October 21, 1956 - December 27, 2016
I dropped any plans I had and immediately got in line to meet her.
As a life long Star Wars fan having seen the original film in Hollywood its opening day, Fisher has always been a crush of mine. Through all the Star Wars films, her cameo in The Blues Brothers, co-starring in When Harry Met Sally and more. This was one of the first opportunities I'd ever had to meet her face to face. So I marched to the back of a lengthy line of people to chat her up. I discovered the wait time was in excess of an hour but that didn't matter to me: This was Carrie Fisher! Princess Leia Organa herself! I was every bit the excited fanboy as I anxiously did my time in line.
As the line snaked along, she looked up on occasion at the crowds around her. During one such peek, I caught her eye. Or at least it appeared I had. She did a double take when she saw me and I knew in that instant there was no doubt we had made eye contact! I felt my stomach do a flip and I steeled myself to appear aloof yet interested as she looked my way. And then it was back to the business of the fans before her.
But for the next 45 minutes, she continuously gazed at me, sometimes craning her neck to see where I was. The across-the-room confidence I figured I'd better start showing might have done the trick, I thought. But with her obvious stares towards me every few minutes, I began to get nervous. And soon it got a little uncomfortable.
Why was she looking at me so intently I wondered? Was there someone behind me she noticed and I simply misread her interest? I checked at one point and turned when she looked once again but, when I swung back around, there was no doubt she was looking directly at me.
I had to get to the bottom of this. The next time we made eye contact I pointed at myself and mouthed "Me?" to her. I saw her smile and nod imperceptibly. I remember I began perspiring right then and there.
Minute by minute I moved nearer and nearer to where she was sitting, shaking folks hands and smiling and talking. As I got even closer I noticed the looks she was giving me became less and less frequent. Something was up, something unknown to me. This silent awareness was going to my head and I was mere minutes from finding out what it was all about.
She looked over at me one final time - I was a dozen or so people from her - and she concentrated on everyone before me. No more looks came my way. But you could see it in her demeanor; there was some kind of electricity in the air between the two of us and I was caught up in it, trying to control my excitement. For all I knew she was focusing on doing the same.
I gave the guy in front of me space to make his acquaintance with her before it was my turn. I was patient, unassuming and pressuring myself with an overall calm, hoping my elation wasn't showing.
Then, the guy moved away and I sauntered up to Carrie.
She kept her head down as I approached, waiting until I was directly in front of her. I saw her snap the cover of a Sharpie back onto the pen she had in her lap then slowly look up at me, a huge grin on her face, her eyes wide.
She looked at me for a moment, smiling ear to ear. Then she spoke: "Bruce! What are you doing here ... ??!?"
Naturally, I stumbled at her question. I smiled back at her and confessed: "Uhm ... I'm sorry, I'm not Bruce ..."
"You're not?!?" she blurted, somewhat taken aback.
I recognized the opportunity and jumped on it. "Would you like me to be?" I offered.
She was obviously embarrassed. She blushed, laughed and apologized. "All this time, seeing you standing in line, I thought you were an old acquaintance of mine I haven't seen in years. You look exactly like him. I'm sorry I was staring at you all this time ..."
"Not a problem ... and no apology necessary," I said. "Your looks were somewhat disarming but in a rather agreeable and exciting way."
I told her my name and talked to her a few minutes. Not long afterward she pulled out a color glossy of herself as Princess Leia in slave garb. "Well, I have to sign this 'with love' to you for my embarrassing behavior," she told me.
I didn't argue.
Thank you for the wonderful memory, Carrie. Rest in peace.