The shouts and intrusions started to wear on me, which prompted the quick Oakley sojourn and another tactical shift: ignoring the shutterbugs and going about my business, such as it was. Never have I focused so intensely on the task of walking in a straight line. To see if anyone was still paying attention, I pulled out my phone and spoke into it all important-like. I wondered who the onlookers thought I was chatting with. My agent? Mark Wahlberg? Judging by the crowd’s response — the chroniclers of my vast celebrity had expanded to include two video documentarians — they still seemed to care.
Visit www.celeb4aday.com to book your own celebrity experience.
And then, improbably, stuff got real. Roberts and I had agreed that my Celeb 4 A Day experience would end when I steered the photographic entourage toward another Duane Reade. Worn down by the heat, I didn’t try to beat a stoplight that was in the process of changing — and that’s when a final few fans cornered me. I couldn’t move in any direction, at least not without drawing physical contact or getting hit by a bus. That sensation of intense claustrophobia stayed with me long after I returned to my normal existence as a dopey, suburban dad. Bieber, man, I feel your pain.
This is the point in the story where i’m supposed to pull back and pontificate about America’s fascination with celebrity; about how being in the presence of Someone Who Matters is emotionally validating; about how a memento of that encounter posted on Facebook is the social currency of our time. But really, the genius of Celeb 4 A Day isn’t that it tells us something about ourselves. It’s that it happens to be fun and revelatory at once and that Roberts and her crew provide an unexpected and delightful degree of verisimilitude.
I experienced this firsthand during my final moments as a fake celebrity. Before I entered the pharmacy, I turned to the photographers and asked, “Got what you need?” Roberts said she wanted another shot or two. Somewhat irritated, I demurred: “Come on, I’m picking up a prescription.” It was then that Roberts leveled me with a line worthy of the sharpest National Enquirer lensperson: “I thought the judge told you no more prescriptions.”
I didn’t need to hear the cries of, “Ohhh!” to know that a killer burn had been delivered. I posed dutifully. Click, click.
New Jersey–based writer and frequent American Way contributor LARRY DOBROW has no idea when he’ll be comfortable in front of a camera again.