And why I hope Jay Leno will read this

Anna I. Smith
Sep 16 · 4 min read
Photo by Martin Jernberg on Unsplash

I’ve lived in California for close to 40 years. That’s a long time.

So when people ask me if I’ve ever met anyone famous I have to tell them that my list of famous people encounters is fairly short.

But my list of famous people I‘ve almost met is long. At least for someone who doesn’t get out much, surrounds herself with screeching peacocks, smelly skunks, and large horses, and hates the bar scene.

Below is a list of famous people I almost met. Don’t be jealous.

This list starts out strong because once I almost saw Arnold Schwarzenegger from my living room window. He was making a movie close to where we lived at the time. I heard the fake explosions for three nights. Even with my windows closed. That’s how close he was.

And once in Toronto, I walked by a movie trailer. The door was open. Nobody was around. So I peeked inside. And I saw Denzel Washington. Not in person. But his name was on a whiteboard.

Keep reading. It gets better. Not good. Just better.

While dropping off one of my children at the Long Beach airport, who was there (the day before) filming Catch Me If You Can? Leo DiCaprio.

And while standing in Monet’s kitchen (yes that Monet — the one from France) I looked across the kitchen island and who did I see? Henry Winkler. My husband and I followed him outside. I wanted to have my picture taken with him. My husband looked at the camera and the little number display showing how many pictures were left on the roll (yes I’m that old!) and yelled out, for The Fonz and his family to hear: “No, you can’t take a picture with him. There’s only one picture left and I don’t want to waste it!”

Jealous yet? Or just embarrassed for me? There’s more:

One time Armstrong Garden Center shot an ad in my neighbor’s yard. Not a celebrity story but my neighbor got to keep all the plants.

And another neighbor had more than one commercial shoot in her yard. The latest one was an erectile dysfunction commercial. It took a week to shoot. Lots of trucks and beautiful people with expensive haircuts and sunglasses were walking up and down the street. But again, nobody famous.

A few months later I was watching 60 minutes (my age shows again). And there it was. A woman was walking around in my neighbor’s treehouse. The place was beautifully lit with those café lights and there were blue pillows all around. The woman was walking slowly — slowly stroking the railing with her hand.

And she had a smile on her face like she was expecting something special. A birthday gift? A ready, willing, and able man? Difficult to say. But the fact that that kind of commercial would be shot in that particular neighbor’s yard surprised me. My neighbor is a very proper church-going type. I hope the lady in the treehouse was married to the man climbing up to see her.

And I did get to meet Roseanne Barr a few times. My son and her son were friends. The nanny arranged all the playdates but sometimes she was there when I picked up or dropped off. She was soft-spoken and humble. Don’t believe everything you read. Unless I wrote it — because it’s true.

And Neil Young was soft-spoken too. My friend worked for him. I was there when she interviewed for the job. I had to convince her to take it. I was young and had never heard of him but I just thought he and his wife looked like really kind, down-to-earth people. And I was impressed they remembered my name when the interview was over. I barely remembered his.

And there’s Kelly Ripa. My husband and Kelly Ripa share an uncle. My husband’s family tells me she’s very nice. I don’t doubt that at all. But I wouldn’t know. I’ve never met her.

And the Queen of Sweden seems nice. I saw her twice. Don’t get excited. I was born and raised in Stockholm and worked as a nanny near the castle, so the odds were on my side. Once we crossed paths on escalators. The queen was going up while I was heading down.

The other time, the queen was in a limo. As the limo passed, she looked straight at me and waived. I waived back. My mother raised me well. Compared to hers, my waive needed some work. Mine was peasant-like. Embarrassing. I thought about it all the way home.

And then there’s Leno

And then there’s Jay Leno. I see his car now and then. It’s a red Corvette. It sounds like a purring tiger. No, he’s not driving. (This is me, remember?) He gave the car to a friend of his who lives down the street from me.

If I ever see Jay Leno, I would ask him for one thing. I would ask him for an autographed picture with the words “YES SHE IS” written on the front. Then I would place the picture close to the kitchen table. So when I tell my kids a hilarious story and they look at me and tell me I’m not funny, I can point to the Jay Leno picture and say that yes, I am. Jay Leno said so. It’s in writing.

The Haven

A Place to Be Funny Without Being a Jerk

Anna I. Smith

Written by

I ask myself why and what if. Then I write. And it’s mostly about relationships. I can be reached at

The Haven

The Haven

A Place to Be Funny Without Being a Jerk

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