1. Deliberately Ignore Them
This is by far the simplest way of dealing with accidental celebrity eruption. Simply keep sipping your drink, and ignore the fact that that brunette girl from Cloverfield just spilled hot coffee all over your table.
The obvious down side of this method is that you don’t actually get to interact with the famous person, and thus cannot tell your friends about it otherwise. This is a bigger problem than it seems: celebrity encounters are meaningless in the absence of more than one person who knows about the celebrity. Simply knowing that you saw that brunette chick isn’t enough: the event in itself isn’t interesting, not like being chased by a hyena before falling down a sewer grate is interesting. It only really becomes impressive if you tell someone. And if you do tell someone in this case, they will ask ‘Why did you ignore them?’
This option does have an advantage, though: the smug feeling of superiority that comes from the knowledge that you have subverted Western civilization’s shallow celebrity culture. This feeling will increase exponentially if you manage to work the non-event into conversation with others. “Oh, that brunette from Cloverfield was at Starbucks? Yeah, I was there, but I was so involved in my article about saving baby penguins via nanotechnology I didn’t even notice. I barely know who she is, by the way. I don’t even own a television.”
Your friends will be amazed, not only at your extraordinary luck, but at the fact that your life is so interesting that running into that chick who was like almost naked in True Blood doesn’t faze you enough to put down your magazine.
2. Pretend You Don’t Recognize Them.
At first glance, this seems similar to the ‘ignoring’ option. The difference is that here you will actually attempt to interact with the famous person, but you will do so while pretending to have no idea who they are.
Of course, if you don’t recognize them, then you’d probably have no reason to talk to them unless they are actually standing on one of your limbs. So you need another excuse. Start making plans now on a ‘casual’ conversation starter to use in case you ever find yourself seated next to Gary Oldman on a plane. Some non-fame-related suggestions are: weather, coffee, how much you hate immigrants, how 9/11 was an inside job, etc. Go nuts!
Now, the famous person is probably going to be suspicious, particularly if it is someone really famous. There’s a high probability that he she will catch on to your act, and attempt to uncover what you are doing. Persistence is good in this case, as is a genuine look of confusion. If they’re still suspicious, then pretending to be partially blind, or telling them that you have only just left after a lifetime in an Amish colony, might do the trick.
If they are particularly jaded, they might see past even this ruse. If they’re not, there’s a good chance they will gradually start to trust you and relish the long-lost art of being able to talk to a normal stranger who isn’t staring at their crotch and drooling. This is a victory, because later you can tell your friends: ‘Yeah, I met Gary Oldman. We talked shit about the best flavorings to use when you’re making Delmonico steak. It was pretty good. I guess.’
On the other hand, you might run into a different type of famous person: the insecure celebrity. This type, found among reality TV show contestants, former child stars, and those not quite blessed with the talent to make them think they’ve earned their fame, will not be relieved but instead deeply troubled by the fact that someone does not recognize them. They will most likely start dropping heavy hints into the conversation. EXAMPLE:
M. Night Shyamalan: Do you like ghosts?
YOU: Yes, I do, sir.
M. Night Shyamalan: Do you like movies about ghosts?
YOU: I sure do!
M. Night Shyamalan: Have you seen The Sixth Sense? I heard it had a director cameo.
YOU: Yeah, it probably did. Man, this is good coffee.
If this happens, pretending to have an epiphany and realize who they are is not a good plan, because once validated, chances are they will immediately lose interest. Your best method is to look more and more confused as they gradually resort to mentioning all of the Japanese commercials they have starred in, until they finally burst into tears and run away sobbing.
3. Pretend you hate their stuff
Another possible option is to pretend that while you know who they are, you actually despise all of the things they are famous for. This may sound cruel, but remember that they can probably take it, due to the offsetting positive messages they most likely receive all day (well, unless you do this to Steven Seagal. That’s just rubbing salt in the wound). EXAMPLE:
YOU: I’m sorry, Mr. Willis. Die Hard 3.0 really sucked. I mean, ‘3.0’? What is this, 1995?
BRUCE WILLIS: Oh come on, it wasn’t that bad. What about the bit when I shot myself and it was totally hardcore for at least ten seconds?
YOU: That doesn’t make up for Planet Terror.
There are many potential downsides to this method: there’s a good chance that the average well-adjusted famous person will just assume you’re a jerk and walk off. However, if the celebrity is particularly attention-seeking, you can kill two birds with one stone, as he or she will not only pay attention to you, but also offer you bribes to try to get you to like her. EXAMPLE:
YOU: I’m sorry Ms. Tequila, I never really enjoyed – wait, what is it you’re famous for again? Besides being beaten by Juggalos?
TILA TEQUILA: Take enough pictures of me with your phone and I will blow you right here.
4. Fake a Medical Emergency
You’re walking down the street, casually minding your own business, when you suddenly bump shoulders with William Shatner. You are by far too much of a devoted fan to be able to ignore him, yet you don’t have time to start a good conversation or even plan a good ruse. What do you do?
Simple: fake medical emergency! A seizure is good, because it means you don’t have to carry around large quantities of fake blood. Pretending to choke on a piece of food might also work. Even if William Shatner just walks right on by, chances are that he will at least talk about you to his friends later: “Hey, I killed a man today.”
This technique can also be combined with techniques 2 or 3. After Mr. Shatner saves your life by performing the Heimlich maneuver, you can say “Thanks, unknown sir!” or “That was awesome, Mr. Shatner, but what was with Generations? How did that missile reach the sun so quickly? Did it have a warp drive attached?” Mr. Shatner will then viciously slap you, but you can take a picture of the bruise and send it to all your friends.
5. Screw It, And Go All Out.
So you might have decided that the dishonesty inherent in the previous options is far more damaging to your character than any potential loss of dignity. If this is the case, we recommend at least trying to distinguish youself from the raging fan-hoard by the sheer level of your teenage-girl-like behavior. Keep in mind that this should not involve actually harassing the famous person, as arrest warrants don’t really impress anyone (well, unless you are arrested for being Batman. That would be awesome.) Instead, simply try to top everyone else’s indignity. If other people around you are shrieking, let out a piercing, high-pitched scream that continues for as long as you have air in your lungs. (Note: This works even better if you’re male). Cry hysterically while hugging yourself, and rocking back and forth. Turn to the fan next to you and tell them that now you’ve seen this person, today is better than your wedding day, the birth of your children, and the day you were cured of stage four brain cancer combined. Yell out ‘TAKE ME, ROBERT PATTINSON! TAKE ME RIGHT NOW RIGHT HERE ON THIS BUSY MANHATTAN STREET!’ (Note: This works even better if the famous person around isn’t Robert Pattinson.)
You might think you’re making things worse, and presenting an even more degrading picture of Western society’s decadent culture. In reality, you’re doing good, because everyone else in the room will ultimately feel better about themselves by comparison. No matter how much they stuttered and made fools of themselves while having their merchandise signed by J.J. Abrams, at least they can feel better about not being the guy on his knees in the middle of his room, a thin column of drool gradually making its way past his faded Lost t-shirt and towards the floor.