Steve Martin - My New BFF

A few months ago, BOMB, Husband's magazine, had its annual fundraising gala. Tickets to this shindig were $600 each. We did not have to pay but we did get to attend.

It was a snazzy dress-up event, so Husband and I both got new clothes. Husband got a new suit — his first new suit since our wedding. It's a great suit and it doesn't hurt that Brian's so attractive. Needless to say, he looked great — very debonair. I also got a new dress to wear and a cute pink headband to add a splash of color to an otherwise grey ensemble. My outfit cost about ten times less than Brian's, but sometimes that's just how it goes.

We took this picture the night before the gala when Brian brought his suit home from the tailor. The actual night of the party, I took a shower and wore hose and I did my hair like this:

Fun side note: You can play a fun Highlights-like game with the first picture. Can you find among the bric-a-brac of our living room, a hiking boot, Rapunzel's braid, two moose, a fly swatter, and a chicken?

The big news the week before the party was that Steve Martin — everyone's favorite wild and crazy guy — had sent in his RSVP and was expected to show. I made lots of plans to take incognito pictures of me standing next to Mr. Martin while he was talking to someone else and unawares. Little did I know I would have the opportunity for much more interaction than that.

The party was held at The Park, a restaurant in Chelsea with a lovely, enclosed garden. The evening started with two hours of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Then we sat down for a delicious dinner, two lifetime-achievement-type awards to an artist (Kara Walker) and an art critic (Irving Sandler), and thank-you-for-comings. Throughout the evening a silent auction was going on. Art from more than 40 friends of BOMB had been donated to this fundraiser auction. The art was hung all around the restaurant. On the walls, next to each piece, were bid cards on which potential buyers would write their names and top bids. Since this was a fundraiser and a New York art event and an art event featuring some famous artists and some really great stuff, the opening bids were a little (actually a lot) out of our price range. So Husband and I were content to eat free food, drink free drinks, and look at the art and discuss which pieces we would buy if we had an extra few thousand dollars laying around.

When I arrived at the party (about 45 minutes after Brian) there had been no Steve Martin sightings yet. I had to settle for being introduced to some artists who had done work for BOMB that I really liked, finally meeting a few of the more elusive of Brian's collegues, and Brian pointing out Eric Fischl, an artist whom we had seen speak a year ago. Toward the end of the cocktail hours, Brian and I were standing at a bar in the back of the restaurant with a BOMB coworker. Brian was ordering a Mojito and I a white wine, when suddenly and without warning, Steve Martin is standing right next to us also ordering drinks. He looked just like himself — a little older and slightly less thin than he appears in my mind, but still just like Steve Martin. He was wearing a (presumably) black suit and nice black-rimmed glasses. His hair — as white as I could have hoped.

I am hopeless when it comes to spotting celebrities. I've lived in New York City for almost five years but have an abysmal celebrity-sightings list. Unlike sooprgrll who can spot a celebrity at 100 yards, I don't see them. In spite of the fact that Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Jennifer Connelly (and hubby Paul Bettany), and I hear Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard, all live five to seven blocks away from me, I've never seen any of them. Okay, I saw John Turturro, but that's because I went to his play and even then Brian had to point him out. I missed seeing Steven Spielberg in Central Park as he walked right past us because I was sliding around on the ice pretending to be at the Olympics. And I would have missed Steve Martin standing at the bar right next to us if Brian and his coworker hadn't seen him. Brian had turned around and welcomed Mr. Martin to the gala on behalf of BOMB and received a cordial reply — "I hope you make a lot of money!" — before I even knew what had happened.

This is a picture I took from about ten feet away without him knowing. After taking it, I thought I had gone about as far as I could go. I had been standing four feet away while he ordered drinks, I had been close enough to overhear him being introduced to an artist that Brian had introduced me to a few hours earlier, and I had taken this sneaky camera shot to commemorate this day forever. What more could I have hoped for?

After the dinner and ceremony there were "only twenty minutes left to make your bids" on the silent-auction artworks. Like I said before, Brian and I weren't bidding; we couldn't afford it. But we took a walk around during the last twenty frenzied minutes to see what the going rate was for two or three of our favorite pieces. This is one of them. There were three other pieces by the same artist: Ellen Berkenblit. All very similar, featuring the same woman and snake. This four-piece series was our favorite work (two of the pieces in particular) in the silent action.

We approached the Berkenblit pieces to ascertain the going rate and we noticed a name: S. Martin.

"S. Martin. That's Steve Martin," Husband said to me.

"Oh my gosh, Brian. Steve Martin bid on your two favorite pieces." I said loudly to Husband just before I realized that Steve Martin was standing three feet away from me guarding the pieces he had bid on.

"You cannot outbid me," Steve Martin said to me as he raised the pen in his hand to eye-level, ready to rewrite his name alongside his new, higher bid amount. His eyes never moved from the artwork but still his comment was funny and playful and — did I mention? — addressed to me.

"Oh is that right?" I replied, giggling a little. "Brian, I should outbid him," I said as I turned to Husband.

"That'd be funny." Husband said and nodded. Did I mention that there was a two-hour cocktail hour and wine with dinner? Because I'm going to blame a little too much wine for the ridiculous decision to walk up to the bid card and write my real name next to a bid for $2000. The wine might also have had something to do with the bravado that led me to turn around, touch Steve Martin's arm, and say to him, "I'll leave you to make your bid" and then walk away. What was I thinking?

I walked to the other side of the room and then turned around thinking I could watch Steve Martin take out his pen again and out bid me. But he didn't move. He was stood still looking at the paintings, watching the four he wanted, but making no strides to reclaim the one that I had just stolen from him.

I started to sweat. Why wasn't he moving? He told me I couldn't outbid him. He pretty much dared me to bid him up. Why wasn't he upbidding me? I cannot afford to spend $2000 on a piece of art. Why in the world did I use my real name? You can't welch on a bid when you have the same last name as an employee. What was I going to do?

For about ten more minutes, I was in a small panic. Then the announcement came that the bidding was now closed. Mr. Martin calmly took out his pen, walked forward, and wrote his name and his final bid on the four pieces that he wanted. Then he walked away.

A sigh of relief. I could breath again. We went up and took a picture of the final bid card with my name sandwiched between two "S. Martins." With my pulse back to normal, I was about to think about how silly and kind of rude I had been. I just cost Steve Martin $500. So if you ever read this blog, Mr. Martin, I'm sorry. It was rude and thoughtless of me. And I really enjoy watching you in movies. And thank you for reading my blog.


Anonymous fantasy weather league said...

Maybe husband could offer him free tickets next year?

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Sophia said...


11:36 AM  
Anonymous brian said...

Nicely written. It was funny to see the panic in your eyes when you thought we might have to actually buy the artwork. We'd have made it through.

7:31 AM  
Blogger theponyproblem said...

i like your hairstyle in this! it reminds me of seventeen magazine hairstyles that i don't believe i ever tried.

9:48 AM  
Blogger thisisntjimmy said...

so, i read this when you first posted, but haven't commented yet... but now that I'm avoiding work at all costs...

the way Steve's hunched in mid-walk with his hand properly sticking out of his sleeves beyond the wrist, makes me think of a dead person in a coffin... It does... I'm just saying

11:09 AM  
Blogger Abbi said...

Great story! You actually saved him some money, since they recommend bid increments of $300, and you only bumped it up by $150. So if you had been any other Schmo, he would have forked over $2450 if he really wanted it.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous brian said...

Good eyes, Abbi. (I didn't wanna be the one to mention the messed-up bid-increment thing.)

12:20 AM  
Blogger Abbi said...

I check my receipt before leaving Target.

When are you coming over for dinner?

10:39 AM  
Blogger thisisntjimmy said...

Stevie got married this past weekend, so you sort of took $350 from his wife as well...

3:11 PM  
Blogger Abbi said...

Speaking of the wife, I think that's her in the photo! Your pic in itself is a rare find.

3:42 PM  
Blogger ester said...

awesome and AMAZING!!

3:31 PM  

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