Life as a Celeb-Ra-Phobe

Once, I thought, that phobias were nothing to be afraid of. And then:

"Don't you know who the f**k I am?" Adam Ant said to me. "I'm Adam Ant! Now bring me my f**kin' steak!" And that's how it happened. Instantly, I became a celeb-ra-phobe. Celebrities scare me. Even reading People magazine can cause my body to break out in hives. Why? Because a man, who named himself after an ant -- mind you, yelled vulgarities at me.

At the time I was in the 10th grade working for a catering company that fed the semi-known bands as they came to town. I saw Engleburt Humperdink with his shirt off. Played Donkey Kong with Donny Osmond (he won). The guys from the Clash were just "guys" named Joe Strummer and Mick Jones that happened to play in a band called "The Clash." And even Michael Hutchence, the dead one from INXS, choked up a guitar pick for my souvenir collection (before he died). Famous people were ordinary folk. And then came Adam Ant.

If you can remember what it was like to idolize your favorite rock star when you were in high school, then this was how I felt about Adam Ant. When I met him, he was my teenage rock and roll God. Now I don't recall much about religion, but I'm certain that nowhere in the Bible, the Torah or the Book of Mormon does God say "F**K Off!" But this is what Adam Ant said to me, and that's how I became a celeb-ra-phobe.

I don't want to meet you, if you're famous. For instance, I don't want to meet Madonna.

There are two side effects to being a celeb-ra-phobe. The first: inevitably you run into celebrities. And the second: inevitably you make an ass out of yourself.

Case and point: this weekend.

Walking into a nondescript "no frills" diner everyone seemed to look like they were someone famous. Steve Lawerence and Edie Gormet appeared to be sitting by the window. Britney Spears was nearly washed up in the bathroom. Paul, Ringo and George were sitting at a four top. At any moment I felt like a non-existent celebrity was going to tell me to "F**k off!" My phobia could feel it.

When the Sarah Jessica Parker looking server came to my table, and said, "Are you ready to order?" I said, "No, and you're too good for Matthew Broderick."

She didn't hear what I mumbled and couldn't have known what I meant, so I tried to refocus my attention on a very not famous looking guy in the center of the restaurant to regain my composure. The person I saw had a look that was a cross between good, polite and nice. He resembled Scott O'Grady, the pilot that was shot down over Bosnia in June 1995. Now there is a hero.

When O'Grady's F-16 was shot down over Bosnia, he survived for six days eating ants and grass and sucking the moisture from his sweaty socks. As the type of person who will return a water glass at a restaurant if I see lipstick smudges on the rim, drinking an athletic sock, while running from people who want to kill you, qualifies on my list of celeb-ra-phobias as a person I don't want to meet. A hero. A celebrity. Unfortunately, he really was in this diner and at some point, I knew I would have to talk to Scott O'Grady. My palms began to sweat. Nervous laughter and snorting emanated from my nose. The panic attack was in full bloom.

As Sarah Jessica Parker put my food on the table, I thought my appetite was gone. How could I eat avocado eggs benedict, when the guy across the aisle once ate ants to survive? The hollandaise sauce, although delicious, couldn't hide the fact that my body was betraying the fighter pilot hero in this cafe.

Without realizing what I was doing, I put down my fork, toast and coffee and walked over to O'Grady's table. Forgetting his name I said, unceremoniously, "Weren't you the guy who was shot down over Bosnia?" (Note: at this point I turned both hands into guns shooting down imaginary aircraft in a restaurant.)

"Yes," he said, in the middle of eating his scrambled eggs and cheese.

"Oh, okay," I said. "It's nice to meet you." I stood, staring for a few uncomfortable seconds to see what he was eating. Then I returned to my table.

Complimenting a guy for getting his multi-million dollar plane shot out of the sky and recreating it in the middle of the restaurant, using my index finger as a machine gun, isn't the best idea. But at least Scott didn't yell profanities at me. Now, that's a true hero. A guy like Scott O'Grady dwarfs pop icons like Adam Ant. In fact, I bet O'Grady could eat Adam Ant alive. Who knows? Perhaps he did.

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