Like a book that's been talked about in my presence so often that eventually I have a half-certainty - backed up by a half-memory - that I've read the damn thing, I sometimes feel convinced that I've met you, celebrities. But when I press myself for a name, nothing comes: just a composite of cheekbones, hair extensions, fake tits and costly jeans. Haven't we met, celebrities? Aren't I marginally pretty and charismatic enough to have somehow slid into your sphere? Or do we just meet in daydreams and quasi-nightmares, the kind that you wake up from with a strange sense of dislocation, as if you've lived an entire separate life in your sleep, a life so vivid and satisfying that it must be true?
I worked for seven years in television, and even though it was documentary/lifestyle television, and even though it was Canadian television, that's still an incorporated canton of Entertainment Land, which is where you freaks actually live. I traveled throughout North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, to places so backwater that the closest thing to a celebrity was me, but I never ran across one of you. Once I spent an afternoon with an Austrian farmer who had survived an avalanche, and it turned out that he was a politician of some renown who had halted parliament over the right of farmers to sell unpasteurised milk. Then there was that camera hog in Florida who wrestled alligators for a living. And the sword swallower in north Vegas with horrible long teeth who pops up occasionally on Monster Garage. It turns out that I can't watch a sword swallower without gagging.
Most often I missed you by minutes. I would walk into a bar and find out that Judd Nelson had just finished playing Golden Tee and picked up a skanky blonde with sun-scorched cheeks before sauntering out. Or that Sting had been window shopping in the very mall that I passed through every day on the way home from school. You saw me coming and melted away, leaving behind knots of excited fans twirling in your wake.
And just for the record, John Corbett, you don't count. You were running around shaking hands and waving at everyone in the bar, to the bemusement of Bo Derek. You were so abnormally tall and gawky that I'm pretty sure you live on the tender leafy fronds that only grow on very tops of trees. That and single-malt scotch.