The last time was in NYC (only been there twice, didn't like it, dirty and hard as hell to make a living there, and that was decades ago. L.A. is like that now) I was walking down a popular, rich street (6th Ave.? Duh...) and coming towards me was Kurt Vonnegut (!), a long time literary hero of mine. Unfortunately, he had his hands full, with lots of bags. My heart beat faster as I got the courage to say, "Hello, Mr. Vonnegut! I, uh..." He saw I really wanted to talk to him, so after a moment he stopped, motioned me aside, tho he was obviously in a hurry, shook my hand and said, "Yes..."
Knowing I was apparently keeping him from something, I quickly tried to get out, "When I was a kid my old brother, who I was closer to than anyone, bought me a copy of Mother Night, I loved it, he later took a year to die young in pain from cancer, and I've read all your books since, and every time I read one it reminds me of him and of how, if he had lived, we surely would've written some funny stuff together--we had the same warped sense of humor--and my entire life would've been different, instead of the fucked-up mess that I've made of it by myself,"
I instantly thought, Oh no, what a fuckin idiot!!
He simply nodded politely, as if to say, Thanks, but I'm in a hurry and you're wasting my precious time here...
He then wordlessly walked away and I froze there, getting tears in my eyes. It haunted me for YEARS, until I encountered someone online who said they knew someone who knew someone who knew Vonnegut. I wrote out all the above in an email, sent it to him and begged him to send it to K.V. He said he would, and did, but of course I never heard back a word.
I don't know if Vonnegut ever did get my apology/explanation for that day, but I've always hoped that he did before he died.
For the 22 years I was in L.A. I was in heaven, of course. On almost every street, almost every day, I'd run into people I recognized and loved.
One night my ex-wife and I were coming out of a theater on Hollywood Blvd. and in front of us was Michael Ironside, he looked and even moved like Joe Fucking Cool, no lie! We walked behind him a few feet and he actually seemed to emanate a strong vibe which I could feel just by being behind him, making me think, Holy shit, he has the Joe-Cool aura you'd expect from Jack Nicholson!
More heart palpitations before I stopped him and told him how much I loved his work in Scanners. I didn't know if he would bark, "Fuck off!" at me, but he was cool, said thanks and shook our hands. Only then did I notice the smiling beauty on his arm, and my jaw partially dropped--it was the still-stunning Kristen (R-and X-rated Alice in Wonderland) DeBell! I said, "Oh, hi, Kristen, we love you, too!" (Ironside smiled at that.) She smiled sweetly and shook our hands. "Well, I'll let you guys go, we just had to say hi!"