Alec and Me
For a crazed fan, meeting a celebrity can be unforgettable. That's not always a good thing.
Tonight's my date with Alec Baldwin. OK, it's not a traditional date, exactly. I'm joining a rabble of Alec fans converging on the Borders at Downtown Crossing, where he's signing his new book. But I'm different from the wild hordes. Maybe others, too, loved Alec pre-Emmy. Maybe they even own, as I do, The Juror. But did anyone else write a novel containing the ideal Baldwin movie role: a Nazi character custom-tailored for Alec's brutal savoir-faire? I thought not. Once I give Alec my book, the rest will be Hollywood history.
At Borders, I encounter my competitors, like the woman brandishing an envelope inscribed ALEC BALDWIN -- heart dotting the "i" -- at a store employee. Virtually everyone else seems to be clutching what look suspiciously like screenplays. I realize I may be lumped into the Demented Fan category. "Maybe we should go," I tell my wing-girl Kirsten, the Ethel to my Lucy.
Too late. We're herded into six lines, A-F, and handed leaflets explaining the Alec Rules. Mr. Baldwin will not pose for photographs. Mr. Baldwin will sign only his book. Mr. Baldwin hopes to meet everyone but cannot promise to stay more than an hour. All Mr. Baldwin's rules are subject to change. And Mr. Baldwin will not accept anything you give him. Nothing. So don't even try.
The lines snake into the stacks. It's very hot. The women behind me examine Alec's book, saying, "What am I going to do with this?" (A Promise to Ourselves is about P.A.S., Parental Alienation Syndrome, as suffered by divorced fathers.) A nearby man's T-shirt proclaims, "She got the ring, I got the finger." My makeup melts off my face.
Finally Alec arrives, as I surmise from people clapping, climbing the stacks, and filming him with cellphones. I hear the velvety Baldwin voice intoning, "There's no greater coward than an LA county divorce judge." The lines surge forward, and I see Alec, looking exactly as he does on-screen: large and beefily handsome, tan and rather menacing, flashing his electrifying, transformative grin. He makes hearty small talk: "You gotta kid?" he booms to one lanky young man. "You dealing with P.A.S.? Tough break. Tough break. Don't give up."
There are TV cameras aplenty and guards poised to tackle anyone handing Alec something -- a snake, a child, a novel. I'm toast.
Kirsten says, "I'll give him the book for you." The women behind us say, "He'll take the book, honey. You're blond. Go for it."
It's my turn. I stride to the desk, dizzy. Big smile. "HELLO!" I say. Alec looks startled but gamely crinkles the famous bloodshot blue eyes. "Who's this one for?" he asks.
"Jenna," I say.
"Like Jenna Bush, but better," I clarify, "because I'm a Democrat. Ha-ha-ha!"
He autographs his book. "I know this isn't allowed," I say, "but can I give you my book?" I hold it up. "See. It's published!"
Alec purses his lips gravely. "Send it to my publicist at St. Martin's." I'm being kissed off, which is totally understandable, but still I want to say, "Don't kiss me off, man."
"St. Martin's. OK," I say.
"You have a kid?" Alec asks, clearly trying to assess my position on the P.A.S. spectrum.
"Do. You. Have. A. Kid," he says.
"No. I have a book," I say.
"THIS book," I say, waving it. "This book is my kid. THANK you!"
A few stacks away, I pause to collect myself. I'm shaking, my face burning. "Congratulations!" says Kirsten. "You talked to Alec Baldwin."
"Whatever," I grumble. What did I think would happen? I know what it's like on Alec's side of the signing table, how hard it is when people give you things; when they think they know you and they don't; when you become a lightning rod for their hopes and expectations. Did I really think Alec would take the book, take me for drinks, take me back to my apartment? Well, yes. Each of us secretly dreams she's worthy of sharing the spotlight. The peculiarity of celebrity is that when I see Alec on-screen, he's speaking directly to me.
The woman who urged me on most approaches. I ask if she wants my book. She says, "Oh, no. Send it to him!" I say "Nah" and cross out Alec's name, dedicating my novel to her. Elaine.
Jenna Blum, who lives in Boston, is the author of The New York Times bestseller Those Who Save Us. She's still hopeful about a film adaptation starring Alec Baldwin. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.