Celebrity Spotting: A Lesson in Using Code Phrases

We rode the bus on Saturday with Denis Simpson.  Think you don’t know who that is?  If you’re a Canadian and born before 1990, I guarantee you do.  Remember Polka Dot Door?  Yeah, THAT Denis.  Did you also know he was the original bass vocalist for the Nylons?  Nope, neither did I.

I was 99% sure that it was Denis when he boarded the bus.  So sure in fact that I dared Thomas to call out “Denis!” and see what happened.  Surprisingly he refused.

Before that dare, however, I had to point Denis out to Thomas and ask his opinion about whether or not THAT MIGHT BE DENIS we were riding the bus with, in a surreptitious fashion that would not a) arouse suspicion, or b) make me look like an idiot.

Luckily, during our years here in Vancouver – two of which we spent living in the heart of the downtown peninsula – we have developed a code to deal with just this situation.  And the code is this: Me, looking at Thomas, and saying very gravely, “My bag is heavy.”

That’s it. Every time I spot a celebrity, instead of gesticulating wildly or trying unsuccessfully to talk out of the side of my mouth, I simply turn to Thomas and say, “My bag is heavy.”  Or in this case, “My bag is POSSIBLY heavy,” because I needed a second opinion on the “weight of my bag.”

This code was finally instated after several occurrences of my having spotted a celebrity, and Thomas completely missing it because he was too busy trying to figure out if my raised eyebrows, widened eyes, “covert” finger pointing and muffled, but insistent, “MMMPHS!” were signs of a seizure.  I would see Kandyse McClure walking towards us on Denman Street and rapidly turn and try to point her out to Thomas.  She would walk by and Thomas would still be looking at me with great concern saying “Alexis, what is WRONG with you.”  Dualla is not a word that can be successfully conveyed in an undertone with your lips pressed together.

In fact, I think that Denis was the first celebrity I ever successfully pointed out to Thomas without him reaching for his phone to dial 911.  Other people I have seen (but he has not) include Natasha Henstridge, Aaron Ashmore, and David Orth.  Not A-List by any means, or even, well, B-list, and David Orth’s name took me FOREVER to track down because I knew I recognized his face but didn’t know where from (turns out:  that cable TV version of The Lost World).  On that particular sighting, David Orth walked passed us in Kits(ilano) and Thomas was all “Why are you squeezing my hand so hard?”  That was the day we developed the heavy bag code.

Thomas was the one who proposed the heavy bag phrase.  We had agreed that we needed to find a phrase that I could say (since the question of HIS spotting a celeb and needing a code phrase was a moot point) that wouldn’t sound too bizarre if overheard.  He may have suggested heavy PURSE, but he did so in ignorance of the fact that modern women do not carry purses.  We carry BAGS, handbags maybe, and clutches on rare occasions.

On the Denis occasion, as we were on our way to see a matinee of the Arts Club’s production of Les Misérables and then to dinner, I was in fact carrying a clutch.  And because it’s been several months since we lived downtown, and even longer since our last ?-list celeb sighting, Thomas at first asked me how my bag could POSSIBLY be heavy, given that it was tiny and didn’t have the capacity to even approach significant weight.  I had to stare at him extra hard, with extra gravity, while I repeated “My bag is POSSIBLY heavy,” and turn slowly to look at Denis, who was seated near us at the back of the bus, and then turn slowly back and look meaningfully at Thomas before the code sank in.

You’ll remember that the whole point of this code was to avoid me looking like a crazy person (in public) by using a phrase that wouldn’t sound strange.  Of course, when we created the code, I was carrying a LARGE bag, not a clutch, and the person I was referring to was well out of earshot, not sitting next to us on a bus.  Mission accomplished!

Maybe Denis didn’t notice, or maybe he did, and he’s just used to being referred to as a heavy bag by members of the public who would fail pathetically at covert ops.  When we got off the bus, a man walked straightforwardly up to him and asked if he was Denis.  He replied that he was.

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  1. By harold on July 29, 2014 at 2:20 am

    beautifully@stores.citybred” rel=”nofollow”>.…


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