d o c t o r a n d m a m a

Linda Shiue

Linda Shiue
San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA
December 31
I am a physician and spend my free time with my husband and kids, reading everything in sight, eating, traveling, and cooking meals inspired by my travels. These days I'm spending more time at my food blog, spiceboxtravels.com. Please visit me there and follow me on Twitter @spiceboxtravels. Disclaimer: Health information presented here is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions. © 2010-12 Linda Shiue. All Rights Reserved.

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OCTOBER 22, 2010 6:13AM

How Not to Impress Famous People

Rate: 25 Flag

V and A Museum by Linda Shiue 

"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. 


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Yup, pretty funny imagining Tony Blair sitting among used tissue!
Famous people know about Charmin too. :)
I think you did a great job. They put their pants on one leg at a time too. _R-
Charming! (I'm always apologizing for the interior of my "mommy car" - usually empty juice boxes and string cheese wrappers are floating around. I would be so nervous if a Famous Person rode in my car!).
I wouldn't worry about it. I really don't give any thought to who is famous and who is not.
Marvelous....I think I will call this post.... Ewe and McEwan
I too become inexplicably star struck around famous people. I can't explain it! You did well - I probably would have crashed the car.
This was pretty funny, I have not been in quite a similar situation, but close enough to laugh and feel your discomfort. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the laugh -- I needed it today! Had it been me, the story would have been the same, only worse. My car is typically disgusting thanks to two boys and three sports' worth of equipment in the car, plus various toys and snack remains. I cleaned it out completely yesterday, so should a famous person need a ride, I hope it's within the next day or two before it gets completely trashed again. And, I can see myself giving the unscheduled night tour of San Francisco, as well! It took me two years to learn how to get to my husband's office, if that tells you anything...
- the 'real life tour', Linda!
Thank you, I haven't had so much fun reading an article in a while
Visitors to our country (no matter famous or not) should meet us as we are. A busy mother with children is a great example of that. And you gave them stories to tell back home.
Asking what color the mouse was is such a quintessentially British response!
I could have been in that same situation once, fortunatly I did not have my car with me! Nice post!
As a reporter, I've had my share of encounters with the famous and have generally found them to be very pleasant people (Kris Kristofferson was a peach and Johnny Rivers made me a fan for life). The only exception was Doc Watson, who was a surly old cracker. I can tell you this much: People should have to pay to have lunch with Arlo Guthrie. It lasted three hours and they were fascinating.
Heheh! Good one. This so as easily could have been me! You handled it well.
Too funny! Don't feel bad, some of us get lost always. And " my" car has crackers and remnants of Happy Meals. r for related

Think of the future uptick in limousine services for visiting British celebs. You've done your part to stimulate the economy.
Everyone, thanks for laughing along with me!
Hey, they have children, too;
and I, for one, think Mrs. B is a pretty decent human.
Anyone connected to Ian Mc Ewan qualifies as a celebrity to me! What an entertaining account of your brush with fame. And hey, maybe he needed a cracker or a drink of water...
Sorry you got nervous. Famous people are just people, you know.
This was great. Personally, I think your guests should have been (and maybe were) in awe of you!
Linda, great story!!

(Richard Dawkins? If so, we appreciate his willingness to take an articulate and insightful stand on a really important issue.)
It's tough for some people not to get flustered when in the presence of a famous person. I have been around so many of them (as a journalist and music writer as well as filmmaker), I don't normally get so flustered. Still, there are a few that I've made a fool of myself in front of because I didn't realize how much I admired and respected them.

Rated for the human condition! (R)
My youngest daughter took me to a Blue Bottle coffee place that was a garage in an alley. The lattes were great. While you were tooling around the Tenderloin you probably went past where that daughter works, The McAllister Hotel.
cute story but I think its lame you omitted the name of Famous Person. maybe you should ask em for permission to blog about them if you're that sensitive.
Linda, this was absolutely hilarious. Thanks for sharing this.