I went to the bathroom with Danny De Vito last week. How awesome is that?
We went to LA for a vacation. When in LA your antennae are up for celebrities whether you want them to be or not. Everybody looks vaguely familiar, from the bus driver to the tailgater, and you find yourself wondering whether you've seen them in something before. The mystique about Hollywood is that you're never more than a few footsteps from a star.
We thought we might see George Clooney, Al Pacino, Matt Damon or Brad Pitt; we were on the lot at Warner Brothers Studios during the filming of Ocean's Thirteen. But no dice; the closest we got was Clooney's motorcycle. We thought we might get to talk to Charlie Sheen or congratulate Jon Cryer on his twenty-year anniversary of being Pretty in Pink's Duckie; we went to a taping of Two-and-a-Half Men. But no dice; the closest we got was about forty feet.
But Danny De Vito--I was within spitting distance of him. We went to a movie, and perhaps serendipitously, Danny De Vito got a hankering to see the same movie in the same place. And apparently he had too many free refills on his drink too, because we both made a beeline for the bathroom.
For the sake of full disclosure, I'll aver that we both averted our eyes. I didn't think it appropriate to tell him right then and there that I sort of liked him in Throw Momma from the Train, and he didn't seem particularly interested in signing autographs. So I settled for a nod of the head and a nice blog entry.
Danny De Vito played the Penguin in Batman Returns, the second film in the late-eighties/early-nineties Batman movie franchise. To be honest, he gave me the creeps. He was the child of aristocratic parents, but his awful deformities and animalistic demeanor embarrassed his parents to the point where they dumped him in the sewer. He was rescued and raised, inexplicably, by penguins. He nursed a rage against the fickle ostentatiousness of contemporary society that causes people to ostracize those who are different, and in his lust for revenge he terrorized Gotham City and made an enemy of Batman, who otherwise felt a certain solidarity with him. To be honest, Danny De Vito was the perfect cast; did I mention he gave me the creeps?
Later in my vacation, and perhaps more serendipitously, we came within spitting distance of a woman I haven't seen in ten years. Back then she was in the youth group I worked with; now she's in the same field as my wife. Good and devout, happy and hopeful--all grown up.
It's always gratifying to learn that the youth group kids you prayed for and lorded over grew up to not become resentful and detached. It's easy for the more socially awkward kids to do, frankly; a very common method in youth ministry is to cater to beautiful people with the hope that the different kids will want what they've got. I've been many things, but thankfully I was never so fickle or ostentatious as to ostracize young people who were different, and I've learned over the years that the different among our youth group appreciated that.
This young woman was one of the beautiful people; the comedian in the comedy club where we bumped into each other suggested that she probably didn't talk to me back in the day. But she did, and she did again last week, and in talking with her I learned that she's not in the habit of ostracizing people who are different, and I'm thankful for that.