Not too long ago, I ended a year long relationship with someone famous. To many music fans his name would be immediately recognizable, to most others the band name would be.
Disclosure: we have amicably parted ways and remain friends, and he knows I'm posting this story & is fine with it. No names or locations, to keep it all private. I just like the story.
We met in New York City. I was there attending to some paperwork, visting friends & some distant old acquaintances of my father (who'd passed last year & we wanted to share some memories). A friend of a friend ended up with an extra ticket to their concert and someone asked if I wanted to go. I've always liked their music, so I said yes. Well it turned out that these friends of friends were also in the music industry (of which I know next to nothing) and knew many of the people involved in the show.
It was what they call an "intimate" evening - a small venue, only industry folks and music insiders and those lucky enough to hang on (e.g. me) were in attendance. Since they rock pretty hard and I'd seen them at a huge venue before with their faces blown gigantum on the monitors far, far away, it was really odd to see them so close. The sound was turned down the evening was mellow, and this from a band that can be both really, really loud and humbly quiet.
I loved it. I'd never been to anything like that before. I'd of course heard music in small venues, but mostly struggling artists and I either didn't know the music or it was a cover. This was a unique experience.
Afterwards they came and sat in the audience, moving from table to table talking, drinking with everyone. I was surprised to find none of them smoked (since everyone else in the place was - makes me miss California!) Eventually they made it to our table and sat down for a spell that ended up being most of the night.
This man sat next to me, and I found myself staring at his hair, which was kind of funky, a litle bit like Pauly D's from that Jersey Shore show (what is that stuff??) only spikier and shorter. In my mind I was wondering how he got it SO stiff- it didn't move at all. It was pretty short but still it was funny. I kept glancing at it and he must have noticed because suddenly he grabbed my hand and smashed it on his head, which felt a bit prickly, and the hair bounced right back. I started laughing and he winked and said "trick of the trade."
For one split second, don't even ask me why, I was tempted to pretend like I didn't really know (or care?) who they were. But I didn't, although nor did I gush about them and fawn like a groupie. I was merely curious at this opportunity in front of me.
We ended up talking all night, and people started to notice. When my friends of friends who were now feeling a bit like my friends got up to leave, they asked if I wanted to come along. We all went to a late night cafe and then to someone's apartment. It was a small apartment and to get out of the smoke I went onto the balcony. He followed me out and we ended up talking - just talking about nothing and life and things - until the sun came up. The only time I've stayed awake that long was when we did a deployment for work and worked through the night.
He asked me for my number & said they'd be in town for a couple of days. For another second I was tempted to give him a fake number. First, like he'd call. Second, what was the point? He was in a famous band and lived in the States and I didn't and I'm not info fame or public anything but I figured the #1 would take care of any of those other ideas, lest I get any, thoughts anyway.
Well he did call. He called the next evening and we slipped right back into an easy going conversation with laughs and we were enjoying each other senses of humour. We went out to dinner and walked around. I am not that familiar with NYC and he lives on the west coast but knew more than I did. I discovered he knows of my ex-husband (who was in sports advertising) and I guess those worlds sometimes collide. He is divorced and has off-spring, older now. Aren't we all.
I got to ask him (gently, out of curiosity) a lot of questions about riding to fame and "Where do you go from where you've been?" and he always impressed me about how much he'd thought about it all. He was enjoying his success and how much their success had changed his life and the good and bad things that came along with it (the worst seemed to be, although he didn't say it outright, was that some friends & family seemed to think he owed them to finance their ventures or lifestyles or back them on something or bail them out of trouble, and from what little I saw of that it was people asking a lot, frequently, and he did help a lot of them, but also sort of seemed like an expectation on their part, which was oddly discomforting to me...)
Of course, some people on the street recognized him, and many did double takes while he'd walk by. He'd just sort of duck his head and nod. It seemed like a lot of people had the expression of "Was that him? Nah, couldn't be him. Wait, was that him?" but by that time we'd moved further down the street.
I got packed to leave the following day and he had sent me a funny gift that was waiting for me when I checked out. Just a stupid memento thing over a shared joke but I found myself chuckling. The guy at the counter then tells me that my room's been paid for and "my car" is out front. ??? I'm a bit taken aback by this. I ask who, but they wouldn't tell me. By this time, me being anal German about being on time and all, I knew I had to get going to get to the airport. So I hop in "my car." It's not a limo, but it's an elegant car of no discernible style on the outside other than being black, shiny and heavily tinted windows, but inside it was really posh. There were drinks and the driver asked me if I wanted anything. I shrugged and resisted the urge to yell "Hit it chaueffeur!" cuz' I'd always wanted to say that (not really, just found it funny).
When I get back to Munich, there is a message for me, asking if he can take me out in two weeks. I figure by this time he'll be bored and move on. I'm hardly naive and I'm sure he gets all the action he can handle and then some.
But he shows up. And he kept showing up, as much as his schedule would allow, for nearly a year. Twice he asked if I could "get away for a few days" and I'd find a first class ticket waiting for me. Once to Italy and once to Russia, both places I love. We acted like goofy tourists and with hats & sunglasses we blended in quite nicely.
Overall I have to say this - that lifestyle is really, really nice. Being able to do pretty much whatever you want whenever you want. You want something or something done, there are people around WANTING to please you, wanting to make it happen. Failure is disappointment and disappointment can mean being fired (not by him, just in the industry - or so I learned).
It's enticing. It lures you in. It's very, very easy to forget about having to work every day and even struggling.
I thought a lot about so many things. About fame, about life, about how random it all was, how it seemed pretty easy to get (they said they never, ever imagined they'd be where they were but it was "all good") often sheer luck and often lots of disappointment. About gold diggers and famewhores and why they quest for it. It's intoxicating. You can walk into any store and buy anything you want at any time. You can go anywhere in the world you want and be treated with defference. Wherever you go, people are (or at least fake) happy to see you and treat you like you're special. I thought a lot too about the privacy things - didn't affect me but how difficult and maybe even isolating a really, really famous person's life can be. And I realized that while "famous" people are, after all, just human, they have experiences that I, since I've never been there, can't really imagine.
Eventually we ended things just because we're at different places in our lives and I still have some things I really need to do, on my own. I'm a nomad, but I'm not a very good traveler. I prefer to get absorbed in a place, really get to know it, and then I start to get the urge to move on after about every 5 years or so. But that hectic pace of one country one day and another the next, even getting special service at the airports and such is really, really draining.
The price of fame. There is one. I am not sure what parts of the soul it sucks dry, but you can be assured that anyone's who tasted it would have a hard time going back to a normal life. It takes a strong person to see that that is all about - much of it being luck - and still remain human and kind.
But it's nice. I'll give you that much. It's really, really nice.