In a recent interview with the German website TrailerSeite.de, Bruce Willis said that he would never sign up for a social networking site because he finds the concept of online technology like Facebook and Twitter "disturbing."
I fear that I'm partially responsible for Willis' aversion to the electronic format. You see, before there was tweeting; before there was the ability to wink and poke; before there were the means to cyberstalk; there was me and there was Bruce, and there was this really great party.
Held at Manhattan's famed Sound Factory and labeled as the "Insanity Ball," the event featured a room filled with nothing but Styrofoam peanuts, waist-high and surprisingly sensual. Another room showcased lithe men in Speedo's perched atop amazingly tall ladders, tearing open feather pillows and holding up the exposed contents to industrial-strength fans. The bar served nothing but room-temperature vodka, no mixers, no ice. The full effect was, true to its name, totally insane.
Into this mix walked Bruce Willis, wearing a bright orange hunting cap and accompanied by his similarly orange-capped posse. At the height of his "Moonlighting" hey-day (before shark-jumping into bed with Cybil Shepherd), Bruce made the unfortunate decision to stand right next to me, his number one fan. I don't have to tell you what happened next. I jumped. I pointed. I repeatedly screamed his full name. Over and over for at least a good minute. Bruce stood frozen, his face a weave of terror and disgust. Instead of turning and running, though, he just stood there, authentically stunned, his posse useless in the face of such true and unbridled frenzy.
Eventually, I calmed down enough to ask if he was enjoying the party. "You're an idiot," he snarled and walked away. My friends, who hadn't noticed the transaction and thought all my bouncing around was just how I danced, blamed me for ruining their chance to finally, after many fruitless nights braving red ropes and crashing VIP sections, do vodka shots with someone famous.
The very next day, with feathers still plastered to the bottoms of my shoes, my boss sent me out in the middle of the afternoon to make a bank deposit. There, on 57th Street, in a moment that, depending on how you look at things, was either kismet or extremely poor timing, I again came face to face with Bruce Willis. It felt like we were the only ones on the sidewalk and once he got close enough, his face registered a look of supreme terror. He stopped in his tracks and his body language suggested to me that he was considering doing a 180 and fleeing. I considered saying something breezy like, "What a small world," but instead, I just kept on walking, head down, to the bank, pretending to Bruce and to myself that the night before had never happened.
Now, years later, I can understand Willis' reticence to connect with fans, to let them know he is at the In-N-Out on Burbank or is live blogging the Oscars. It's because of people like me, who make up the crazy quilt on which celebrity rests. And for that, I am truly sorry. Because I can assure Mr. Willis that if he ever does join the ranks of Facebook or sign up for Twitter, I will be neither friend nor follower.
Cathy Alter is a DC-based writer and author. Her articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in local and national newspapers and magazines including The Washington Post, Washingtonian, Self, and McSweeney's. Her book, Virgin Territory: Stories from the Road to Womanhood was released in 2004 and her memoir, Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over was released in July 2008 and is now available in paperback. www.cathyalter.com.