"Of course, not a problem," I answered nonchalantly when my host asked me to transport a VIP guest and his wife back to their hotel. This was not anyone paparazzi would care about, but all of you readers might-- Ian McEwan based the protagonist of a recent novel on him. As someone who is more of a literary than Hollywood groupie, I was a little nervous.
This is how it went. I tried to maintain my facade of normalcy. It was dark outside, at least, so nobody could see how unwashed my car was. Famous Person squeezed into the front passenger seat of what I like to call my Smallvo, and his legs bent at an acute angle to fit.
"You can adjust the seat, there's plenty of room in back," I offered.
"No, that's alright," he responded, overly politely.
"At the least, then, let me clear some space for you," I said as I reached under the bent legs of the Famous Person. I pulled out the objects at his feet and explained them one by one. "If you're hungry, you can have a cracker. Or here's some water if you're thirsty." I had no explanation for the dirt-encrusted sneakers I kept in front, and I did not realize until after his departure that I also missed the used tissue on the floor. (I hope he did, too.)
Famous Person's wife was able to squeeze into the narrow back seat of my car after I removed one of the kids' booster seats and discreetly swept off the cracker crumbs, pebbles, and assorted other detritus that normally occupy that space.
Once Famous Person and wife were settled, I sat down, buckled up, and turned on the ignition. Loud house music with possibly obscene lyrics poured out of the speakers. I turned it off quickly.
That left us making conversation. Famous Person next to me, his wife in back with my young daughters. We had first met them during a family trip to London, where they live, so that was an obvious topic of conversation. "Tell me, girls, what did you see when you were in London?" she asked.
Older Daughter was respectfully silent. I imagined she was reminiscing about all the cultural activities we had done-- Buckingham and Kensington Palaces, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum-- and couldn't decide on a favorite.
Younger Rascal did not hesitate to announce the insights she had gained with the opportunity of foreign travel: "I saw a dead mouse."
"Really! Well, I have seen many dead mice in London! What color was it?"
Distracted by the unimpressive conversation my daughters were having, as well as the aura of the Famous Person next to me, I made a wrong turn, which led to many other wrong turns. So I turned my mistakes into a night tour of San Francisco. (For free!)
"That's City Hall, there's the Main Library, and that is the Asian Art Museum." I pointed out.
"They have Japanese stuff in there right now," Older Daughter piped in, as we passed by the Asian Art Museum.
"Japanese stuff? Well, that's lovely," answered Famous Person, who was probably thinking, what else was there to do but join in?
"And this is the Tenderloin," I announced, as we passed by shady characters of the night. I didn't want to explain what sort of illegal enterprise occurred here at night (and day) in front of my daughters, but I think the multiple massage parlors with blacked-out windows were self-explanatory to the adults in the car.
I pointed out other important landmarks as we approached the hotel. "There's Macy's, there's Barney's, and there's some really good Pakistani food over there."
We finally reached the hotel, not a minute too soon. Of course, I also gave a few restaurant recommendations before they left (Blue Bottle Cafe in Mint Square for breakfast and RN74 for dinner, if you're wondering). Famous Person wrote them down! At least, I know my food.