Sunday, October 28, 2007

x365: 27 of 365: bryan adams

One day my boss comes in to the store and tells me that Bryan Adams will be dropping by later on. He's a collector like me, my boss says, and I think Bryan Adams is a collector completely unlike you. My boss looks a bit like Groucho Marx on steroids.

He hands me two CDs of Bryan Adams music and two toy guitars. Get him to sign these, he says, and adds: you give him whatever he wants. I say Of course, not understanding that what ordinary people want is not remotely similar to what celebrities expect as their due.

Later that afternoon a very compact Bryan Adams enters the store, accompanied by a girl dressed in something black and complicated. I've never seen a bona fide celebrity up close before, and I'm amazed at how carefully detailed Adams is. His clothing is simple but fitted to his body with precision. The jacket and pants match the colour of his hair perfectly, which is in turn arranged just so, with each hair snipped to its correct length. He looks like a statuette, as if he were his own award for being Bryan Adams.

Celebrities are premeditated people.

I say hello and let him know to ask me if has any questions or needs. He doesn't exactly look at me, but he gets an expression like he's just thrown up in his mouth a bit. I decide to ignore him unless it's absolutely necessary. After a few minutes in the stacks, he comes out with an antiquarian French book on Tunisia. He tells the girl and a man with a British accent, who has the look of a manager who's slowly slid into the position of friend, that it will be perfect for a French friend of his. Then he flips the book open and points to the price.

What's this? Bryan Adams says.

I look. That's a fifty, I say.

Look closer, he says.

I already know what he's talking about, but I look anyway. Beneath the penciled-in fifty, there's a rubbed-out thirty-five.

The book was once priced thirty-five dollars, I say. That may have the listed price at a previous book store.

I'm not paying fifty dollars for a thirty-five dollar book, Bryan Adams announces, like I've tried to serve him cat food instead of paté.

There is a brief silence.

No problem, I say.

So what can you do for me? he asks.

Give him whatever he wants. Sure, why not.

How does twenty-five dollars sound?

Okay, he nods.

Great! I say, thinking pay and get out now please. That's twenty-five dollars and a dollar seventy-five GST* for a total of twenty-six seventy-five.

Adams places twenty-five dollars on the counter.

I don't pay GST, Bryan Adams says.**

I'm sorry? I say. The girl and the manager are darting their eyes around. Bryan Adams is scowling. I'm realizing that this is not one of those crazy stories where the celebrity encounters the guy at the bookstore and invites him to be part of his wacky entourage.

I don't pay GST, he repeats.***

At this, I have nothing to say. It's less than two bucks, but it seems so tiny and petty that I can't relent. Maybe my boss and Bryan are tight, and I'll be fired at the end of the day, but all I can think is pay the damn tax already.

In the end the manager breaks. He digs in his pocket and pulls out the change. Bryan Adams continues to scowl, but the awkwardness of the moment has passed. I give him his book. Then I remember the other half of my mission.

My boss asked me if you'd be willing to autograph these.

I place the CDs and the guitars on the counter. Adams surveys the materials, pulls out a marker and signs the CDs. He indicates the toy guitars with the butt end of the marker and mutters, I'm not signing those.

And out he goes.


*The GST is the Canadian Goods and Services Tax. It's a federal sales tax paid on nearly every item bought and sold in the country.

**Yes he does.



Nate said...

Fame seriously fucks with people's heads. Especially fame that has waned.

Sue said...

He looks like a statuette, as if he were his own award for being Bryan Adams.

Celebrities are premeditated people.

So brilliant I had to reprint it in your own comments.

What a dork. (BA I mean)

Evolutionary Revolutionary said...

I would have been so tempted to start humming summer of '69 as he was denying to pay the tax. Just to fuck with his head. I like to piss famous people off, or at least get them to look at me with that "Are you breathing my air?" sort of condescention. It is so very satisfying...

palinode said...

Nate - True. In this case, Adams' fame hadn't waned at all: it was 1994. I now realize that he probably expected to get the book for free, and the hassle of exchanging money for goods put him over the edge.

Sue - A dork he was being.

ER - Humming 'Summer of 69'? In retrospect, I should have started shouting and air-guitaring my way through the chorus.

Marie said...

In my previous line of work I met many celebrities, but they were all great. Some of them were a little weird, but I never had anything truly bizaare happen. I'll be posting about my experience with Matt Damon and the Affleck brothers tomorrow.

Abigail Road said...

All of a sudden, I have a real hate on for Bryan Adams.

wench said...

i thought the only two certainties were death and TAXES. c'mon Bryan ante up just like the rest of us you cheap bastard.

Becca said...

I always knew he was a little f**k.Is he short? Tell me he's short...

palinode said...

Marie - I look forward to it.

Abigail - Oh, now you hate Bryan Adams. After all those weeks where you phoned me past midnight and you're all like, "Do you think I have a shot with Bryan Adams? Huh?"

Wench - fucking A.

Becca - I recall him being pretty short, but not ridiculously so. I didn't look at him and say Ohmigod, it's Danny DeVito! He was around my height - 5'6" or so.

i am the diva said...

have i ever mentioned my fantasy in which Celine Dion is driving a car with Shania Twain around twisty mountainous roads - obviously drunk... when out of nowhere comes The Nicklebacks/Hinder tour bus - The bus swerves and slamms into the mountain side of the cliff, explosion upon impace...and Celine loses control of the wheel and their car goes careening of the EDGE side of the cliff and lands on a passing-by Brian Adams and explodes on impact?

it's a beautiful dream.

the only downside i can see to this is the months of Shitty music we'll all have to endure on the radio as they have memorial after memorial... but i figger - it can't be anyworse than the shit on the radio already... and i don't listen to the radio.

fuck bryan adams.

who spells bryan with a fucking y anyway?

Marie said...

Diva- I am with your dream, but can we put James Blunt in that car too?

Gwen said...

What a tool. It's sad that privilege creates monsters. Why can't people have money AND a soul?

Ozma said...

"He looks like a statuette, as if he were his own award for being Bryan Adams."

Sue totally stole my comment.

I'm so glad I barely know who Bryan Adams is.

Of course I want to know what's behind it all. Bad childhood? Is there a theory, a deep theory? How do we explain it?

You know that Paul Simon would never act that way!

lotus07 said...

I want to grow up to be just like Brian Adams.

Becky said...

Blimey, I always liked Bryan Adams. Never realised he was so up his own arse!

You should have pretended you didn't quite know who he was and said "Weren't you the one who did that Robin Hood song?" I bet he hates how that's what most people remember him for nowadays. *chuckle*