Sunday, August 5, 2007

Unidentified Guest at Party: appreciating anonymity

When People Magazine was in its infancy, one of their photographers was snapping pictures at a friend’s book party and I joked , “Everyone else here is famous and will turn up in the magazine, but this is your only shot at getting me”. To my surprise, I appeared in the next issue as “unidentified guest at party”, a status I’ve grown to value even more as celebrities are being afforded less privacy.

Not being famous is underappreciated, and it's not just because you don't have people picking through your garbage. Being a nobody allowed me to go to an Emmy award show in a $16 nightgown, bought after being repeatedly undermined by Beverly Hills salespeople who held back nothing when studying me in designer gowns. "Uh-uh-uh, you don’t want those arms showing,” one remarked. “That Oscar is not for you”.

“It’s an Emmy I’m up for, not an Oscar,” I corrected her only to be slapped down again when she explained she was referring to the Oscar de la Renta so unbecoming on me. I was again grateful not to be a public figure at the international premiere of an Israeli movie, when as the date of the star, I desperately needed to go to the bathroom while the film was in progress. This required squeezing from my center seat past the row of producers and executives. “Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me,” I whispered, switching to “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” for the return trip, which would have been more awkward and embarrassing only if I’d been Meryl Streep.

I was reminded today of the glory of anonymity because of Judith Giuliani, who’s either seriously flawed or been unduly attacked. Her defense was to say she’s new to public life and there’s a learning curve. The lesson here is we should all comport ourselves as if we or our spouse may become a presidential candidate and put us at risk of being the topic of a Hardball discussion, New Yorker profile or Vanity Fair dissection. For the moment, I’m taking great comfort in knowing that friends won’t be getting calls about me from Dominick Dunne unless after finishing reading the piece, I kill Judith Giuliani.