Did Queen Amidala Call Out My Name?

It was like a scene from a Woody Allen movie set in New Orleans: a stranger and his chance encounter with a starlet at a streetcar stop.

It was a typical Saturday afternoon, and I was on my way to the French Quarter (this was two years before Katrina). I headed on the streetcar toward my job at the now defunct Tower Records.

How I loved riding the streetcar. A relic, the streetcar was one of the highlights of living in one of the most traditional cities in the South.

So there I was in the sweltering heat, waiting with confused tourists attempting to get off the streetcar. I was ready to feel that fresh breeze from the mighty Mississippi to wash over me like a kiss from a Southern belle. That’s when I heard someone calling my name.

I stepped out of the streetcar to find Natalie Portman, dressed in white, standing right in front of me. I froze. It was like a scene from a Woody Allen movie set in New Orleans: a stranger and his chance encounter with a starlet at a streetcar stop. The damsel in distress would fall into his arms, whispering in the sultriest of voices, “I’ve been waiting for you. Where have you been all of my life?”

But it didn’t turn out that way at all. I missed my chance. _Wow_ was the only word echoing in my head. It was Natalie; I recognized her pet—it was the same dog I saw in some magazine a few weeks earlier. But at the time, I couldn’t think of her name. The only name that came to my head was her character from _Star Wars,_ Queen Amidala. And I wasn’t about to turn to her and say, “Hi, Queen Amidala, what are you doing in Nawlins?”

I couldn’t do that—no way. I was so taken aback by her grace that I couldn’t speak. So I headed off to work, dejected like the outcast in the TV show who has the opportunity to go out with the coolest girl in school but walks away without saying anything.

I actually got two whole blocks from Canal Street when I realized who had just appeared before me like an angel from the silver screen. “Natalie Portman!” I yelled out like a fool.

That’s when I took off running back as I heard the cinematic orchestra strings in my head. Would our hero get a second chance with his dream girl? By the time I made it back to the streetcar stop, Natalie would not be there waiting for me.

Man, that was one of the few times that I was actually star-struck in front of a celebrity. Usually I can have respectful conversations with them, but Natalie Portman was the exception. She had a look on her face as if she was searching for someone. It wasn’t me. I so wish I had said something. I never found out who had called my name. I tell this story to everyone I meet; they all laugh.

Wouldn’t it have been cool if Queen Amidala had called out my name?

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