Have you guys ever met your celebrity crush or idol? Nothing will ever prepare you for that moment as it’s a moment you KNOW will probably never happen. This is the real world, and we don’t just wander around bumping into Ryan Gosling in Starbucks or Zac Efron at Tesco. At least not if you come from rural Ireland where the most famous celebrity is, in fact, a dolphin.
When I was 16 years old, my friends and I met one weekend in a coffee shop in Cork discussing our celebrity crushes. Or to be accurate, just the one, as we all were crushing hard on Orlando Bloom. This was circa the release of the first Lord of the Rings movie and Orlando had already stolen our hearts in Pirates of the Caribbean. We sat there sipping hot chocolates and discussing the hypothetical question of, “what would you do if Orland Bloom walked through the door right now?!”
All my friends said they would probably squeal or go silently or maybe faint. I thought I was the bees fucking knees back then, the coolest cat, and proudly answered that I would be all calm and cool and say “Oh hey Orlando, how’s it going? Come join us!”
Fast forward a few months and two of those same friends and I are wandering around Venice during the Venice Film Festival. The year is 2005, and we’re having one last HURRAH before we all go our separate ways and start university in September.
We had just escaped an eventful (read: absolutely bonkers) summer job in Paris managing a hostel under the control of a woman having a psychotic break. After the other manager ran away with $10,000 and a creepy voodoo incidence.
That’s a story for another day, so let me get back to Venice.
We’re wandering through the maze-like streets of Venice, living off 2 euro slices of pizza, taking photos for fun on a cheap disposable camera, photos that would be developed (or forgotten about) once we got home.
One of the guys we were hanging out with who had popped into a fairly expensive-looking chocolate shop comes charging out of the shop, his eyes lit up, not knowing he was about to tell us news that would stay with us FOREVER. Or at least for the rest of our week in Venice and possible a happy memory for the remainder of the year.
“Orlando Bloom!!”, he loudly whispers.
“Orlando Bloom is INSIDE THE CHOCOLATE SHOP”.
“NO WAY!” “You’re joking, right..?”
But my friends and I are already half walking, half running to the chocolate shop. We tentatively open the door and step inside, averting our eyes to the ground but also searching for our one true love.
And there he is, picking out a bag full of hand made chocolates, each one as perfectly made as the dreamboat now standing in front of us. I totally lost my cool. I almost screamed right there in the chocolate shop. Orlando’s bodyguards could see I was about to make a scene and approached me. They said we could get a photo but then if we could kindly leave and not make a big scene.
The mortification levels were THROUGH THE ROOF. But we pulled out our cheap disposable camera (we would definitely be developing this one!) posed next to Orlando Bloom, who let me tell you is actually freaking tiny, then ran out of the chocolate shop, yes RAN, ran down the street until we hit a wall, all stared at each other, then starting screaming our lungs out and laughing hysterically. Like absolute mad women.
Once we calmed down we ran to the nearest phone box (we definitely had cheap Nokia 3210’s back then but probably had no credit as were broke as fuck) and called up Clare, the other friend from the coffee shop back in Ireland, the other friend equally obsessed with Orlando Bloom.
“We just met Orlando Bloom,” we shouted down the dodgy phone line.
“In a chocolate shop here in Venice!”
“No, we’re in Venice now…we left Paris”.
Our friend, I feel, only half believed us. So all our street cred now lay in the hands of the cheap disposable camera that we cherished and kept close for the remainder of our trip.
We, of course, did get those photos printed when we returned to Ireland. And I’m pretty sure my friend Elaine had that one photo of us with Orlando Bloom framed and sitting pride of place in her room for many years. The 3 of us standing awkwardly…screams about to emerge from our excitable mouths. Smiles spread across our faces. Standing there in a little chocolate shop in Venice.
With Legolas. And Will Turner. All our childhood dreams come true.