True story: In the mid-2000’s, in New York City, I ran into André 3000 at a juice bar. And made a fool of myself because I had a terrible headache and couldn’t think straight.
It was one of those early spring evenings when I was habitually “walking off” a migraine. On days like this, when the innards of my head felt engulfed in hellflames, I would wander around Manhattan as a form of distraction, to pass the time. I would walk for hours: back and forth, in circles around parks, in rectangles through the grid, while barely registering what was going on around me, basically in a stupor. It beats rolling around on the floor loudly cursing: at least this way, I would get a little exercise and fresh air while I wait out the firestorm in my skull.
And so, one day I am taking one such walk and I’m in a particularly bad shape because it’s been a whole week of migraines and I’m exhausted and overmedicated. On a whim, I decide to treat my suffering organism to a shot of wheatgrass juice. It’s supposed to be good for overall vitality and I am low on feeling alive. So, I stumble into a juice bar somewhere on Fifth Ave and, slurring my speech, place an order for a double shot of the green stuff.
At this time, André 3000 walks in. He also orders wheatgrass juice. The place is almost empty: it’s just André 3000, me and a young female employee who I can see is quietly having a star-struck moment.
Now, it just so happens that I was literally listening to “Roses” on my mp3 player just a couple of minutes earlier. So, when I see André 3000, I experience a bit of cognitive dissonance, like, wow, you were just in my ears and now you’re in my eyes! Wat.
We both shoot our drinks standing at the counter and he starts talking to me. He tells me about how he’s recently become vegan and can’t get enough of wheatgrass juice. My head is swimming with pain but, so far, I am pulling off this interaction because all I really need to do is smile, nod and say “I love it too!” once or twice. But as the conversation develops, my overextended brain cannot keep up. My eyes are heavy and my speech is messed up. You’ve heard of potty mouth? Well, I got me a full-blown case of putty mouth.
“By the way, my name is Dré,” he says, “I’m in this musical group, you may have heard of us…” At this point, inside my mind, I’m gushing: “Hell yeah, I know who you are, André 3000 of Outkast! It’s crazy, I was juuuust listening to your jam! It’s so cool to meet you!” But between the marshmallow brain and the cottonmouth, I can articulate nothing.
So, instead of saying any of that or introducing myself, I mumble, in slow motion: “Hiiiiii. I knooow yooouuu. Youuu’reeee faaaaaamous.” Mind you, I drawl out those lame words while repeatedly pointing my finger between André 3000 and the tiny mp3 player strapped to my coat. As if to say: “I heard you in that thing, I know you from in there, Famous Guy.”
The juice bar clerk is giving me the WTF eyes from behind the counter, like, great form, idiot. Like, how are you losing this poker game with a royal flush in your hand? André 3000 is still talking to me for some reason and goes on to say something like: “I’m heading to this party. It’s at [such-and-such address on Madison Ave]. I’m not from around here. Can you help me find it?”
Cool, that’s pretty much an invitation. “Of course, I know where that is, André 3000! It’s just a few blocks away, no worries, I’ll take you there!” is what I am saying in some recess of my inflamed mind dedicated to wishful thinking.
And what do I say out loud?
“Tuuuuuuuuurrrrr…….Uuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… Ittt’ssssssss…. THATAWAY!!”
As I childishly blurt out that last word, I fling my arm with pointed index finger definitively toward the front door of the establishment. It’s basically the same gesture as “get the hell outta here, you bastard!” Alas, that is all the “directions” I got in me right now in this state. I’m pretty sure I hear the juice bar clerk facepalm hard…
…Oh timing, wherefore art thou so cruel!? Looking back, I must say, André 3000 must be a super nice person because his noble face showed neither judgment nor ridicule (unlike the juice bar clerk who was visibly embarrassed for me.) He politely thanked me and simply went on his way. As he exited through the door I was so aggressively pointing at a moment ago, all I could do was steady myself against a table, wipe off the drool pooling at the corner of my mouth and whimper: “Have fun”. The juice bar clerk did not make eye contact and retired to the back until I skulked away into the night in defeat. Like an outcast.
This was neither the first nor the last time lucky, fun opportunities would get extinguished by a migraine for me. I tell you what, though: if it hadn’t been for all that interference, this episode would’ve gone differently.
First of all, I would not have fumbled every word that came out of my mouth: this would have been the most charming and quick-witted conversation about wheatgrass ever.
And then, after giving him verbal directions to the party just so that he doesn’t feel lost any more, I would gallantly offer André 3000 my arm and say:
“What do you think? Shall we go?”
And he would instantly know that I’m familiar with his work. And he’d give me that half nod / half wink — like Caroline gives to that dapper fellow at the end of the “Roses” video — like, yeah, for sure, let’s blow this joint.
And I’d be like:
“Take one final look at the past, André 3000… Aaand we’re out.”