I’m not allowed to tell you about the time Diana Ross (!) called in to my company and asked for me (!). I was walking by the receptionist’s desk, having an unusually hectic morning, and I heard the words, “Ruth, Diana Ross is on the phone for you. Do you think it’s one of your friends joking around?” After a quick mental scan of that week’s jobs, I answered, “Nope. That would be the real Diana Ross. Ummmm . . . damn, tell her I’m in a meeting and send her to L___.”

Yeah, I dissed The Diva. And I’m not supposed to be telling anyone about it . . . . I suppose the only way to get away with mentioning it so far is to avoid offering any other details. Why was Diana Ross calling me? I could tell you, but I might lose my job.

I don’t know how my friends here in Los Angeles—one does massage therapy, another is a nurse for a plastic surgeon—can stand not being able to talk about all the Supah Stahs they touch on a regular basis. I would be so tempted to name drop all the time. The thing is, I don’t know why.

This little duel happens in my head every time the topic of fame comes up. A part of me just knows in her sweet Pollyanna soul that if people in developed countries (like us) spent a fraction of the energy they spent star-gawking on actually working towards a solution to problems like hunger, cancer, or pollution all of humanity would be living in utopia. And another part of me just can’t get over how damn cute little Suri Holmes-Cruise is.

Look, I don’t even watch TV (unless it’s my recently discovered vice-Top Chef, Criminal Intent-which my beau insists on having on 19 hours a day each weekend, or a hand full of other critically acclaimed pieces offered up on commercial-free DVD). So I’m not usually in tune with who’s famous–or why—and I like it that way. I’ve never seen American Idol nor do I intend to start watching. I don’t read People Magazine and when I’m in line at the grocery store, I avert my eyes (unless Suri’s on the cover).

Years ago, I was sitting at a restaurant bar enjoying a good book and one of the BackStreet Boys and his entourage sat right next to me. I had no clue until after they left when some girls from the other side of the room rushed over as if breathing some residual BackStreet carbon dioxide would magically impart better harmony. They wanted to know what it felt like to sit next to him.

When I go back east to visit family, my sister-in-law never forgets to ask, “Any recent star sightings?” 14 years living in West L.A. have afforded some:

Prince – coming out of “True Romance” at the Bruin Theater in West L.A.
(Within 24 hours of stepping foot in California my first time ever…. Come to think of it, this sighting deserves its own post.)

Jerry Seinfeld – Century City shopping mall

Peter Billingsly (the kid from A Christmas Story) – came out to dinner with us

Fabio – sat right next to us in the Century City movie theater
(The middle aged women around us were going nuts!)

Shaquille O’Neil – Brentano’s Books in Century City
(You would have thought Christ had come back, given the whispery excitement radiating around this giant human being.)

Sally Field – bookstore in Santa Monica Mall

One of the neighbors from One Day at a Time – Brentano’s books in Century City
(Does it count if I can’t remember their names?)

Martin Sheen – in traffic on Olympic Blvd.
(He was driving a big SUV, this was years before they weren’t P.C.)

Gary Busey – in traffic on Olympic Blvd.
(He was driving a motorcycle, and although helmetless, did not swerve)

Chris Penn – at the car repair shop at Olympic & Bundy
and also on the 3rd Street Promenade

Willow from Buffy – Restoration Hardware on the 3rd Street Promenade
and also at Petco in Brentwood

Eddie Murphy—Houston’s in Century City

Pat Sajack – LAX

Tim Roth – on a plane at LAX

Tom Hanks – Urban Outfitters on the 3rd Street Promenade
and also at work
and also hiking with his wife & son in Will Rogers State Historic Park

Maria Shriver – at Will Rogers State Historic Park

Arnold Schwarzenegger – (different day) at Will Rogers State Historic Park

Tom Cruise – roller blading on the bike path at Santa Monica beach

Jeff Daniels – Santa Monica mall food court

Mr. & Mrs. Ozzy Osbourne – Brentano’s Books in Century City

Chris Rock (By the way if you google the words “chris comedian” as I just did, Chris Rock is the first entry that comes up. Now that’s success.) – also at Century City mall

Tristan Rogers – Barney’s Beanery in Hollywood

Pierce Brosnan – at work (he’s better looking in person)

Gus Van Sant – at work

Robin Leach – at work

Gary Shandling – at work

Larry David – at work

Joaquin Phoenix – at work (* said “Hey” to me)

Snoop Dog – at work (* said “Hey” to me)

You may think my work sightings don’t count, but I’m clinging to them because they bring me to my next point. Which is . . . .

Why on earth is this so exciting? It is exciting to me. I have to admit it; and the Pollyanna self I described earlier is embarrassed by the fact that her other half (my Suri-watching self) gets absolutely tickled in the presence of widely recognizable people.

Which reminds me of probably the best star sighting ever. 1986. At a restaurant called Potomac near the river in D.C. – Warren Beatty walking arm in arm with his sister, Shirley McClain. We had a table on the terrace, so we were able to watch them out of the corners of our eyes strolling around taking in the view of water by moonlight. I think they were with their mother, but I’m not sure. After all, she’s not famous.

Ruth, 38, Los Angeles, USA