1. Megan Fox
You sat next to Megan Fox on a flight from Los Angeles to Paris. You’d heard stories about her being vapid and kind of mean, but she was very friendly and had a lot to say. She spent the first hour telling you every major plot point to the original Doctor Who series. Then she read you three chapters of fan fiction she’d written about Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Then you told her that you were getting up to stretch your legs, but really wanted to stop talking to her because she was boring the hell out of you. When you got back you saw that she’d laid a deck of Magic cards across your tray table. “Please tell me that you know how to play Magic: The Gathering.” “Ugh, not really.” “Oh well, I guess I’ll have to teach you.” By the time you arrived in Paris, you had a new wealth of useless knowledge about science fiction and fantasy. Thanks Megan Fox.
2. Bill Murray
You ate dinner with Bill Murray somewhere between Perm and Yekaterinburg. He’d invited you, when he noticed you were the only other native English speaker aboard this leg of the Trans-Siberian railroad. You walked into the special dining car which had been perfectly attended to by the young staff who had a particular affinity for Bill Murray, having grown up on late night showings of Stripes on Russian State TV.
Bill Murray had brought together everybody on the train who could speak at least a minuscule amount of English to eat together. It was less of a meal and more of a long one-sided interview. Bill Murray went down the table and asked each person to recount three of their best travel stories. You don’t really remember what anybody said, because they’d get five words in before Bill Murray would interrupt and somehow relate it to a movie he either appeared in or saw on Laser Disc.
The only thing you really learned about Bill Murray, was that he has the largest personal Laser Disc collection in the world, but those “rat finks at Guinness don’t seem to want to give me the World Record because it’s an obsolete format in 2012. Sheesh!”
3. Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian isn’t the easiest person to travel with, but you knew that before she invited you to Dubai. You figured it’d be fun because she’d cover the bill, or if she didn’t at least the production team would. She took you to so many delicious meals, with items you couldn’t pronounce and at prices that rivaled your rent in Los Angeles.
She kept telling everybody the same story about the time she was supposed to meet a friend at Spago but after ordering appetizers at the Beverly Hills location she realized her friend was at the Las Vegas location! So she got in an hour-and-a-half late and her friend didn’t even notice! You basically got $5,000 worth of goods and services to have to subject yourself to that story.
4. Chris Hemsworth
You and Chris Hemsworth are riding camels through the desert. Nothing too difficult, just a prescribed route behind an experienced Bedouin guide who is taking you to visit his favorite natural oasis. You’ve been on the road for several months, but this is Chris Hemsworth’s first vacation in five years. He says that if he isn’t working he feels like his whole world will fall apart.
You say that you feel more in control of your world when you aren’t working, though sometimes you wish you had a little more money. Chris Hemsworth says the money and fame were nice, but he is driven by his need to perform. You say that you’re driven by the rambling spirit, and soaring towards a deeper understanding of yourself.
When you get to the oasis the guide helps you off your camel. Chris Hemsworth jumps off on his own. You walk into a little gift shop, where a bleary eyed adolescent boy looks up from his comic book and screams “THOR!”
5. Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart knew of this “really good super secret hike” in the Hollywood Hills (which she promised was not Runyon Canyon.) When you pulled up, you realized this was not that super secret, because the parking lot was full. You parked along Mulholland and walked to the trailhead. The trail was packed with people wearing luxury athletic apparel.
Even though Kristen Stewart was wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat, it only took the paparazzi five minutes to discover her presence. Luckily she knew the photographers and they’d previously come to an agreement that if she posed briefly they’d leave her alone for the rest of the hike. After 200 shots in less than three minutes the paparazzi let her go. Kristen Stewart shrugged, smiled, and walked you down the trail, pointing out the different varieties of sagebrush native to this coastal chaparral climate.
6. Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey was the first person you’d met at the hostel. He’d been staying there for weeks “to get into character.” He seemed pretty cool at first. He kept filling your glass with Flor de Caña and Coke and even gave you half of his pizza hawaiana (because he forgot that he didn’t like pineapples). At first he was telling interesting stories about surf trips, car races, gardening tips, and which celebrity mansions he’d puked at.
But as he got drunker he started to get defensive about his own body of work. He tried to justify his less successful movies, by thoroughly recounting the plots. By 11pm everyone had gone to the bars; you wanted to leave but felt gracious for that pizza and rum, so you sat around for another hour listening to Matthew McConaughey trying to convince you that Failure to Launch was actually based on James Joyce’s Ulysses.
7. Tina Fey
On a long bus ride from Istanbul to Çanakkale, you and Tina Fey were watching a Turkish sitcom about a baklava chef. Every time he knocked over a tray of pastries, you’d both laughed harder than anyone else on the bus. Since you’d laughed at the exact same time that Tina Fey did, you felt that it somehow validated your own sense of humor. It got you thinking about what makes something funny.
You suggest that something is funny when you can feel smarter than the object of ridicule. The chef dropped that entire tray of fresh baklava, while juggling borekas, sipping tea, and yelling at his dog—there’s no way that you’d do something as stupid as that. Tina Fey thought it was something deeper: “it’s something about that innate guttural response to seeing something collapse. We laugh because it isn’t happening to us, because if it was we’d be crying.”
Roadtripping with Flea across the Sunbelt was pretty fun. He told you all these funny stories about the early days of the LA Hardcore scene, Eastern European tours, and about getting in a fist fight with the prop department on the set of The Big Lebowski.
Whenever you rolled into new towns, he’d want to meet new musicians, so he’d always make you look up jam sessions at Moose Lodges on your phone (because he never seemed to get service). You’d follow him to these community centers, and he’d start playing bluesy walking basslines, but then out of nowhere he’d just start slapping his bass so hard that all the other musicians would get distracted, and since they didn’t really know who he was (nor care), they’d get annoyed because the whole point of a jam session is to play together and not showcase your own solo talents.
But then an elderly guy would say something like, “hey youngblood, you sure are talented, mind if I buy you a drink?” Which was the old guy’s strategy of getting Flea off the stage so the rest of the group could just play at their own pace.
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Josh is a writer from Los Angeles. He has lived in Mexico City, New York, and Berlin with extensive jaunts to Latin America and Europe.