before speaking, and of course kidnapping, mystery islands and your garden variety demon possession) while watching soap operas with my mom or Grammy.  

Luke and Laura?  Bo and Hope?  They were my Romeo and Juliet or Heathcliff and Catherine before I was old enough to read the classics and seek out those more sophisticated archetypes of romantic love.   Nevermind the fact that in the 70's and early 80's great soap opera love affairs began with some kind of rape or other form of victimization.  What the hell was that about? Awesome role-modeling for the younger generation. 

I also remember images of soap operas at my grandmother's house being interrupted by those of a group of men, racing to huddle around a president, the sounds of shots firing and cameras flailing, not knowing on whom or what to land their focus. And the image of blood on a sidewalk, somewhere in Washington, DC (the exact sidewalk, incidentally that I would walk on nightly, years later, on my way to the gym). It's bizarre to me that the shooting of President Reagan is melded into the same time and space in my childhood brain as the intrigue and betrayal twirling through Pine Valley and Salem.  

College was the last time in my life that I really gave soap operas any of my time.  I can admit to scheduling classes my junior year to fall so that I could be in my dorm during Days of Our Lives and in graduate school I got completely hooked on General Hospital.  But I started my career in the days before the DVR, and it never seemed worth my time to record the shows on my VCR.  Thank goodness, I had broken the chain.  I was not going to be one of those women who was a slave to "my soap".  

And I'm not.  Do I have a vague idea what's going on on Days of Our Lives right now? Sure.  The great joy about soaps is that you can turn one on after not having seen it for a decade, and the same characters are doing the same things they were doing the last time you watched, they look exactly the same (even if they have kids who are now somehow your age), and you can almost anticipate the next scheming, psycho line of dialogue they're going to start spewing about thirty seconds after you've turned on the TV.  Yes, there are days when I am so spent by 1pm that all I can do is flip to the continuous cheese supplied by the soaps.  It's comforting.  But it's rare.  

But I digress--let's get back to me stalking Maggie Horton through the paper goods aisle of Target.  

I have seen a lot of celebrities in my year in Los Angeles.  My favorite by far was my sighting, an brief stalking of Matthew Perry.  Husband and I also "squeeeeee'd" a little bit when we saw T.R. Knight at the Kathy Griffin show last fall, and standing behind Jenny Garth on while I wait for her to order her coffee at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf has been a pretty regular part of my life here.  I have a strict "do NOT speak to the celebrities" policy.  To the extent that when Julie Bowen started talking to me one day at the park last summer, gave me her number and said that we should get our kids together for play dates, I never once made any comment about how I LOVED her as Carol Vessy in Ed or asked her what it was like working on LOST.  I simply never called---because I would hate for her to think that I was just trying to be friends with an actress.  So.  I've never approached an actor or even acknowledged that I recognized them.  

My mom's not like that.  This fall she came to visit us and on a trip to the farmer's market, she recognized Alimi Ballard from her favorite show, Numb3rs, selecting pluots at our favorite fruit vendor.  To say that she "approached" him is like saying that a moth "approaches" a bright light--more like careens wildly to that which attracts it until contact is made.   He was so gracious and sweet, and my mom was adorably smitten and unabashed by her own temerity at talking to a total stranger (let alone a HAWT one) like he was her best buddy.  I was equal parts impressed and mortified by her ability to do what I had not been able to bring myself to do when seeing someone of any degree of notoriety.  

So when I saw Maggie Horton trolling the aisles of MY Target (with her mom, no less!), and I called my mom to tell her, she whispered back to me (I have no idea why she was whispering all the way over in South Carolina), "Go talk to her!!! Tell her your mother has been watching her for 30 years!!!!  Tell her to watch out for that Lucas! She's got her hands full with him!"   I told Mom I'd call her back and hung up.  

I followed Maggie Horton (whose real name is Suzanne Rogers) to the aisle of hair dyes, took a deep breath, tried to channel my mother's audacity and squeaked, "umexcuseme, do you play maggie horton on days of our lives?", feeling like the biggest loser on the face of the Earth.  People were watching me approach this woman---ohmygod, I suck!!  As soon as she smiled and acknowledged that yes, indeed she was Maggie, my nervous energy bubbled over and I gushed about how my mother was a huge fan, she's been watching Days since she was pregnant with me, I grew up watching it and OMG, we're such big fans!!!!  (where the hell did that come from?! I'm a lunatic.  That's the only rational explanation). 

Thankfully, she was so nice and sweet and when I asked if I could take a picture of her with my phone, she insisted that I give the phone to her mom to take the picture so I could get in the shot with her.  

Let me ask you this, internet.  When you go to Target, to what degree would you say you are "camera ready"?  Because, my friends, I go to Target looking much the way I'd look walking into my bathroom first thing in the morning (except with all of my clothes on).  To say I wasn't "camera ready" at the time is like saying that falling out of an airplane to the ground below "might sting a bit".   But Maggie Horton/Suzanne Rogers?  To. The. Nines.  Gorgeous.  Ready for her close up.   

But what do you say when soap star royalty (okay, fine; she's no Deirdre Hall, but close enough) tells you to hand her mother your phone and get in the shot?  You do it, people.  You just do.  
Fortunately, her mother is not well-versed in the ways of the iPhone camera and none of the pictures including me are remotely usable.  What a shame.  So this is the picture I got for my mom.  Hope she likes it.  



Sarah said...

I love Days and have been watching since 1981. I also loved Another World-- Mac and Rachel? And then Rachel and Carl? Cass and Felicia? If these are not classic archetypes, I don't know what to think!

Anywho-- wow-- she's beautiful in real life, and good for you!! Who knows how many soap stars you can accost in your new town :)

Amy said...

I am dying that of all the celebs you have encountered, SHE is the first one you approach! And likely your last, considering your impending move. :)

FemaleDrama said...

I'm so glad I have this to read at work when I should be doing actual work!! I go completely mute when I see a star and I'm not sure that's much better!!

Emi said...

Ok so ironic that you spoke to someone your mom was crazy about not someone you were crazy about.. the next one heg your inner crazy and go for it :-)

Emi said...

"hug" that is

OppositeOfOops said...

I thought I was the only one who uses the "Miss Chanandeler Bong" reference. Priceless!