Hudson Valley Celebrity Sightings: How to Miss the Clintons, Paul Rudd, Kevin Bacon, Mary Tyler Moore, and Liam Neeson Like a Pro (Opinion Column)

More than a pleasant pastime, people-watching in the Valley is an all-out war



Call me a loser. No, wait — make that a loser.
No matter how much I snoop and peek and gawk when I am out and about, I never win at the game that all Hudson Valleyites play, whether they admit to it or not.

The game is called “Celebrity Sightings,” and the people who say that such activity is beneath them are really cutthroat competitors who cannot be trusted. “The rich and famous don’t impress me,” they say — then casually mention that they spotted Kevin Bacon at a party; that they have done odd jobs at Mary Tyler Moore’s estate; or that they dropped into the bookstore while Liam Neeson was browsing the shelves.

Meanwhile, the clueless like me do our best to keep up.

“Kevin Bacon? Well, listen to this,” I sputter in desperation. “The father in the Home Alone movies joined our town pool one year and helped in the snack bar and even made us bagels one day!”

“Bagels? Really? How impressive,” they sniff as if they’d just stepped in Fido’s lawn offerings.

I should stop there because by then it’s obvious I’m losing another round of Celebrity Sightings. But I can’t help myself.

 “Plus, I keep seeing a guy on the train who’s in lots of commercials,” I continue.

  “What commercials?” my fellow players demand.

  “Laxative commercials,” I answer as the red glow of shame creeps up my face. “He’s in laxative commercials.”

  Sigh.

  There was a time when I thought I had a chance because I’d seen original Saturday Night Live cast members at various places. But that only impressed people who, like me, had closed out the books on their 40s.

  “OMG!” I burst into the house one night. “Chevy Chase was at the same restaurant as we were in Woodstock!”

  “Chevy what? Chasing who?” my 20-something kids replied. “Had a few drinks, huh Mom?”
I didn’t even bother telling them about Jane Curtain. I saw her at a Rhinebeck theater and had to be restrained by my husband from yelling out that early SNL catchphrase: “Jane, you ignorant slut!”

  Last summer was my biggest defeat of all when the Celebrity-Palooza — otherwise known as the nuptials of Chelsea Clinton — came to Rhinebeck.

  The pros staked out their street corners. Not only did they see a bunch of celebrities, but the Father of the Bride strolled about, shook hands, and had lots of pictures taken. And where was I?

  I was in &$#% New Jersey. Of all places.

  All year long, I’ve had to listen to Bill Clinton stories, and all I’ve had to offer was that Paul Rudd (an actor some of you will know and some won’t) was seen in my local ice cream shop getting a cone.

  Was I there that day? Yes.

  Was I there at the same time? Take a wild guess.

  I missed him by five minutes, according to the starry-eyed scoop girl who waited on both of us.

  It appears my fate is sealed and I might as well accept it. I will forever be on the B-list of players in Hudson Valley Celebrity Sightings.

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