Brushes with fame don’t always happen when you meet someone famous. When I studied in Poland way back in 1985, I had a group of people come up to me saying, “Annie? Annie?” I have no sisters named “Anne” or “Annie,” so this stumped me until one guy held out a pen and a slip of paper and pointed at my shorn copper hair and asked, “Annie Len-nox?”
Once the words were out of his mouth, he knew that I was not the woman he thought I was.
A few years ago, in the express lane at Wegman’s grocery store, the teenage clerk suddenly stopped scanning my toilet paper.
“Oh! My! God! You are….” Her voice went from deep to shrill, and I was waiting to hear what she was going to say. “YOU. ARE! Aren’t you?”
Was she questioning my being? I looked down at myself. No stain on my shirt. I didn’t look pregnant. So I kind of nodded my question at her and shook my head.
“YOU are Hilary Clinton, aren’t you?!!!” Oh, my God, just wait ‘til my parents hear!” And she looked at what I was buying, as if she would get more bang for her own bucks from the knowledge that Hilary Clinton had bought Coca-Cola, toilet paper, and milk.
She was almost shrieking, “Hillary!” People had turned to stare at me, and for a second I had a flash of what celebrity must be: a total lack of being able to buy toilet paper in peace.
It’s true Hilary Clinton had been in the area, and her picture had been plastered everywhere, but it is also true that she is more than fifteen years older than I am.
To stop the eyes and the shrieking, I lowered my voice.
“If I am Hilary Clinton, where are my bodyguards? And why would I be buying toilet paper and a gallon of milk? I am just a mom.”
“Hillary is a mom!”
I couldn’t argue.
“No, really, want to see ID?’
“You could have a fake.”
“Okay….hey, what high school do you go to?” She waffled a minute and then told me. Pay dirt! My sister teaches at that school. I asked “Do you take any languages?”
She must have thought it was some sort of interview, so she primly answered, “Yes, French.”
“Good, the language of diplomacy. My sister teaches French, you must know Madame G…..?”
“Oh, you kind of look like Madame….So, like you’re not Hilary Clinton?”
“Nope, sorry, I am just me. I am Madame’s younger sister, that’s all.”
And I left Wegman’s with my Coca-Cola, my toilet paper, and my gallon of milk, and I was very happy to be just me.