Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Annie Lennox.

It's early Saturday evening in London - June 2008. Husband and I have been touristing pretty hard all week, and so decide to grab some nigiri at a Japanese restaurant in Notting Hill before retiring early. And when I say small, I mean small. Room for maybe 20 people tops. We walk right in - no wait for a table - and seat ourselves at a two top, right next to a couple with a teenaged child. I could spit in their soup if I wanted - the tables are that close. My husband is across from me and I'm seated next to the gentleman. I glance over, and catty-cornered to me sits Annie Lennox.

It's my second star sighting in a year. Annie frikkin Lennox. I double check again with lightening speed - one of those glances that screams, "Okay, be casual you've got a superstar less than five feet from you - if you stretched out your foot you could kick her in the shin, but she's here eating like a normal person but she's not a normal person, she's Annie frikkin Lennox." So what do I do? Do I recognize her and ask for an autograph and begin fan fawning? Or do I stay silent and see what unfolds?

My husband doesn't appear to have even noticed that he's sitting next to an award winning singer who sells out stadiums and has the pipes of an angel. I look at him again to see if he's noticed, but he's looking at the menu. I glance around the restaurant. Four other groups are dining - most of them young enough to be my children. Either they don't recognize her, or they are way cooler than me and used to running into superstars at their local sushi joint on a Saturday night on a regular basis.

It is then I decide to go against the grain. Hey, I'm one for that anyway. The expected thing is to fawn and praise. But what would happen if I didn't? What would happen if I just ate my dinner? Think about it. If I recognize her, then her whole demeanor is going to change. She will become much more guarded. It'll change the whole atmosphere of the meal. But if I shut up? Who knows what could happen...

And so we order. Funny, I remember eating, just not sure what it was. I do remember it was tasty, but sitting next to half of Eurhythmics was very distracting to say the least. I didn't stare, but I was incredibly conscious of doing that, "look quick, dart eyes, then look away" thing every two minutes or so. I tried to pay attention to what my husband was talking about but all he got was, "Uh huh, yeah, right," for most of the meal.

Annie's so petite! Maybe five feet tall if that. She was sitting down of course, but I could tell she was little. Wearing a really cute purple smock dress with tights and adorable wedgie sandals. The outfit was too young for her agewise, but she made it work in spades. I was jealous. If I tried an outfit like that I'd look ridiculous and end up as a segment on Maury Povich - Why Won't Your Mother Dress Her Age?

We ate our sushi. Or rather, my husband ate and I tried to. Tried to eat, not stare, provide scintillating conversation to my husband, and listen to what Miss Annie was talking about at the same time. Very shallow of me. I'm very ashamed. But obviously not ashamed enough to stop eavesdropping while appearing to not eavesdrop. I guess I'll be carrying that baggage into my next life. What can I say? It's the starfucker in me - I know these folks are just people, but I'm convinced they're going to say or do something so utterly fabulous that I won't soon forget it. It'll be a story to share when I'm a grandmother. Or as an entry on my blog (sheepish grin).

After her daughter begged off and left early to go watch "Big Brother" (which made me laugh to myself in a "Oh my God! Annie Lennox's daughter watches Big Brother!" kinda way) Annie began to talk about how mad she was at Dave. How Dave didn't appreciate her - after all she was the one who saved him from his drug addictions so many times when he was close to death. How Dave didn't like the kind of music she was doing now, but that's okay, she didn't really like the kind of music he was producing now either. How they're relationship was so dysfunctional, so volatile, and it had been for 30 years. She went on and on, all through dinner. Complaining about Dave. Worrying about Dave. Trashing Dave. After many moments it slowly occurred to me. She's talking about Dave Stewart.


Holy crap. Gossip gold right in front of my face. I was glad I had kept my mouth shut, and shot a quick glance at my husband, hoping he was still oblivious. He tends to get even more googly-eyed than me around celebrities. I needn't have worried. Hubby shot me a look that said, "Wow, she really hates this Dave guy," but he still didn't know she was talking about THAT Dave. Or realize she was THAT Annie.

She also talked about how hard it was for a woman her age to get music produced, to really do the kind of music she wanted to do. I wanted to lean over and exclaim, "We love you Annie! Your music rocks!" but of course I'd taken a vow of fan silence and so just stuffed my face with another piece of unagi instead. If it wasn't awkward before, it would be doubly awkward now to acknowledge her presence after she had just trashed her ex-bandmate all over the place.

Again, I'm not proud I eavesdropped. This was a private moment between her and whoever she was with. Then again, those tables sure were close together. You'd have to be a deaf non-lip-reader to not hear what she was talking about. Not sure what my motivation was for listening so closely though. Morbid curiosity I suppose. I'm also not proud that I'm writing about it. Having a Perez Hilton moment here. But it happened. And it did affect me enough to write about it.

Because you see, Annie didn't come off as all that great during her tirade. After a while I felt pity for her. Thinking to myself that she should let it go. Let it GO already. I mean, how long has it been? What is the life expectancy for something like this anyway? For holding onto a volatile, toxic relationship that should've been let lose years ago. I guess even stars can be co-dependent. At first when I realized who it was she was holding onto, I wanted to give her a hug. But as the minutes wore on, the words coming out of her mouth began to sound narcissistic and childish. A lot of "me me me" and "my my my" as if she had such a horrible lot in life. I glanced her way quickly again and didn't see a star anymore. Just a woman in her 50's, trying to hold onto that golden aura of stardom. That shining mantle of celebrity. Not quite Norma Desmond, but in another few years?

Annie was definitely having a Madonna moment that night. In denial, not aging gracefully, Here's hoping it was just a slip, a bad moment after too much sake during a pity party. I would hate to believe someone I've looked up to for her massive talent would be so, I dunno, near sighted? Unable to age gracefully? It came across as an example of what not to do as you grow older. Don't need the limelight so badly as proof of your own worth.

Annie's still a beautiful and talented woman. I love her to death and always will. And I still feel bad about writing about it. But it's my truth - what came across to me that night. Important enough to share and learn from. We're all human, we all have our weak moments. Unfortunately, Miss Annie had a writer sitting next to her that night. An observer. But I want to thank her too for what she inadvertently taught me without even knowing it. That sometimes the best thing to do is to just surrender your pain. Let it go completely.

We left the restaurant and I told my husband who that woman was. He freaked, so of course we had to casually walk past the restaurant again, just so he could verify what I already knew. That it was Annie Lennox, and that while she was still glamorous and could probably break a champagne flute with her voice, she was a woman holding onto a painful past maybe a little too tightly. Just a flawed human like all of us.


where i've escaped...

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