In the autumn of 1994, I was a new mother who had recently relocated to Iowa. In the autumn of 1994, Meryl Streep was Meryl Streep, and she was in Iowa filming “The Bridges of Madison County” with Clint Eastwood. It’s like we were living parallel lives!
Lifestyle of the Middle Class and Obscure
If not for the fact I had a suckling babe in arms, I would have tried to get on as an extra in the movie adaptation of the book, which had swept the nation. Alas, my movie career was put on hold (though I am currently available and am willing to consider any scripts you might want to send me). Since I wasn’t going to meet Meryl on set, I went about my life of unpacking, nursing the aforementioned suckling babe, and watching, “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee”. When my husband’s boss offered to take us out to eat one Sunday with his family, I checked my busy social calendar, confirmed that “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” didn’t air on Sundays in Iowa either, and said, “Heck, yeah! Free food and adult conversation–count me in!”
Regis and Katie Lee–the best friends I had in Iowa.
Queen of Drama, Meet Drama Queen
We went to a place called Lone Star, which was ironic, since we had just moved from Texas. While we waited for our food, we chatted. Having the good sense to realize no one wanted to hear about my chapped nipples or Kathie Lee’s stories about Cody and Cassidy, I vaguely remember talking about how the locals were counting Clint Eastwood sightings, but how no one had spotted Meryl Streep. Never let it be said I don’t hold my own as a conversationalist. That’s when I glanced at the people sitting in a booth near our table. There appeared to be three generations of women enjoying their meal. I noted the grandmother and little girl and then turned my attention to the mother. As God as my witness, here’s what I thought:
Wow! She’s really pretty. It’s a shame she doesn’t wear some makeup because that woman could be stunning!
I tried to stop looking at her, but my eyes kept going back to her flawless skin sans cosmetics. I saw her notice me noticing her–the gorgeous woman eating ribs. I saw her mouth to her mother that my baby was cute. As God continuing as my witness, here’s what I thought:
Hey, that pretty makeup-free lady with excellent taste in babies sort of looks like Meryl Streep! OH, MY STARS! IT’S HER! IT’S MERYL STREEP!!!!
Trust me. She’s even prettier in person. Like pretty enough to stare at in a restaurant pretty!
Oh, Lucy! You’ve Got Some Splainin’ to Do!
That’s when I tried to nonchalantly point her out to everyone at my table. Then I went into full-on Lucy-Ricardo-just-spotted-a-celebrity mode. Do you remember when Lucy spotted Bill Holden at the Brown Derby? Yeah. It was like that. I swear, this story should end by having me light my fake nose on fire and dunking it in cup of coffee. But it doesn’t. I could not stop gawking at the winner of a bazillion Oscars who thought my baby was cute. I mean, I tried to be all cool, but it seemed to be a physical impossibility. I wondered if Meryl Streep would care to discuss my chapped nipples. Holy Academy Award Winner, she probably knew Regis and Kathie Lee! There was so much we could talk about! I’m not proud of it, but I watched her visibly squirm and mouth something to the grandmotherly lady at her table.
I wanted to scream, “Meryl! It’s okay! I’m not really psychotic! Stay and enjoy your ribs!”
I wanted to hold up my baby like that monkey in “The Lion King” who also played Benson held up little Simba. I wanted to yell, “Hey, Meryl! Look at the cute baby! Do you want to hold him because you can totally hold him?! Look! He’s wearing a hat!”
Meryl! Look! Look at the cute baby, Meryl!
Stick to Your Ribs (Napkin)
Meryl Streep and her very small all-girl entourage left the restaurant. Quickly. You might think that was enough to make me come to my senses, but you might think wrong. Lucy Ricardo was physically drawn to the vacant booth. I wanted something to remember her by–a straw, a coffee stirrer, anything! The waiter came up and asked if I needed something.
“Yes! I NEED something Meryl Streep touched!!!”
With a look that was part amusement and part disgust, the waiter said, “Here. Just take it,” and handed me Meryl Streep’s cloth, rib napkin. He might have thought I wouldn’t take it, but he might have thought wrong!
If you don’t get messy eating B-B-Q, you’re not doing it right!
That is why I have had Meryl Streep’s barbecue saucy DNA in a plastic box in my attic for almost 22 years. If anything ever happens to her. Don’t worry. We can totally clone a new one.
My sample also contains a large amount of barbecue sauce, circa 1994.