Monday, October 15, 2012

Life Moments: That One Time I Terrified Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe and I first fell in love in 1999. 

That was the year “Mystery, Alaska” was released.  We locked eyes in that semi-crowded, dark multiplex and though neither of us expected it, our worlds just fundamentally shifted. Sure, he was on the screen and I was seated in the theater with my then-husband Tony (better known to my friends as “That Little Fucker” or “TLF”).  And sure, we ran with different crowds on mostly different continents.

 But we knew it was for real.  There was no denying the attraction.

Seriously, it's almost embarrassing how much he wants me in this photo.

I mean, look at all we had in common!  He was a movie star—I liked movies.  He was rich and famous—and I had always assumed I would be as well.  He was single, gorgeous, and could have any woman on the planet—I was married, 40 pounds overweight, and could have been almost any woman on the planet.

It started innocently enough, as these things often do, with frequent purchases of “People” magazine.  It quickly escalated to long, lazy afternoons spent Googling for the latest news and photos and reading  Let’s face it, we were hooked on each other.  And I knew, I somehow just knew, that one day fate would put us in the same place at the same time.

Being me, I hedged my bets on this chance meeting by cyber-stalking Russell… and my efforts eventually paid off when I learned that he and his band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, would be in Austin for a month recording their next album… and would play for 3 consecutive weekends at Stubbs BBQ. Austin was only 160 miles away (I lived in Houston at the time). And my weekends, despite (or perhaps because of) being tied down to the most unlikable man in North America, were unusually free.  My initial thought:  Oh, he will be mine.

My second thought, immediately on the heels of that was: Oh crap, I need to lose weight. And so it began:  My Russell Crowe make-over.  Make no mistake, it was hard.  40 pounds is a lot of weight on a 5’2” frame, and I was almost always hungry.   But was I going to let some jiggly thighs stand between me and the man I was meant to be with?  Puh-SHAW, people!

And so, 3 months later and 40 pounds slimmer, I found myself (and unfortunately TLF as well) standing about 5 rows back from the stage at Stubbs BBQ, awaiting my destiny. I was wearing a black halter top, black shorts and the kind of come hither-stare that one typically reserves for movie stars.

And suddenly… there he was

Look, I’m not demented.  I knew I was there with my completely unlikable and not-at-all fun husband.  I knew there was little chance for some sort of meeting of the minds (or bodies, oh yes please, bodies)… so I told myself I’d be happy if we just made eye contact, if I simply knew that he saw me, that we connected for a moment in time.

And you know what?  We DID

And that was it.

I returned to Houston, pleased with that moment and yet still unsatisfied.

So two weeks later, I returned to Stubbs.  This time I left TLF at home and brought a girlfriend with me.  We arrived late and subsequently were much farther back in the crowd than on my previous visit. And yet, and yet… I knew it was going to happen. I had come too far.  I had planned too much.  I had lost 40 mother-fucking pounds, for God’s sake.  Friends and neighbors—it was ON.

So the concert ended, the venue emptied, and my friend and I found ourselves standing in the now almost-empty amphitheater, awaiting some new friends we had met in the crowd to return from the ladies room.  The plan was to go hit 6th Street and drown my unrequited love sorrows.  Wait, I said almost empty amphitheater… right?  There was one man left in the vast expanse of empty space.  One man, and somewhat inexplicably, one folding chair in which he was sitting.  

And because I had spent MONTHS stalking Russell, I happened to recognize the man:  It was Russell’s brother, Terry.  (Terry was a shorter, stockier, and much less rich and famous version of his brother.  Still, he was my TICKET.)

Well, as you might imagine, I just marched right on over to Terry and introduced myself.  We struck up a conversation about the upcoming “Cinderella Man” and Jodie Foster and God only knows what else.  Seriously, I was at my most maniacally charming… and was dancing as fast as I could. I remember at one point, he actually touched my hair and said something about how beautiful it was and I thought “Oh…so…if I can’t land Russell, I think I could nail his brother.  And that would be close, right?”

Listen, I’m not proud.  But at least I’m honest.

Terry invited us to the Afterparty.  He gave us the address of the unmarked private club where we should meet him…and where he’d introduce us to his dreamy brother.  I felt like I might just DIE from happiness!

So off we went.  I had no camera.  I had no pen/paper. I had nothing but my slimmer body, my months of stalking, and my hope.  And oh yes friends and neighbors, make no mistake, hope floats.

We waited outside of the club for Terry to show up.  We said hello to Ron Howard.  We said hello to Sandra Bullock.  Child’s play, people.  I nodded and smiled and said “hi” like they were the janitor in my office building. I was keeping my eye on the prize.

We met the other band members of 30 Odd Foot of Grunts. Like a total weirdo, I happened to know all of their names and momentarily convinced their trumpet player that we knew each other because I was so familiar with him.  I was IN.

And then, a black Ford Explorer pulled up.  The door opened.  And out stepped my future.  The love of my life.  The man of my DREAMS.  He was smiling, looking around…and then he was upon me.  We made eye contact.  He smiled at me, and looked at me expectantly.

This was my moment.  I had spent MONTHS preparing for it.  I had traveled hundreds of miles, dropped scores of pounds.  I had researched this man to the nth degree.  I had chatted up his family and his band mates.  I had learned all of his songs.  I knew what he ate for breakfast, who his favorite artists were, how much he adored his niece. And here he was, smiling at me, looking me in the eye, expecting something.  I smiled back.  And I opened my mouth to speak.

And suddenly and without warning, I started weeping hysterically.

And what came out of my mouth was a garbled and mashed up string of words that made absolutely no sense.  I think I was even hyperventilating.  Through my gasps for air, I managed to say something like “Omigod, yourshowwas sogood, ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod!”  Russell looked at me like… oh, I don’t know… how someone might look at a rabid rabbit that is completely adorable but foaming at the mouth and perhaps even dangerous.

And then, he kept on walking.  All I could hear was my friend whisper “Annie, STOP.  You’re making an ASS out of yourself.”

And then he was gone.  He walked out of my life without looking back.  I think I probably gained back at least 5 pounds in that instant. Fucking water weight.

The next day, my friend and I were driving back to Houston in a companionable silence, when suddenly I announced “You know what?  This is for the best.  Russell and I really didn’t have anything in common anyway.”

She looked at me.  She waited a moment and then said “Really?  You’re just figuring this out now?”

I’m a slow learner.

And then, without ceremony, Russell and I broke up.  It was over.  And I never looked back. Sure, I recalled our summer together fondly…and I knew I’d never forget him…but we were finished.  I went on to divorce and then remarry and then divorce again.  And he married a beautiful actress and had some kiddos.

We were happy for each other.

Until this morning, when I learned that he and his wife had separated.  And of course, my phone started ringing.  I could see on Caller ID that it was a New Zealand number, so I of course ignored it.

I love Derek.  He’s The Boy.

Russell had his chance.  And he blew it.

I’m sure the next time he finds himself in a dark, semi-crowded multiplex, he’ll think of me. And honestly, who could blame him?

Plus, I totally could still nail his brother.


  1. I had the same experience with Gwen Stefani in LAX. Her loss too.

  2. You made me laugh!!! I love Russell too...though I didn't have the same experience I usually dream about him..