I saw a movie with Christopher Walken last Sunday. He many not have realized it, but we saw Arrival together. I walked over from my apartment and settled into a single seat in the very last row (see my post on movie rules) with popcorn and diet coke for lunch.
With the trailers nearly finished, I assumed the stragglers had all stumbled in, and I relished the open space around me. No one to block my view or crackle candy wrappers at emotional moments.
So I felt frustrated when an older couple came in and ambled toward me just as the feature film began. They swayed a bit, disoriented by the dark, and the gentleman nearly walked into my seat. He paused in the vacant floor space next to me, meant to accommodate a wheelchair, and steadied himself on my seat. My irritation rose as my eyes did to take in the late-arriving interloper. And I found myself staring right into Christopher Walken’s face, topped with his signature shock of greying hair.
I silently forgave him immediately and only lamented the absence of a seat for him to take next to me. I have admired him since The Deer Hunter, and his comic SNL skits like Cowbell and The Continental have only further endeared him to me.
As their eyes adjusted to the dark, his wife (I assume) headed determinedly forward. “Over here,” she whispered. He redirected his unmistakable gait around me, and unwilling or uninterested in venturing as far as his companion, he plopped down directly in front of me. All six feet of him, plus the spiky hair. I was delighted. I wanted to lean forward and muss it like Jimmy Fallon did Trump’s. I wanted to tap him on the shoulder and idiotically point out, “You’re Christopher Walken!!!” I did neither. I texted my boys.
I, of course, felt we already knew each other because I’d encountered him several years ago in the Radio Shack near Sherwood Diner. The adolescent clerk didn’t recognize him, nor did he have what CW had asked for in his trademark halting delivery. “Check Staples maybe,” the clerk told him, not even looking up at the popular personality, who looked around, seemingly at a loss.
“But where…” he started.
I saw my opening and jumped headlong in, shaking his hand, gushing admiration and directions not only to Staples but also to several other places that might stock what he was looking for. The cashier had checked out.
“That’s great,” said CW. To me. “Thank you,” he added. To me. He talked to me. OMG he talked to me! I texted my boys.
I’m not sure what it is about celebrity that makes us – or me at least – feel differently about someone. I really do admire his quirky work. But I know for sure that if it had been someone else who rocked my seat and alit right in front of me, I’d have changed seats immediately in a huff of indignation over his rudeness. His stardom gave him a star pass.
Toward the end of the movie I fantasized about shaking his hand again and reminding him of our riveting encounter in Radio Shack, but before the credits rolled, he did too. He probably wanted to avoid avid adoring fans who would want to tell him how much they admire his work and remind him of the last time they met, you remember, in Radio Shack.