What makes a good celebrity sighting? One key ingredient, of course, is the celebrity. But almost as important is the setting. Bruce Springsteen at the next gas pump is a celebrity sighting. Bruce Springsteen at Philips Arena is a concert. Ideally, there’s cognitive dissonance in a celebrity sighting. Like the time my cousin Brett saw Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair–mortal enemies in the rassling ring–driving down the interstate in a convertible Cadillac, apparently having a big old time. The key dissonance, of course, is the simple sight of a person who supposedly exists in  some other plane just walking around doing regular stuff. The fabulous and the mundane mashed up against one another. That’s what celebrity sightings are all about.

For Audience Participation Friday, we’d like to hear about your celebrity sightings. Maybe you’ve kissed Willie Nelson. Maybe you’ve been in the same restaurant as Indiana Jones. Do tell. I’ll prime the pump…

  • This past Christmas Eve I stood behind Ricky Skaggs in the cash register line at Williams Sonoma. It made me feel good to know that no less a personage than Ricky Skaggs was as bad a procrastinator as I was.
  • Apparently Trinity from The Matrix brushed against me on a crowded sidewalk. I didn’t know it was her, but the person I was with insisted it was. I don’t know if this counts as a “sighting” since I didn’t see her.
  • I have elsewhere described the time Bela Fleck played the banjo on an airport shuttle bus I had the pleasure of riding.
  • I saw Ben Folds on a hiking trail. Even out in there amongst nature’s beauties, he had the same hipster scowl he wears in all his music videos. I appreciated that.
  • The very same day I saw Ben Folds, I also saw Nicole Kidman twice in two different places. It’s bad enough to be stalked, but to be stalked by the rich and famous is a little frightening.
  • Oh, I almost forgot. I ran into Angelina Jolie at the Air and Space Museum gift shop. At first I thought she was just a really pretty lady with an adopted Asian baby, but I noticed there was a palpable buzz trailing behind her as she went from aisle to aisle, and it dawned on me who she was.

Well, that ought to get you started. Tell us about your brushes with greatness.