I posted this iPhone screenshot on Twitter a few weeks ago, which I now realize was basically analogous to entering an attention-seeking "feeling so excited about my amazing news!!!" or whatever Facebook status. But I hope you'll excuse me for that lapse in judgment when you understand the state I was in when I tweeted it.
So... the date was August 9. (I think that, primarily because this story is now known as "The Jennifer Westfeldt Story" among my group of friends, I always feel like I'm telling a ghost story or something when recounting it.) We had just finished a three-hour tech rehearsal for my play, which had been preceded by a three-hour regular rehearsal. It was raining hard, and I was traipsing around the East Village carrying a giant box of postcards advertising the play (I know I can often exaggerate, but this box really was giant... I was buckling under its weight and, like, stumbling as I tried to wield it). I was meant to drop off some postcards at various theaters on E. 4th Street: I'd dramatically drop the box on the sidewalk in front of a theater, grab some postcards from the box, hold them underneath my t-shirt (so they wouldn't get wet)... and then run inside and ask the attendant if I could leave them in the lobby. I resembled an overheated hitchhiker who had just jumped in a pool with his clothes on, and I was regarded with skepticism and pity by all theater employees I encountered.
After about 30 minutes of executing these drop-offs -- exhausted and drenched in sweat and rain -- I decided to head home. I hailed a cab (no easy feat while carrying 20 pounds in postcards!) and waited while a very striking, well-dressed blonde woman exited the taxi. We made eye contact and she said, "Hi," as I slid ("slid" makes it sound a thousand times more graceful than it was) past her to get in the cab. "What a pleasant woman," I thought to myself as I slammed the door, "And so pretty!" As the cab lurched forward, I watched her enter a wine bar and, immediately, it struck me that she was Jennifer Westfeldt (a.k.a Jon Hamm's girlfriend).
I've had weird "run-ins" with celebrities before, but this felt strangely... fated? I had just seen "Friends With Kids" a few weeks earlier and -- craving more Westfeldt -- watched "Kissing Jessica Stein" the next night. And I was carrying a box full of postcards advertising my first play, which is, in part, about the strangeness of celebrity. "If only I had recognized her, I could have given her one and invited her to the play!" I thought regretfully. And as I worked out in my head what I might have said to her, I shouted -- foolish and impulsive and dripping sweat -- "STOP THE CAB."
The cab driver pulled over and I handed him four dollars and I started shuffling/skipping (my version of "fast") toward the wine bar. I had no idea what I was going to say to her, but I felt oddly serene and assured. I arrived at the wine bar and plopped the box down on a bench. I peered in and, just as I had imagined it, Jennifer (who was sitting by herself with a glass of wine) looked toward me, and we made eye contact. But, in this moment, a few things struck me at once:
1) From her perspective, a sopping wet man with unruly hair and a giant box whom she had JUST SEEN GET IN A CAB was now staring at her like a serial killer from outside the wine bar she was in.
2) I was suddenly only like 85 percent sure it was even her.
3) There was no way I was going to be able to enter this wine bar and talk to her.
Her eyes sort of widened and she frowned, as if seeing a ghost (TWIST: this IS a ghost story, after all! I'm the ghost!). I just stood dumbly outside the entrance as she gulped the last drops of her wine, collected her things and marched out of the wine bar, right past me (avoiding eye contact, obviously) and down the street. I watched as she practically sprinted down 2nd Avenue while furiously typing on her iPhone ("Jon, change in plans!! i'm finding a new bar!," no doubt).
I texted my brother, and then picked up my box.