Dan Lauria and I have a storied and rich history. He may or may not know it. In 1997, I begrudgingly accepted a job at the Starbucks on the corner of Sunset and La Brea. For those of you in the know, that’s not the trendiest (or the safest) intersection in ye olde Hollywood. But I was happy to have a job after dropping out of my graduate acting program to actually pursue my dream of acting. And I had worked at Starbucks from 1993 to 1995 when I lived in Chicago. So it was a relatively easy thing to take back up. Aside from the scores of homeless people who were repeat “customers,” we got a few celebs. One night, Linda Evangelista. Another morning, some guy from Days of our Lives. And almost every day, Dan Lauria. He would get a cup of decaf. I’ve always had a soft spot for him from the “Wonder Years.” Probably because, at times, he reminded me of my own father. They could both be crabby when faced with annoying children. Each day Dan and I would exchange a shy smile as he paid. It really was my first brush with anyone who was a celebrity and to see him in his everyday life was thrilling for me. It got better. I joined the Hollywood YMCA and one guess as to who was a member there. Yes, Tim Allen. Okay, yes, Sharon Gless. YES! Dan Lauria. We would exchange shy smiles but I was never sure if he recognized me when I wasn’t covered in coffee stains and yelling about Grande Lattes. Side note: I have TERRIBLE vision. REALLY BAD. Usually when people try on my glasses they have a big over-sized physical reaction like something out of a Marx Brothers film. “Whoa!” “Are these Coke Bottles?” “I think your glasses blinded me!” Ha ha, people. I have bad eyes and I wear glasses and I am never going to get Lasik. I am a girl who wears glasses. Get over it. Seriously, if I get Lasik, I will give each of you a dollar. Okay, I digressed big time. And why am I so angry?
Back to the Hollywood Y, circa 1998: I do some sort of mild workout involving machines I don’t know how to use and decide to get into the hot tub. The hot tub is located right next to the lap pool in the co-ed section of the gym. I scoot to the end and relax in the warm water with some old people talking about being old. A burly man gets in the hot tub and starts walking hot tub-style towards the end where I am. Something happens. I can’t tell you exactly what because I couldn’t see anything. I don’t know if the fat lady in the floral one-piece blocking the stairs trips him or if he is trying to avoid the skeletal 95-year old gent who tried to bring his cane in, but suddenly…wait, not suddenly, it was slow motion because he was in water, this man falls on me. I come face to chest hair with…..Dan Lauria. We smile shyly at one another. He mumbles something about being sorry. I mumble something about needing to restock the pastry case and then it was all just awkward. He didn’t come into Starbucks after that when I was working and then I quit. Furthermore, our paths (or bodies) never crossed at the gym. I never saw him again. Until today. I was at Marie et Cie writing and who should walk in? No, not Sharon Gless. DAN LAURIA. I didn’t try to make eye contact. I was just happy to see him. I hope he ordered decaf.