I Am Not Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn

I don't remember exactly how the conversation got started today, but we were talking about brushes with celebrity and a friend asked me if I'd ever had any weird or funny celebrity encounters. I've had several, but the one I am about to share has stuck with me, if only to remind me how not famous I am.

I do spend a bit of time in New York and have lived in L.A. and have seen, passed and even met more than a few famous folks. Paul Winfield; Danny Aiello; Jimmy Fallon; Katie Couric; James Earl Jones; Chita Rivera and Treat Williams are some of the famous people I've encountered either in New York or L.A. But in the early aughts, I was working for the NYC Ballet at Lincoln Center, playing Louis XIV as part of their "Family Fanfare" educational program. I would take a very early morning train in, do two shows and then spend the afternoon either sleeping on the train home; shopping; wandering around the city or meeting friends for drinks in Chelsea, Soho or the Village.

One day, after the second show, I had time to kill before meeting a friend downtown for a drink, so I decided to pay a visit to the cafe at the Lincoln Center Barnes and Noble. I got a coffee and a pastry, studied lines for another show I was doing and then got up to head out to catch the 1-9 train downtown. The cafe at the Lincoln Center B&N is on the third floor, as are the Children's Books. I was heading for the Down escalator when none other than Liam Neeson came off the Up escalator, apparently desperate for a children's book of some kind. Our paths intersected and we did the right/left/right dance you do when you're trying to avoid a head-on collision with someone in your path. I think I said something completely lame like "Excuse me, Mr. Neeson" and got out of his way as he headed into the stacks in search of "Harold and the Purple Crayon" (I'm assuming).

Almost immediately after this, two young women came off the Up escalator. One of them approached me and said "Can I have your autograph?" I was stunned for a moment, until her companion yanked her arm and said "Not him, dummy! He's nobody!" The second girl then led her companion in the direction of Neeson, who seemed to me to be not in any mood to talk to fans. Of course, my first thought was "Well, neither are you, bitch!" Chagrined, amused and a bit confused, I made my way downstairs, marveling at the fact that I'd 'danced' with Oskar Schindler; Ethan Fromme; Rob Roy; Jean Val Jean and Qui-Gon Jinn, all at the same time.

If you're in New York and want to have celebrity encounter, I recommend spending time in Lincoln Center. ABC Studios are across the way and there are many shops where celebs spend their money.

More, anon.
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