I'd first "met" him when I watched the old Law & Order reruns on A&E back during my undergrad days. I liked his character, liked his acting, liked him. When SATC came out, I used to watch it in secret, without the company of my roommates. I knew it was a sensation back then, and I'd written several essays on my own relationship to it, which was love-hate, at best (and "love" may even be too strong a word -- infatuation, maybe?). In fact, it partly inspired my first novel. Furthermore, my male character was more or less a younger version of Mr. Big, as far as looks and charm went.
Anyhoo, in 2000, Chris Noth was starring in a play on Broadway, Gore Vidal's The Best Man. A bit of unintentional art imitating life, it was about a presidential election that ended in a stalemate. My mom and sister and I attended a Thanksgiving weekend matinee. He was very good in that, too. At the end of the show, they announced that the actors would be in the lobby collecting money for a charity.
My mother and sister excitedly nudged me: "Now's your chance, Leese!"
"Nah," I said. "He won't be there-- they'll get the supporting actors to do it."
Sure enough, there he was: tall and towering and standing right smack in the middle of the lobby, holding his bucket. Since I only had dollar coins dispensed from the ticket machine at the train station, I was afraid he'd think I was cheap, only dropping a few quarters. Nevertheless, I plinked them in, touched his arm, and looked up (way up) at him.
"You were really terrific," I said. "Thank you so much."
He looked right at me and smiled this incredible, electric smile. As if he'd just met the love of his life, me, wearing a heavy parka.
"Thank you!" he said.
The power could've gone out and the sparkles in our eyes could have kept the room lit.
I wish I could end the story there. But the truth is that I spoiled the moment by hanging out, waiting for the rest of his fans to leave, and as he tried to hurry out of there, I blocked his path and asked him to sign my Playbill. He obliged, but was clearly impatient and this time didn't even look at me. It ruined the moment. I ruined the moment. And it meant nothing afterward to me that I had a Playbill autographed by Chris Noth. Big deal.
I vowed at that moment never to bother a celebrity for an autograph ever again. Don't get me wrong -- I've attended readings and waited on line for an author to sign his/her book, and I cherish those. But should I ever have the opportunity to meet someone in a similar way that I met Chris Noth, I'm simply going to thank him/her for his/her work, and maybe shake a hand. That's it. Because really, that's worth more, to them and to me. And they're just people like you and me.
So Mr. Noth, if by some miracle you happen to stumble upon my blog and this post, please accept my sincere apology for getting in your way that day. And keep up the good work.
Next post I'll tell you about the time I saw Jon Stewart in the Sag Harbor drugstore.
Say good night, Gracie...