After my boss's pronouncement about the possibility of seeing Carol Burnett there, El Coyote immediately became my favorite restaurant. (Ok, so the cheap yet tasty margaritas and kick-ass green corn tamales didn't hurt either.)
Any time I went there it was all I could talk about. "I hope we see Carol Burnett tonight! My boss saw her here once!" I would gush to every dining companion who dared join me at this trashy yet lovable L.A. standby. I never did get to see Carol, but one time I was fortunate enough to be seated in the booth opposite from Ricardo Montalban. That's some pretty damn good washed-up star viewing if you ask me.
Over the course of my 5+ years in Los Angeles I became friends with a lot of "industry" people, mainly because the first few close friends I made worked in Hollywood. It was great for me to be around all these people while not working in the "industry" because I got all the benefits of rubbing elbows with the stars while not having to put up with any of the industry bullshit. (Save the fact that some movie or other would shut down all or part of our street about once a month for filming. L.A. people HATE that because it's more common than road construction.)
My friend Lex who lived downstairs from me worked at Paramount, so he would occasionally host parties where someone kind of famous would show up. My M.O. with these people was always to act as unimpressed as possible for fear of being seen as the total star-crazed geek that I was. One time I went on and on to Meri Stilpin from the show "Frazier" about my lower back problems until I thought she might want to kill herself rather than listen for ten more seconds.
(Note that I never use their real names in these posts for fear of being Googled. I am still in possession of a shred of dignity, although that is quickly wearing away.)
Sometimes this kind of nonchalantness could backfire. One time when my friend Beth was visiting me, we went out for breakfast with the gal who played Ellen Degeneres's love interest on her then-controversial TV show. I was kind of friends with Lisa already so I didn't feel I had to hide my admiration for her, and I think she enjoyed my pandering. (Who the hell wouldn't, I ask myself?) Beth, on the other hand, WAS actually unimpressed.
I asked Lisa what she had been up to lately.
"Well, I just wrapped another episode of 'Murder She Wrote,' she replied.
"Murder She Wrote???" Beth exclaimed with surprise. "Murder She Wrote??? Who the hell still watches THAT?" She was at that time a Ph.D student in English literature and as such disdained anything so vulgarly pop-culture.
"Beth!" I replied. "What is with these manners of yours?! Lisa is talking about her job, here! Show some respect, will you?"
"Well I'm sorry! But god, who even WATCHES that show? It's so stupid that even my MOM likes it! It's like mystery-drama for geriatrics!"
Lisa was shocked to the point of not knowing what to say. She just let out a little grunt of horror. "It was really fun to work on," she quietly mumbled.
"Well, I guess I just don't watch that much TV," was Beth's final comment on the subject.
"Oh my God, that's even worse!" I thought Lisa might possibly cry, although it was probably all just part of being dramatic. Actors are like that.
Our breakfast, delicious as it was, slowly disintegrated from there.
....to be continued......