To live in New York City means to encounter celebrities and rats of all backgrounds and sizes at any given moment. Whether you decide to play the cool girl and act like you’re unfazed by them, or freak the hell out and get doomed to potential lifelong embarrassment, everyone who resides here is bound to have at least one random celebrity encounter at some point.
Whether it’s rudely getting stopped in your tracks by Leonardo DiCaprio’s speeding Citibike around Astor Place—an area many celebs drop millions to live in, for some reason—as it was in my case, or batting eyes with Riz Ahmed in line at the coffee shop and proceeding to plan out your lives together in a matter of seconds, is entirely up to your luck levels. What are some wild, or wildly bland, celeb encounters you’ve had? Here are some of ours:
In 2004, the same year that the Olsen twins started their freshman year at New York University, my friend Elliot and I rolled into the Tasti D-Lite on East Houston. This was before East Houston was destroyed for condos. I was wearing a pixel-print camouflage Puma jacket. Standing in line for our low-cal fro-yo, I notice a hobbit-short woman in front of me with the most incredible dye job I have ever seen; it’s an EXPENSIVE dye job, with like 14 different strands of gold spun into it. I’m fixated upon it when a seemingly drunk NYU bro goes up to the dye job and says “Are you an Olsen twin?” The woman, who is like 4'11", says gruffly, “NO,” at which point I realize it is Ashley Olsen, star of New York Minute (a racist film about New York) and future fashion mogul. She then tries to pay for her Tasti D with an American Express Black Card, which as you may recall was a very big deal in the early 2000s. The young man working at the Tasti D kind of laughed and said “We only take cash.” Her friend paid instead, then she left. I regret selling the Puma jacket at Beacon’s Closet a few years later, because it was very cool and I want to wear it now.
Oh one time I was walking by NYU in the morning and saw this woman and we were the only two people on the street and she looked sooo familiar so I was squinting like, “Is that my professor?” but it was Naomi Watts and then I felt weird for staring at her too long.
Also, one time I was late to a party and Kim and Kanye were being photographed and my friend wanted to stop and look at them and I said no.
Last year I sat next to Karli Kloss and Josh Kushner at a brunch spot around SoHo and had no idea it was them. I just noticed there was a pretty white girl waiting outside the restaurant with us, and people went up to her for photos. I half thought it was some Instagram baddie that I just didn’t know about. It wasn’t until the end of brunch that the friend I was with was like, “Oh... that’s Karli Kloss and her boyfriend.” Oh, Taylor Swift’s true love and her boyfriend, the other Kushner. I was far from starstruck, but I found it pretty funny. Sidenote: Before I recognized who they were, I noticed that Josh fucking INHALED his food. Like, I’ve never seen someone eat so quickly in my life. Dude went to TOWN.
I was in line behind Ryan Gosling at a Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices at some point during the summer of 2009 or 2010. I was getting an ice with a friend and realized it was him after I heard the teenager working the counter say, “Oh my god. Can I have your autograph?” He signed a napkin, tipped something like $5, and moved on. I said nothing because you are supposed to say nothing in those situations. I later learned that he was on set filming Blue Valentine, which is why he looked like a hot mover, which remains extremely my type.
I also sat behind Drew Barrymore and the drummer of the Strokes at a movie when I was a teenager. Even then, I knew enough to say nothing.
My friend and i were going to see A Simple Favor, but we accidentally went to different movie theaters and missed the showing. So we decided to buy tickets to a later showing and get dinner in the meantime. I suggested Han Dynasty which was closeby; they had a 20-minute wait and my friend said we’d take a seat at the bar if it opened up. “I hate sitting at the bar,” she said. SHE WOULDN’T HATE IT FOR LONG.
So we get the call and go back and lo and behold, we are given two seats at the bar. My friend and I sit down and order drinks, when she suddenly jerks up in her seat. “Frida. Frida. Frida. Is that—” and here she begins to mumble as if not to move her lips too much, “—Bradley Cooper?” Before I can turn around to look, Bradley Cooper has walked past my chair and taken the seat directly on the other side of my friend. “Frida,” my friend repeats. I am trying not to laugh, which is what happens when I get nervous. “FRIDA,” again. I am so close to bursting out into nervous laughter that my eyes start to water and my breathing gets increasingly shaky. I think I’m going to fall over. I confirm it is Bradley Cooper. I can only see a fraction of his face without leaning all the way over the bar and risking looking like a total freak, but I know it. I know it in my heart of hearts, I am more sure of it than anything. Our food comes and when I pick up a dumpling with my chopsticks, I notice my hand is shaking.
My friend spends the next five minutes in total silence, texting everyone in her phone about sitting next to the future Oscar Award winner for Best Director. I try to engage her in conversation, so we don’t seem like two dumbstruck idiots, which we are. “So what do you think I should do about this guy?” I say, taking the liberty to conjure up a romantic interest out of thin air. “Totally,” my friend says. “Totally what?” I ask her this question about 10 more times before she finally looks up, annoyed. “Omg,” she says. Then doing the thing where she tries not to move her lips, “AreyouSUREitshim??”
This goes on for some time and Bradley orders. My friend and I finish eating and order another round of drinks, to delay our exit. My mom asks if I can take a photo. I tell her I cannot. Some other girls do get up to ask for his photo, and are rejected. I feel faintly superior to them, and then it passes, because I wish I could think one thing to say to him that would make me seem cool but I know there’s not.
In the end, he pays and leaves before we do, and we say nothing. Later, I think to myself, it is the luck of the draw that Bradley Cooper, an aggressively normal-looking guy, became BRADLEY COOPER, and it was the luck of the draw that we would share a meal with him on a Friday night in the East Village. We feel like fools, but fools who won the lottery. The rest of the night I feel tingly with some kind cosmic energy, and the next day, and the next.
I saw Ilana Glazer from Broad City walk past me in a Brooklyn cafe once while I was brunching. “That’s Ilana Glazer,” I said. My friends were like, “Yeah.”
Ok, your turn. Spill.