BY MARY GRIFFITH
I love Halloween because it is a night where we intentionally blur the line between reality and fantasy. This year, that fine line became extra fuzzy for me because of a surreal encounter with Kentucky native Johnny Depp.
I have been dazzled by his artistry for 10+ years. I knew that some of his family lived near me. A friend lives near his local kin and I had asked her to call me if she ever noticed him visiting. She called me on Halloween night and said, “Guess who just trick or treated with his two little kids at my house!”
I was almost too chicken to wander over for a peek, but my very-secure-in-his-manhood husband prodded me, saying, “This may be the only chance you ever have to meet him and no one admires him as much as you do.”
My husband drove me the couple of blocks to 21 Depp Street. I was still wearing my two-foot-tall, neon-green beehive wig I had donned earlier to amuse– or maybe frighten — our trick-or-treaters. (To give you an idea of the dizzying height of this hairdo, we had to open the sunroof just to accommodate it. But I am a native Kentuckian/Southern girl, so I’m quite comfortable in the big hair.) I considered the possibility that he might recoil in horror from a middle-aged woman in a bright, beehive wig but decided that Johnny might just go for the Dr. Seuss type. I also panicked when I realized that in the Halloween hoopla I had never gotten around to showering that day. But then I remembered a bit of French history, that Napoleon preferred Josephine a bit on the unwashed, funky side, and assured myself, “Johnny lives in France, so maybe he likes a grungy woman.” Mais, oui.
Obviously, it was Johnny. My husband said, “That’s him. Go on now!”
“B-but aren’t you going with me?”
Again, I nearly chickened out. I’m also fairly sure that I felt some early signs of cardiac arrest.
Before I left the house for our adventure, I had grabbed one of our bottles of French wine and put it in a gift bag, thinking “At least I’ll be a lovely gift-bearing stalker!”
Now I grabbed the bag, took a deep breath, and headed for the small knot of Depp family members, muttering to myself, “Just give him the wine and leave. Don’t be a nuisance!”
As I approached, Johnny’s mother yelled, “Hey, it’s Marge Simpson!” Her friendliness and Kentucky twang reassured me. I replied, “Yeah, but I dyed my hair green.”
I touched Johnny on the shoulder and said, “I’m a big fan and I have a gift for you. Vive la France.”
I handed him the bottle and he stood up to talk to me. He took my hand and said, “Thank you, thank you very much.” He continued to hold my hand and was remarkably warm, sincere, and sweet. It is difficult for me to recall the rest of the conversation in much detail, but no one can blame me because did I happen to mention JOHNNY DEPP WAS HOLDING MY HAND.
I hazily remember that we chatted briefly about what a wonderful country France is. I mentioned that my husband and I fell in love with the country (home to many of my ancestors) two summers ago and how refreshing it was to be in a country where people aren’t looking to sue each other over every little slight. He agreed with me. (I failed to mention that both my husband and I are lawyers — although I’ve now retired and switched to non-legal [illegal?] writing.)
I told him I admire him as a brilliant artist, that he reminds me of my older brother, and that I’m very proud he’s a Kentucky native.
Again, he thanked me — still sweetly holding my hand. I had a woozy feeling that I was living in the movie Don Juan de Marco.
While there, I observed him tenderly looking after his two beautiful children. I’ve heard him talk about how becoming a parent was a life-illuminating event for him. His adoration of the little ones was evident.
His jaw-droppingly-gorgeous (without a speck of makeup) girlfriend/common-law wife was also there, sitting on the porch, speaking lush, mellifluous French phrases. Backlit by the porch light, she glowed. She also looked much cleaner than me.
I didn’t linger because I didn’t want to intrude on their intimate family time. In my best French accent I said “au revoir” and sprinted back to the car.
However, I regret that I failed to commend him for two specific things:
1. He is the only actor I’ve ever observed who actually seems to rearrange his DNA as if it was just furniture to morph into each person he portrays; and 2. I appreciate his recent remarks on Letterman about our current administration.
Perhaps I would have thought to mention these things if my cranial blood flow had not been impeded by the too-tight wig on my abnormally large noggin. Plus, MY HAND THAT HE WAS HOLDING seemed to be getting far more than its fair share of the O positive.
I am probably much more likely to be struck by lightning than to converse with Johnny Depp again, so at least I can praise him publicly by writing this story. Though I expected him to be humble, warm, and sweet, he surpassed my expectations. Except for me being so starry-eyed, it was kind of like talking to my favorite farmers at the Lexington Farmers’ Market. He seemed that down to earth. And yes, he is at least as gorgeous in person as he is on screen.
What a Halloween! And what a cool state we have! We get credit for bourbon whiskey, bluegrass music, some of the world’s finest country musicians, some of the nation’s best basketball teams, thoroughbred horses and, in my opinion, the finest actor of his generation: Johnny Depp.
I hope he enjoyed the wine.