One hot summer when I was on the precipice of 15, one of my best friends had a run in with a celebrity in an unconventional way. It was 116 degrees Fahrenheit out (at least to the best of my memory) and we had volunteered ourselves to work at her parents’ rock quarry.
We dolled ourselves up in full make-up, to sweat it all off in the sweltering heat while transferring limestone rocks the size of our bodies from one palette to another. It seemed like hours before we decided to take a break in the tiny air conditioned office on the lot. We were probably working close to thirty minutes before giving up, but when you’re a teenager time seems achingly slow, especially when working in the heat.
As we walked to the office, we noticed a new pick up truck and a man with a Cary Grant like presence loading large rocks into the truck bed. He had peppery gray hair and was wearing a maroon and navy striped polo shirt. He had an air about him with a gracious smile.
When we stumbled in the office I asked my friend, “Who is that guy?” It isn’t everyday that a gentleman tucks in his shirt while loading rocks in his dress pants.
The man entered the office. Still I couldn’t place my finger on what it was about him, but he seemed to stand out. We all made polite exchange about how hot it was outside. Secretly I was thirsty but didn’t ask my friend where the cups were. Suddenly her dad with a huge smile on his face struts in and takes a seat at his desk. This wasn’t uncommon for her dad, you never knew what joke he was thinking of, secretly to himself sometimes. Her dad then looked over at her and asked her to get the gentleman some water. She returned with a tiny styrofoam cup full of ice cold water. I smacked my lips quietly and slinked off to get a cup after she had retrieved one for herself.
While her dad was filling out paper work he kept glancing up at her beaming with joy and then up at the new client. The older gentleman started inquiring my friend about the movies she liked to watch. At first we thought he was still making polite talk, trying to connect with two innocent teen-agers. Then he started getting specific with his movie choices. Finally he asked her, “Have you ever seen Legends of the Fall?”
“Well, I started to watch it at a friend’s house and fell asleep, then I started watching it at another friend’s house and fell asleep again,” she said honestly. (I can verify this, my house was one of the one’s she fell asleep at.) She had a look of unease on her face for a moment. We both thought for a moment this gentleman was hitting on her. We thought maybe for a moment he really didn’t realize we were teen-agers. We wondered why he was asking her very detailed movie related questions.
“Well BRAD’S my SON!”
I looked at my friend in the chair next to me and she managed to double over and fold herself in half, which is nearly impossible because she is only four feet and eleven inches tall. The man we discovered to be Mr. Pitt wore a huge smile on his face. Brad Pitt was clearly her celebrity crush and she had just had her breath taken away.
Brad was not my celebrity crush.
“OH! You play golf with FRANK!” I exclaimed.
My friend’s reaction was appropriate and was the response Mr. Pitt was expecting. My reaction caused him to contort his face into a quizzical manner. Then politely he said, “Oh, uh, yeah down at uh…” while imitating a golf swing. He remembered which golf course he played rounds at with our other best friend’s grandpa.
The arrogant, sassy teen-ager in me wanted to keep him on his toes and not let him get too carried away with his son’s celebrity status. I didn’t want him to get too big for his khaki’d britches. For some silly reason I wanted him to know, we knew other people he knew…you know, the little people.
My wile ways didn’t phase him. He looked to my friend and said, “Would you like to see pictures of him when he was a pup?”
“Yeah!” we both said excitedly.
To this day, I have never seen a father more proud of his son. He whipped out his billfold and it was very much a scene you see in classic sitcoms or cartoons. A whole accordion of photos fell out from his wallet. He had pictures of the whole family, but he specifically showed us Brad’s black and white portrait. I’m not sure if it was his senior picture, but you could tell he was quite young. (Young by our standards at the time!)
Mr. Pitt kept eyeing my friend, you could tell he always enjoyed getting a reaction out of his son’s fans. Honestly, I kept watching my friend too, it was fun seeing her take in this moment and enjoying it.
After the transaction ended, he kindly thanked everyone for their time, left his cup of water and drove off into the city. My friend immediately snatched the cup. We had previously made plans to go to a church softball game that night, so before going, she wrote on the cup to commemorate the moment she met Mr. Pitt.
A few weeks later our other best friend got into the car and found the cup. (This happened to be the friend whose grandpa played golf with Mr. Pitt.) Needless to say hilarity ensued when she read the date on the cup followed by the words, “Brad Pitt’s Dad drank out of this cup.”
The last laugh was on us though. Mr. Pitt returned to the quarry, purchased more rocks and asked for a message to be relayed to her through her dad. Mr. Pitt wanted her to find something for his son to autograph and return to her later.
What I remember most is my friend’s giddiness over the communication process. She had a pipeline to one of the world’s most successful, talented, philanthropic actors. She found the perfect thing for him to sign. She found a small, orange colored, polished stone. It was fitting because the run-in took place at the quarry.
After the rock had been signed and returned, she showed me the rock on the way to church. By the end of the church service, the rock had been passed around and had seen better days, the autograph was already starting to come off the polished surface. Later however, we found out, Brad had foresight. He knew something like this would happen. In addition to the rock, she revealed he also gave her one of his five-by-seven portfolio pictures with an autograph.
This was a moment clearly treasured not only by her, but by her family, myself and all of her friends. We were able to relive the moment with her from start to finish and enjoy in her delight. She truly is one of the sweetest people alive and is so deserving of sharing and having this experience with her family.
As an adult reflecting on this moment, it is wonderful to be reminded celebrities are people too, with families, loved ones and people who care about them very much. They are people, like you and I, with an accordion of photos in their wallet.
Have you ever had a celebrity run-in? What was something positive you learned from the experience? Who was your celebrity crush growing up?