Cameron Diaz and Me

THE FIRST PART has long been known:

Saw Cameron Diaz on her way to the gym. I was wearing the shirt I’d slept in, walking my dog, holding a bag of shit.

Now, here’s the rest of the story:

My dog, a mangy old rescue Shih Tzu named Emile, had finished his business and was investigating a sidewalk gum wad. He loved sniffing filthy things on the street, and Midtown Manhattan was always happy to oblige. As was my routine, I monitored his activities closely, partly out of horrified fascination, and mainly to make sure he didn’t choke or poison himself.

Typically this activity required my full attention, or at least that part of my attention that wasn’t lost contemplating family and business anxieties, petty resentments, and the recollected snippets of imagery, music, and dialogue that pass for thought. But today, for some reason, I looked away as Emile tackled an apparently sumptuous abandoned cigarette filter. As if spellbound, my eyes crossed two streets to hone in on a couple that was briskly heading my way.

The man in the couple wore gym clothes, and seemed to be speaking quickly, with huge animated arm gestures. But it wasn’t the man who had made me look up from my dog’s debauchery.

At least a head taller than her companion, wearing skimpy gym clothes, the woman appeared athletic and radiant, even from this distance—too far away to see faces. Instead of moving on to discourage Emile from his sidewalk shenanigans, I stood rooted to the spot, waiting as the couple came closer and closer. A fancy gym was nearby, I knew—not from going there myself, but because a friend did, and it was a magnet for activity on this block.

As the couple came closer, the woman lost none of her allure, and I became self-conscious about staring. Not because I felt fat, old, dirty, and tired—a middle-aged man holding a bag of shit, walking an ailing Shih Tzu with a penchant for street turds and candy wrappers—but because it’s rude to stare. It’s rude to stare at the unfortunate: their hand-me-downs, their hopeless haunted eyes. It’s also rude to stare at the genetically blessed, the gorgeous, the toned, the fertile, famous, and wealthy. I still had not recognized Cameron Diaz, but she radiated fabulousness.

So I did what any eldest son raised by my late mother would do: as the couple came closer and closer, I focused my attention on the man. So as not to make the lady uncomfortable, you see. (From this fragment of mental DNA, you should be able to reconstruct me completely.)

So here they were, now on my block, now halfway up the block to me, now almost within arm’s reach.

And there I was, with my dog and my shit bag and my eyes firmly trained on the male half of the couple.

Who was either a gym buddy or personal trainer but definitely not a boyfriend, I gathered from their body language with respect to each other, and especially from his smiling quick speech and big sweeping arm gestures, which vibed “consultant meeting an important client” and perhaps Italian-American and maybe also gay. If I was right about that last bit, my staring at him for the past five minutes didn’t worry me, but it might be freaking him out. At any rate, that was my cover story to myself for what I did next.

For the couple was now an arm’s length away, about to pass out of my sight forever. And while I had been working hard to respect the lady by not telegraphing waves of hopeless lust, if I didn’t steal one more glance right now, I would never see her again, never even know what she really looked like up close.

My eyes slid toward her of their own accord, and as they landed, I saw that her smiling, knowing, superior but also playfully flirtatious eyes were locked on mine. She had been watching me studiously avoid looking at her, waiting for the inevitable collapse of my will, the moment when I could no longer resist. “Busted,” her eyes said. “You didn’t fool me for one minute. Yes, it’s me. Nice meeting you. Bye.”

And then, with a taunting but also pleasing smirk, she was gone. And two things hit me:

  1. That was Cameron Diaz.
  2. And she can read minds.

37 thoughts on “Cameron Diaz and Me

  1. That has been my personal all-time favorite tweet for some time. I loved the expanded version just as much!

  2. She gave me the same smile inside the (same) gym as I did the same not looking/looking thing from the rowing machine.

  3. I hate you. Not because you saw Cameron Diaz up close and personal, but because you can write like I wish I could write.


  4. I reckon the roles were reversed. As Cameron’s eyes connected with your’s she answered “Yes it is, I thought that was Jeffery Zeldman, he looks strange without a beanie hat… shit, he’s seen me!”

  5. She gave me the same smile inside the (same) gym as I did the same not looking/looking thing from the rowing machine.

    Must be normal life for her. I had a similar, although far less erotically charged, eyeball connection game with John Travolta in an elevator once.

    And by erotically charged, I mean for me.

  6. Having been both tweeted and blogged the next step in web based storytelling for this event is obvious: rage comic.

  7. Man, I’m such a nerd. If I’d see a scene like this on the street…well, I’d recognize and stare at Jeffrey Zeldman, not certainly Cameron Diaz.

  8. Nice…. I suppose it never occured to you to place the stated ‘shit bag’ in something less conspicous? No of course not, since you usually don’t have chance meetings with well-toned muscular starlets, with beaming affection for web workers and internet gurus, lol.

    You could of asked her, just to throw her off track… if she’ld cared for a chocolate brownie, since of course she would refuse out of politness… oh gawd!

    Great story!

  9. If anybody still needs a proof that 140 characters can’t replace a real narrative – here it is.

    It’s amazing how the center of gravity has moved from “shit” to an ephemeral connection between human beings.

  10. Some years ago I had a similar awkward moment when dining in a hotel in Scotland: the maitre’d had placed Michael Keaton and companion in the middle of the restaurant and he looked very uncomfortable with the attention.

    And then my father started humming the Batman theme.

  11. “contemplating family and business anxieties, petty resentments, and the recollected snippets of imagery, music, and dialogue that pass for thought.”

    …genius insight, and articulation.

  12. I have had almost exactly the same experience with Bret from Flight of the Conchords. It was awesome. Erotically charged doesn’t even begin to sum it up.

    Thanks for the great post.

  13. Of all the celebrity sightings and run-ins, yours is made more interesting with the fact that you’re an entertaining writer. I await your run-in with Schwarzenegger.

  14. She’s on my “freebie” list with the wife — not in the normal sense, but just for a night out at the ballgame and beers, because I think she’d be a blast to hang out with.

  15. You should have handed her the bag of shit and said “Here…now YOU can experience Bad Teacher.

  16. Masterful storytelling, yet again.

    I would like to request that you take a year off from the internet, travel the globe, and write a book’s worth of stories about it.

  17. Thank goodness I listen to the Big Web Show because it reminds me to come over here and read your entertaining stories. :)

    You shoulda winked at her and thrown her off.

  18. Good story, I am grammatically reminded of DF Wallace by the long meandering sentence containing the phrase “with respect to” (although he would have written w/r/t if I’m recalling correctly – it’s been a couple of years.)

    Stories are so much better than tweets!

  19. Crikey Zeldman,
    you should have tripped her up and then gotten sued by her for cracking a celebrity fingernail or two, then you’d have had much more time in court to look into those holyshould orbs that emanate more self importance than an entire Inuit community.

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