Believe me, I never would have imagined myself doing such a thing. I’m not big on celebrities or celebrity culture. I don’t read tabloids. Like you, I always assumed stalkers were unstable. Lonely, misguided wackos. Sociopath-lights. Then a few years ago, when I was still living in Los Angeles, my doctor found a spot on my lung. He told me I had six months to live. A year tops.
Naturally, I was stunned. Such a diagnosis changes your perspective of things. I hadn’t exactly set the world on fire as a bicycle salesman. What had I done with my life? What had I yet to do? Were there things I had never done, things I never even considered doing, that I might want to experience, if only once?
Later that same week, still in a daze, I stopped for lunch at the Wienerschnitzel on West Olympic. Sure, your perspective on life changes when you’re given a death sentence, but you still eat junk food. Prisoners on death row get a final meal before their execution. They can order anything they want. You know what the number one food item request is? Pizza. Not lobster tail. Not filet mignon. Pizza. You’re going to die, why put on airs?
So I’m about to enter the Wienerschnitzel, and who should I see sitting with his family at one of those outdoor tables with the big umbrellas? That’s right, Lindsey Buckingham. You know, of Fleetwood Mac fame? I was surprised to see him eating at a hot dog stand. This guy could afford a filet mignon. He must really like hot dogs, though, because he was sitting there attacking a chili cheese dog like he had a fire at the back of his throat and the hot dog was a fire hose. Even his kids seemed a little surprised. “Whoa, Dad. Take it easy,” his son said. “Give the pig a chance.”
I don’t know what possessed me, but from the doorway, I suddenly blurted out, “Hey, Lindsey! Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow!”
It just came out, involuntarily. I’m not even a Fleetwood Mac fan. I nearly yelled, “Don’t stop believing!” Boy, would that have been embarrassing.
To make matters worse, I followed with a maniacal wave of the arm. Again, involuntary. It was like I was possessed.
Buckingham turned to look at me, half the chili cheese dog still in his mouth. All the customers sitting at the outdoor tables looked up from their meals. That’s how loud I was. Buckingham’s wife and children seemed a little frightened. But Buckingham was unfazed. He sort of smiled and semi-waved before returning to his lunch. He must get this sort of thing all the time.
I should have left it there, but I felt oddly unsatisfied. I wanted more. I’m no expert on stalking, but from what I understand, a key part of the stalking experience is getting under the skin of your object of obsession. If you’re not on the verge of having a restraining order slapped on you, you’re not really trying.
An idea struck me. I entered the restaurant and ordered a chili cheese dog. Returning outside with the hot dog, I walked up to Buckingham’s table and showed it to him.
“Look, Lindsey. I got a chili cheese dog. Just like you!”
By way of illustration, I pointed to my chili cheese dog, then to his, then back to mine. Buckingham appeared unimpressed, so I took a big bite, just like him, and stood there looming over his table, chewing with my mouth open.
His wife pulled their youngest daughter to her. Apparently, she wasn’t used to this sort of thing. The son stared at me–a little curious, I thought. The older daughter looked mortified, as only a preteen can, and said simply, “Daddy, who is this?”
“Just a fan, Sweetie,” Buckingham said reassuringly. “Eat your lunch.” He turned to me: “Listen, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I’m trying to have lunch with my family.”
“Oh, gotcha, Lindsey” I said with a wink. “Message received.”
I started to walk away, then stopped and added, “Lightning doesn’t need to strike me twice.”
No response. I may have gotten the lyric wrong.
Finding a nearby table free, I sat down, never taking my eyes off Buckingham as I finished my hot dog. Several minutes passed before I said in a loud voice, “Say, Lindsey, do you still see Stevie?”
“Sometimes,” he replied without even looking at me. He told his children to hurry up.
The Buckinghams quickly finished their lunch, cleared their table, and got into their car, a beautiful red Mercedes. Watching them drive off, I was disappointed. I felt I still hadn’t crossed the line between annoying fan and stalker. So I got in my Corona and followed them onto the I-10.
I couldn’t believe what I was doing, but I was feeling such an amazing rush. I felt…alive. I kept their car in sight ahead of me for several miles. They exited at South Bundy. I managed to speed up and cut off another car to squeeze in behind them. Then I started pounding my horn.
Buckingham looked in his rear-view mirror but didn’t appear to recognize me. He must have thought it was some sort of emergency because he slowed his Mercedes and pulled off to the side of the road. I pulled in behind him and got out of my car. He got out of his and started walking toward me. His initial expression of concern turned to one of recognition. Then anger. Before he could lose his temper, I pulled my iPhone out of my coat pocket and held it up before me.
“Look, Lindsey, I’m on Facebook. Could we be friends? Could you friend me? Or maybe you could follow me on Twitter? I promise I’ll follow back.”
Mission accomplished. Buckingham launched into a furious tirade there on the side of the road, his finger poking my chest. He was strong for a little guy. I didn’t catch all of what he said, but a certain word describing something I would never do with my mother was a motif. His children watched us through the rear window of the Mercedes, as if they were watching a prize fight. I felt he was setting a bad example.
Buckingham ended with one of those “If you ever come near me and my family again” tough guy threats. Who did he think he was, Bruce Willis?
He climbed back into his car, slammed the door, and sped off. I thought about following him, but I figured I shouldn’t push it. No need to get arrested. I got what I was after.
It was exhilarating. I considered trying it with another celebrity right away. Maybe Bruce Willis. I was right next door to Tinsel Town, it shouldn’t be hard to find him.
Before I could devise a serious plan, my doctor called. Turns out I didn’t have cancer after all. The afternoon of my diagnosis, a careless X-ray tech had eaten a meatloaf sandwich in the hospital cafeteria. He was late getting back late from lunch and didn’t bother washing his hands. A bit of ketchup must have gotten on my X-ray. My doctor interpreted it as a shadow. It took a week to figure out the mistake.
So I went back to selling bicycles.
Too bad. I think I would have made a good stalker.