Sunday, November 2, 2008

I was the president of the Intergenerational Club in high school

Oh, yes, I was.

What exactly IS an Intergenerational Club?

We hung-out with senior citizens.

I have always really loved senior citizens! We even had a little Theatre Troupe. We used to do skits with old people to bridge the gap between the generations. 80-year-old and 17-year-old eye each other in the grocery store...Senior Citizen comments, "You can't go anywhere without seeing some strange-looking teenager!" Teenager would reply, "They shouldn't let those old people drive!"

Our acting skills were just GOLDEN.

(And when I was in middle school, I was part of the Pride Club: Senior Citizen division. You had to pick a track...either homeless people, disabled children or senior citizens. Nobody EVER wanted to work with the senior citizens. It was sad!)

I never really grew-up with grandparents. Both of my grandmothers were gone before I was born, and my mom's dad died when I was really little, and my dad's dad when I was in the fifth grade. I have always been very sad that I haven't had grandparents in my life, and rather envious that it always seemed like everybody around me did have them. (And some even got to know their GREAT-grandparents!) It seems a bit unfair that I never had that, and lost a parent at a young age.

So...the next best thing was being the president (and sometimes, the only member!) of the Intergenerational Club.

Hanging-out with those senior citizens helped fill the lack of grandparents in my life, and also indulged my obsession with the 1940' were people that were actually YOUNG IN THE 1940's!!!!! Something that I always wished I could be!

They saw Frank Sinatra when he was in his twenties!

They watched Rita Hayworth movies in the theatre!

They celebrated the end of World War II in Times Square!

They did all those things I would never, ever get to do!

And, every so often, I come across an older celebrity that I wish I could adopt as a grandparent or a great-aunt or uncle.

Such as Jerry Stiller.

Gosh, I love that guy!

While The King of Queens is a funny show on its own, I definitely find myself drifting a bit if it isn't an Arthur-centric episode.

Two days after I was laid-off (from my first job out of college...a job that meant the WORLD to me...)in March 2007, my sister and I took a trip to San Francisco and watched hours of the show on the airplane.

When I was sad and depressed and frustrated after I lost that job...Jerry Stiller as Arthur Spooner was one of the few things that was able to make me smile.

I work in a job where I come into contact with many celebrities. I have learned not to bat an eye or react to them at all. After all, they are just people and I need to be professional...(even if it means you have to put them on hold, run around the office and squeal a bit, and return to the phone.)

I have never admitted to anybody that I was a big fan.

I made an exception when I picked-up the phone one day and Jerry Stiller's assistant was on the other end.

Jerry Stiller's personal assistant!

Yes, THE Jerry Stiller!

I told her that I loved his memoir, staff-recommended it when I worked at the bookstore (then again, maybe that doesn't say so much...when the movie The Passion of the Christ came-out, I staff-rec'ed the Bible and wrote NOW A HIT FILM!!! on the card. I thought it was pretty funny.)

I told her I was a huge huge fan.

She asked me for my address.

(Meanwhile, my coworker asked, "Should I be concerned about this great love you have for Jerry Stiller???")

And yesterday, I get a completely WONDERFUL note from Mr. Stiller and a stack of signed photos, all personalized to me.

Now, it's always quite nice to learn that a celebrity you enjoy is also a nice person, (such as the Harry Connick, Jr. story of 1996) and I'd like to thank Mr. Stiller for the lovely signed photos and for being as delightful in person as he is on screen and on paper!

Mr. Jerry Stiller, you can live in my basement ANY time!

(And I think Christine Taylor is one lucky girl. She gets to marry a nice guy like Ben Stiller, and her kids get Jerry as a grandpa!!!)

Diana Rissetto