I’ve had the good fortune as a blogger to meet a handful of celebrities. It’s always a fun experience, and I always think to myself “Huh, they’re just like normal people!” But since I meet them in a press or media setting, it can feel staged, and lacks a bit of the thrill you get from spotting a celebrity “in the wild.”
Which is maybe why I was so. darned. excited about meeting Josh Duhamel at the Newark International Airport last month. Now THAT was a thrill!
My daughter and I were on our way home from New York City Comic Con, and had just passed the TSA agent at security. We were in line to get our bags and ourselves through the detectors when I noticed one man behind me fussing a bit over another man. Maybe “fussing” is the wrong word – he seemed preoccupied with making sure all was well with the other guy, are you ready to get through this line, let’s make this go smoothly, and so forth.
I happened to then look closer, and the man he was talking to was…JOSH DUHAMEL. Standing directly behind me. HOLY COW.
In case you need some background: Josh Duhamel on IMDb
Immediate thought: how is a baseball cap going to hide all that lovely (he is truly very lovely up close)? And: dang, he’s a lot taller than I imagined.
My daughter was in front of me, looking for bins to put her shoes in, getting her carry-on ready for the detector’s conveyor belt, etc.
“Maddy! Maddy!” I hissed under my breath. My daughter looked at me with a huge question on her face, while I ridiculously jerked my head backwards, trying to indicate Mr. Duhamel behind me. I was going for discreet, but I’m sure I was anything but.
My daughter thought maybe she was doing something wrong to get ready for the detector, so she frantically started looking through her stuff and asking me “What! What am I doing?!”
Finally I just said, as calmly as I could: “Josh Duhamel is standing behind me.”
Oh, how I wish you could have seen her face when she saw him! It was classic: she just froze, huge eyes, dropped jaw. It was so funny!
We giggled to each other nervously while we continued down the line towards the security scanners, and I couldn’t help myself – I *had* to talk to him.
“Hi there,” I said. “We were at Comic Con, but missed your event. Sorry about that!” (Duhamel was at Comic Con to talk about his new project involving The Last Unicorn.)
“Oh, next year!” he answered with a laugh. “Next year!” Then he pointed to my daughter, “I was wondering if maybe you were at Comic Con, ’cause I noticed her shirt.” (My daughter was wearing this cool Choose Your Own Adventure shirt from Out of Print Clothing.)
He then asked us if we had fun, and when we told him we were there for my daughter’s 18th birthday, he excitedly wished her a very Happy Birthday. The line kept moving along, and we made small talk about the torture of airport security lines.
I never once asked him for a photo, didn’t ask for an autograph. Although I would love to have proof of this encounter now, at the time, it just seemed impolite. I mean, we were technically trapped in a small area with a lot of people. Whether or not anyone else ever noticed him, I have no idea, but I didn’t hear anyone talking about him, didn’t see fingers pointed or anyone getting worked up. But IF I had asked him for a photo, drawn a bunch of attention to him, it could have been a mess. And he’s just a guy – just like any other guy (albeit with an assistant or an agent or a manager, or whomever the other guy was with him) – trying to get through security at the airport. I felt strongly about respecting that, and I almost think that’s why we had such a lovely time chatting.
Soon we were at the front of the line, and it was time for my daughter to go through the full-body detector.
Since she turned 18 during our trip, she had actually never been through it before (they allow minors to walk right through). Maddy was a little nervous about it, and just followed the operator’s direction. “You’re doing great!” Josh shouted to her. (Yes, we’re on a first name basis now. Maybe only in my head, but still.) I remember thinking in that moment: this is a stand up guy. He was funny and encouraging in a moment my daughter was feeling awkward about, which I thought was cool.
Of course, it’s always a mad rush to get your bags and things once you pass through the screening – by then, the bins are piling up, and I know I’m always eager to get my belt back on, my laptop, etc.
We separated from Josh at that point and went over to our own bench to get our bags settled. Which was when he walked by and made sure to wish us a nice trip. “You too!” we said, like it’s every day you spend 15 minutes casually socializing with a huge celebrity.
My daughter and I were on cloud nine for the rest of our trip. What a fun experience! And how wonderful that he was just so darned nice! Though it was at the end of an already fabulous trip, it became a highlight of our time together, and a memory my daughter and I will always cherish.
*side note: It was only after the whole experience that I remembered he’s married to Fergie. Which made the whole thing that much more exciting, because for 15 minutes, I was just *one* degree of separation away from Fergie. Ah!!!