PRO TIP: If you can’t be bothered to read 1,000’s of words right now, you can watch the video a few paragraphs below or listen to the podcast episode right here. 🙂
*Editors Note: Names have been redacted so as to not be a jerk and put this poor guy on blast.*
New York City, winter 2015. New York had just had their warmest Christmas in history, with temperatures rising all the way up to 72F. (or about 20C, for all my fellow Canadian friends)
Never mind not having a “white Christmas”, I was having dinner with my parents on a flipping patio on December 26. It was wild.
After dinner, my dad and I were in the mood for some live music, so we hit up our favorite spot, Terra Blues. It’s a fantastic bar near Greenwich Village that often has some of the country’s best blues artists performing live.
It also happens to have one of the widest selection of whiskeys I’ve ever seen.
After a pair of rare Tennessee bourbons, my dad and I settled in at the bar for the evening. This is Patrick in his happy place.
My dad is facing the entrance, while I’ve got my eyes on the stage. About one hour into a stellar blues set, led by a guitarist who appeared to be not a day over 18, my dad’s eyes navigate towards the door, and he says to me:
“That’s *Famous Dude*”
I turn around to take a look and, sure enough, it was *Famous Dude* himself.
What happens in New York, nobody cares
Now, I take after my dad in a lot of ways, including the way we handle meeting famous people. Of course, it’s always a surreal experience to meet a celebrity in real life.
We spend our lives watching these faces on TV and, when we encounter them in real life, it’s like we already know who they are. Obviously we don’t actually know these people, it just feels like we do. It’s a unique experience, and it’s pretty cool.
Where I take after my dad, however, is in how we react to meeting these famous faces in person.
While it makes for a cool story, I have no interest in running up to these people to introduce myself, or get a picture with them, or have them sign a body part.
If I happen to be put into a position where I can naturally strike up a conversation with them, then sure, I’d be happy to. But I’m not much of a fangirl. (except that one time I met PK Subban, the man is just great)
In the end, they’re still imperfect humans like the rest of us, and often times they’d just like to be given some space.
But this moment with *Famous Dude* in New York was… different.
As he walked into the bar, with his friend in tow, he slowly made his way towards an open table and took a seat.
His friend, who seemed to have a boundless source of energy, did all the talking. *Famous* offered the occasional nod and a word or two, but seemed to take no interest in the awesome music that was being played, and didn’t bother to order a drink.
He simply glanced around the bar, and sat there. It was as if he was waiting for something.
Now, typically when a celebrity walks into a public place and sits down, he draws all sorts of attention from everyone there. Photos, autographs, “I’m your biggest fan!’, that sort of thing.
But this is New York City, where everybody is nobody. It’s actually a big reason why I love NYC, it’s like a giant leveling of the playing field. Nobody cares who you are and what you do, they just want you to “Get Outta da Way“.
So, on that night in Terra Blues, *Famous Dude* waited for the fanfare to come. It never did.
But what made it a profoundly sad thing to witness was how badly it seemed he wanted it to happen.
He wasn’t there for the music. He wasn’t there for the whiskey. And he certainly wasn’t there for the company of his friend, whom he barely uttered two words to.
As time passed, his face slowly became more downtrodden and, after about 30 minutes of zero action, he stood up and dejectedly walked out.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that I know what was going through this man’s head, or what his motives were. I’m simply telling you what it looked like from my perspective.
Show me the money
What made this experience stand out to me was this:
Here is a man who has achieved more than many could only dream of. *Famous Dude* has had a very successful career as an actor, where he has garnered fame, wealth, and recognition from his peers.
People think these things will make them happy. Many spend their whole lives chasing them. “All I need is X dollars, and I’d be set for life”, they say.
*Famous* already has these things. But he didn’t look happy that night in Terra Blues. He seemed incredibly lonely, and searching for affection. Even if it had to come from complete strangers.
Would you feel differently if you were in his shoes?
Would you be content with the life you built for yourself?
What makes you happy? What do you want to do with your life?
We’re constantly reminded that the wealthy and famous aren’t any happier than the rest of us. They suffer from the same illnesses, addictions, and depression that we all do. In fact, their wealth and fame often intensifies those struggles by putting them all on display for the world to witness.
And yet, most people would gladly take the opportunity to be *Famous Dude* in a heartbeat. They still believe that their story would somehow be different.
Why do so many people accept what the world tells them will make them happy? Why do they ignore the evidence right in front of their eyes?
This is what I was thinking as I watched *Famous Dude* that night in NYC.
Or, you know, maybe it was just the bourbon talking.