My cigarette fell out of my left hand into the open cement ash can outside the front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I was facing the city. It was only 3:24 pm. A little over an hour and a half till I was finished working. I stopped in the special exhibition store for the Manet exhibit to say a quick hello to Sam and Linda. As I walked in the store on the first floor, Sam greeted me immediately.
“Yo, Cameron Diaz is in the Impressionists Exhibit.” Sam said.
“Really?” I asked.
“Yeah. She’s over there right now.”
“How do you know?”
“Larry from Visitor Services told me.”
Larry was usually well informed of the celebrities that show up at the Art Museum. He once gave John Landis a sample copy of one of his short films. He led me to Landis then and now it’s Cameron Diaz. It wasn’t hard to believe because she was in the museum this past summer when Justin Timberlake was in town performing or whatever he does. I don’t watch sports. Cameron was there filming scenes for an upcoming movie called “In Her Shoes” at the Museum the week before. I knew she was in town.
“Should I go over there?” I asked.
“Yeah go stalk her.” Sam said.
A stalking I went. As I walked into the hall of the impressionists another employee was on his way out.
“She’s in the Cy Twombly room.” He said.
“Cool. Thanks.” I said.
I headed toward Cy Twombly. Cy Twombly is an American abstract expressionist. Twombly‘s painting combines elements of gestural abstraction, drawing, and writing in a very personal expression. The room at Philadelphia Museum of Art has a room full of eight to ten foot paintings based on Homer’s Iliad. I heard that when Cameron Diaz was here last time she bought a book about Cy Twombly. I was impressed with her taste in the semi-obscure.
I made a pit stop to compose myself and take a piss in the men’s room. I felt really stupid. What was the point of this mission? I’m not a big fan of hers. She was in There’s Something About Mary which I rate as one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. She was in Being John Malkovich which was written by one of my favorite screenwriters, Charlie Kaufman. I could name a dozen more movies she was in that I liked but I wasn’t all goo goo eyed for her. Yeah she’s hot but she’s just another decent actress. I didn’t feel star struck. I was just curious. I was curious to see a big movie star in person. Wow. I have nothing to say to her. I don’t care about her autograph or anything. Oh well. I had nothing better to do except maybe work.
I walked out of the bathroom and back to the path to meet the “celebrity”. I see more and more Museum employees wandering around. I turned the corner and I hear laughter. Carrie and Ken were standing near the elevator pointing and laughing at me. They knew I was up to the same thing that every other employees in the modern art hall were up to. Stalking Cameron Diaz. Any way we justify it, we were still stalking the “celebrity”.
I pushed forward and got near the Cy Twombly room. I saw the security guard in his place at the entrance to the exhibit. As I walk in I see her. Ccameron Diaz in person. In the flesh. Right up close. She was tall. She was probably five foot ten inches or so. Skinny. She’s looked good. She wasn’t just another hot chick that I’ve seen in the Museum. She’s even prettier than on screen. I was expecting her to be shorter and less attractive.
I look at her briefly and then walk into the room filled with these giant paint splashed scribbles that I’ve heard many say “My two year old could paint that.” about. They didn’t though. I am the only one in this room besides her. I was momentarily convinced that she doesn’t suspect that I am stalking her. I thought I was pretty smooth for about ten seconds. I knew she knew I was in there to gaze at the celebrity like one gazes at an accident on the side of the highway with morbid curiosity. I could feel her look at me and then look at the painting that I am looking at. I try to focus on the art and not let her know that I am focusing on her. Why was I doing this? It was stupid. I felt so dumb. I had no desire to talk to her or meet her. I felt like all of the other stalkers. I was like all the other stalkers. I imagined that she didn’t want to be bothered while she was looking at art. I wondered what it felt like to be that recognizable and have people following you around. Nobody talked to her from what I heard. She must have known. Is it worse to acknowledge you know her or better to pretend when you know she knows? She walked out without a word or a smile between us.
I waited a few minutes and then left. I didn’t want to have to get caught behind her so I went into the Duchamp section to avoid her. She was there with a couple of friends. I looked at a couple of my favorite pieces and left.
I was embarrassed. I felt stupid. Wow. I saw Cameron Diaz. I can’t wait to tell my friends about it. Isn’t it great? Aren’t you impressed? What’s that? No, I didn’t talk to her but I saw her. Yippy. I stalked down and saw a real life “celebrity” at work. Don’t you think I am great? Aren’t you impressed with me? Don’t you think I am a lot cooler now?
I was actually more impressed with Cy Twombly.