Well, from the title of this post, you can probably gather that I didn't have the stay-in-and-have-time-to-myself-to-watch-tv-and-order-greasy-Chinese weekend that I had anticipated for myself.
Instead, I kind of made a new friend.
His name is Justin Long.
And I spent the weekend hanging out with him.
Okay, so there's a couple things you should know before we continue this post. The first is that I knew Justin was in town for the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and I had been anxiously hoping to bump into him at some point. I tend to get a little (okay, a lot) starstruck, but in Justin's case I actually really am a big fan (and apparently one of the few, from people either thinking he's a jerk, which is entirely untrue by the way, or not knowing many of his movies). So, this wasn't just a case of ohmygodit'sacelebrity, but I was genuinely excited to interact with him and just get to know him as a person.
Okay. Deep breath. (I still can't believe these words as I type them.)
So, Friday night certainly began like I had imagined it would. L. and I got dinner with a couple of the alums who had trickled into town already, but most weren't arriving until about 8 or 9pm. After dinner, the boys announced they were going to do their own thing for awhile, so I said goodbye and headed back to L.'s and my room. Unfortunately, the boys did their own thing in the common room right off L.'s and my room, so I literally sat in my room, listening to them all have fun, and as the hours wore on quite honestly I was a little peeved. L. had said he'd come get me when they weren't doing their own thing anymore, but by 11pm, I had had it. I called my friend Rachel, who's from Williamstown, and asked her if she wanted to go to the bar. She picked me up and I just strolled out of my room past the guys' party and went off with Rachel. Good riddance.
Feeling happier and in control, Rachel and I arrived at the bar. She had apparently been meeting a gentleman friend there and I felt super awkward for basically going on their date, so I went up to the bar to order a drink. I asked my favorite bartender, Phil, if he had seen Justin Long yet.
"Oh, he's here right now," said Phil, nonchalantly.
"Don't lie to me, Phil," I said.
"I promise you. He's out back."
Well, that was that. Armed with my Soco and Coke and essentially dragging Rachel and her friend behind me, we sauntered outside, where I immediately spotted him, looking super casual and approachable in a denim jacket and low-tops. And then proceeded to stand in a group and nibble my stirrer nervously for about a half hour. Because that was the thing. I wasn't going to be a jerk and saunter up to him and give him some variation of the, "I'm sorry, I'm just a really, really big fan!" or "I loved you in _____" or "Aren't you Justin Long?" And I decided that if we couldn't have an organic meeting, then I didn't want to make a fool of myself by forcing one.
My friend Andrew and I had begun rapidly texting about these developing events, and he pushed me to just walk up to him and say anything, saying I'd really regret if I didn't. But I decided that I'd rather never get to meet him at all, than be completely unoriginal.
Meanwhile, L. texted me that he had come to the room to see if I wanted to come out and join the boys, only to find that I was gone, and where was I? Well clearly bigger and better things were afoot, so I simply texted back, "Justin Long!!!" L. knew exactly what that meant, and gathered up our friends Moyukh and Zeb and made his way over. At that point, Justin went back inside, and so as not to feel like a total jerk for inviting the boys to come survey the sitch with me only for them to discover there was no sitch to be had, Rachel and I went back in to see if he was still there. When he was nowhere to be seen, we figured he had left and that we had missed our chance. That is, until the boys came bounding down the stairs, all smiles.
"We just met him. I shook his hand" said L.
Of COURSE. They waltz right in and immediately get to meet Justin. (To be fair, it was in the men's room...the one place I would never, at least legally and/or sanely, be able to meet him.)
But then something wonderful happened.
Justin came back down the stairs and our little group, of which he had already met three, was fortuitously placed in the narrow walkway between the front of the bar and the outside patio. Which means he had to walk by us to get there. Which means we got introductions. We spent about 15 minutes going over the basic introductory conversation topics (what we were studying at Williams, how Justin's rehearsals were going, what we were doing this summer, etc.) Justin's really bad at names, so it was actually really funny when we threw the "Zeb" and "Moyukh" curveballs at him. The best part was that he kept calling L. "Luca" rather than "Lucas." And even though it was pretty non-groundbreaking, when Justin walked away a little while later to go say goodbye to his friends still outside, I knew Andrew was right, and I was super glad to have met him.
Our little group excitedly gathered at the end of the bar to debrief the situation and order a couple more drinks. We debated just calling it a night, since the bar was about to close, but that's when Justin came back. This time, we all hung out for a much longer period of time, and our conversation was anything but generic. We invited Justin to the party the Octet boys were throwing the next night, and he and L. exchanged phone numbers (!) so we could all meet up on Saturday. In fact, Luke even put him in his phone as "Justin Long," and Justin just said hey dude, not to be uncool but do you mind just keeping it as "Justin"? That's when we knew it was his real number.
As we were walking home that night after we had stayed with Justin at the bar until after closing (and after hugging goodbye, complete with an adorable faux-awkward inching-toward-one-another hug by Justin and L.), L. told us that at one point, while Rachel and I had gone to the bathroom, Justin had said, "Those girls are REALLY cute." L. responded, "The brunette is my girlfriend," to which Justin said, "Nice!" Cue arm-flapping, jumping up and down, and "ohmygodjustinlongthinksi'mpretty!" over and over again.
L. and I spent most of the day apart on Saturday, so I decided it would be the perfect time to order some pizza for dinner and watch He's Just Not That Into You, which I've seen before, but I thought it might be extra fun to watch my new friend onscreen. And it totally was. I had to keep pinching myself! (Oh, and in case you're wondering--Justin is nothing like his character in the movie. So much nicer.) When he got back around 7pm, we decided to text Justin the plans for the party that night. He responded almost immediately and said that he was actually thinking of stopping by another party a couple miles away, across the street from where he was living for the summer, and did we want to go with him? We texted the group to consult and decided that, even though we had NO idea what we were getting ourselves into, we'd just do it. You only live once.
We all gathered around 10, after Justin had texted us that he was heading over, and got in the car to drive over. We had NO idea what to expect. We decided it could either be some sort of classy wine and cheese schmooze, or a gross smoky kegger. Or anything in between.
When we turned onto his street, we were a lot more unsure. Cars were literally lining the street across from this huge house with a dark walkway surrounded by tiki torches. We drove down the pitch-black, woodsy street looking for a parking spot for probably about half a mile, and there was not an inch of the street that didn't have a car parked on it. "What did we get ourselves INTO?" we asked one another, simultaneously nervous, awkward, and excited.
When we finally found a place to park the car and cut the lights, it was pitch black. We couldn't even see one another. More than a little apprehensive, we approached the house cautiously. It was only when we heard "Bad Romance" blaring that we decided it must be okay. As we debated whether to knock or just walk in, to our relief we noticed that the majority of the party was outside around a bonfire, and that the "house" was actually a restored barn with a super classy bar, food, and a ceiling strung with white lights. Oh, and the party was Dirty Dancing themed. In case I forgot to mention.
We spotted Justin by the bonfire (and no, by this point the excitement and the little butterflies in my stomach had not gotten old), and headed inside to grab drinks. We walked back outside and were surprised to see that for all the middle-aged people swaying around on the dance floor, there were just as many children running around excitedly. We had absolutely no idea what this party was for--but we did know that everyone else was in semi-formal attire, and we absolutely were not.
Finally, Justin spotted us and came over, sheepishly apologizing for the "hoppin'" party he had invited us to. I remarked that it felt exactly like a wedding reception, and he laughed and said I was exactly right. Somehow we all got to trading funny stories, and Justin had us dying of laughter when he told us a story about Jonah Hill, who he used to room with, and a game he likes to play called "Earthquake." Apparently, Jonah likes to go up behind his friends while they're doing their thang at the urinal, grab their shoulders, and shout "Earthquake!" while shaking them back and forth vigorously. This was all well and good, until one night when Justin and Jonah were out and Jonah thought he spotted one of their friends in the bathroom. He went up and performed the Earthquake, until the guy turned around...and it wasn't their friend at all, but in fact, Casey Affleck. I'm still so happy to have discovered what a funny and genuinely nice guy Justin is.
The party got very tired, so we all decided to head to the Octet party, and Justin and some of his fellow Williamstown Theatre Festival friends decided to go to the bar, but we said we'd meet up later. Another really great moment was when we were walking back to our cars and this guy who had been passed out upright in a chair at the party attempted to ride his scooter home. Justin tried really hard to call out to him and get him to stop when he was driving away, but all we could do was nervously watch his taillights swerve down the dark street until they were out of sight. We all felt a little uneasy knowing he was on the road, but I was just so impressed with Justin's initiative. If I ever hear anyone say anything negative about him again, which I do from time to time, this will be the first example I cite.
The Octet party was a little disjointed and awkward, so our group decided to head back to the bar. We didn't even approach Justin when we came in, opting to give him some space, and instead got a couple of pitchers and headed to a little table. It was so nice to just hang out and catch up. We joked that this experience we had had together would bond us for life. After sitting down for awhile we all got up again and at that point Justin came back over to chat. He offered to buy some drinks but I would never have let him buy one for me--if anything, I owe HIM a drink! He invited us to one more party which happened to be right in the quad with the building we were staying in, so we decided we'd check it out and then head home. When we got there, however, there was only a smattering of people scattered around the courtyard. Justin, once again, sheepishly approached us and said "Once again, I've led you astray." But in reality, it was such a beautiful night out, and it was great to just stand in a group and chat and hang out.
That's when a couple of the Octet alums decided to join us and meet Justin for themselves, which unfortunately did not go as well as it could have. We decided that the reasons we got along so well with Justin and why he enjoyed hanging out with us were because we did not talk about 1. his movies, 2. actors he'd worked with, 3. his dating life, 4. anything super generic. In fact, we traded hilarious stories and really just felt comfortable with him. Too bad the alums didn't know our unofficial rules. At one point, while Justin was clearly being a little flirtatious with Rachel (to which I say LUCKY BEEZY), one of the alums mumbled something about Drew Barrymore. The energy rapidly changed in the group as Justin snapped to him and demanded to know what he had said. He even got up really close to him. The alum tried to back out of it ("I was really drunk, I don't remember what I said,") but Justin had heard it. He turned back to us, nice as ever, but announced that it was time for him to get going. The alum-who-shall-go-nameless kept saying "I ruined it, I ruined it," but he had clearly broken one of the rules--you're just a jerk if you ask about those things, and Justin was totally right to be pissed, for whatever reason. The truth is none of them were overly enthused about Justin. They all just assumed he was another jerk celebrity, and weren't impressed--they didn't realize we had actually begun to develop a friendship with him.
Sad that Justin had been scared away but otherwise overwhelmed and happy with the way things had gone over the weekend, we all headed home. While we were debriefing in the entrance of our dorm, a group of guys overheard us and immediately began trashing Justin. I had no problem being completely cold to them and leaving. After this weekend especially, I am so sick of people who judge a celebrity by his or her roles or by the media gossip they hear about him or her. In fact, apparently one of our Williams classmates, according to Justin, walked up to him at the bar last week and told him that he was a jerk, that he probably thought he could get any girl in the bar, and that he wasn't as cool as he thought he was. When Justin, clearly puzzled since he had known this girl all of three seconds, asked where she was basing her accusations, the best answer she could come up with? "Well, you know, from your movies." To which Justin obviously replied, "Okay, but uh, you know that's...not...me...right?"
Justin's play is opening on the 8th and we're super excited to go support our new friend as he makes small-scale theatre rather than a big movie, which we totally respect. I know situations like this are going to be all the more frequent when I move to LA next year, but I'm glad that even when other people stick their feet in their mouths or are completely disrespectful to celebrities that they think they know everything about, I was able to have the chance to actually get to know a really awesome, average guy.