As a journalist for for Entertainment Weekly, Benjamin Svetkey routinely met stars like Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry and Julia Roberts for dinner as a journalist for Entertainment Weekly. And he claims the experience practically destroyed him. For example: during one of these non-romantic meetings over food, Angelina invited him to caress her elbow and he was pretty sure that moment broke him for good. Because what is there to live for after an elbow caress?
Nora Ephron once famously complained that romantic comedies gave women unrealistic expectations about love and relationships. My job gave me a rare variant of that disease. It wasn’t rom-coms that were messing with my head but the actresses who appeared in them. For many years, until I figured out the difference between love and fan worship, I was so dazzled by the stardust being sprinkled in my face, I couldn’t see straight. Like Marcello Mastroianni in “La Dolce Vita,” I kept following Anita Ekberg into the Trevi Fountain, but all I ever got was soggy trouser cuffs.
Soggy trouser cuffs? I could make a dirty joke after that last line, but I won't.
Ultimately Benjamin almost let the prospect of watching famous women eat and/or seduce him keep him from pursuing love in his own life. Solution? Go on a real date with a starlet! Which is exactly what Benjamin did, though he refuses to name her. He says that he'd written a glowing profile about the aforementioned starlet and she — well, her publicist — invited him to dinner. It was a date date. When the starlet arrived, they ate and she "admitted" that she's terrified of cellphones, landlines and all forms of telephonic communication. Naturally, this guy believed it and didn't see that she was probably orchestrating the moment where they would never speak again. He tried to call her for a second date but, as predicted, she never responded. That was the reality check for poor starstruck Benjamin; he realized, "Hey, maybe these actresses I'm worshipping are completely strange?" Then he met his awesome wife, a completely normal civilian.
Sitting across a table from her, I got the same dizzying high that usually happened only with my celebrity dates. But this time there were no fake intimacies or phony familiarities. We just talked about books and movies and music and growing up in our different countries. Over dinner, she playfully taught me the Czech words for knife and fork and salt and pepper. After dinner, she taught me the Czech word for kiss.
He probably randomly fondles her elbow, just for old times' sake.
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