Avid tabloid readers,
This is for you. After being David Beckham's teammate during the 2008 MLS all-star game extravaganza in Toronto, I'm fresh off my first glimpse at what a true A-list celebrity has to deal with on a regular basis. I have to say, it doesn't look fun.
He has to face the constant flash of cameras of all sizes, the loud shouts from across the street or the not-so-subtle whispering when he's nearby ("Is that him? I think that's him. Ask him if it's him!"), and the scrutiny of every action and reaction to these public interactions. He has to wear a permanent smile. And this is just when he's walking around. This doesn't include the magic expected of him when he's on the field or when he has to open his mouth and say all the right things. Nor does it involve his private life as a husband, father and friend.
As an innocent but curious bystander, my initial thought was, "No f------ chance would I sign up for that," and it was closely followed by: Where does he find the time or the energy? Based on the amount of money he has made and is making, is he disappointed that the price of gas is so high? Does he even know how much money he has? Is it possible to trust anyone new once you attain that level of fame? Does he regret any of those tattoos?
And then: I can definitely bench-press more than he can.
And then: Did he watch Posh's reality show? Is this who he always thought he always be? Do you think he would reveal whether Ronaldo has always been into transsexuals? Do the perks outweigh the sacrifices?
And finally: I wonder if he'll sign something for me.
After two days of witnessing this top-shelf, megastar, Tom Cruise type of notoriety, I decided to memorialize my experiences from all things all-star with the help of a popular format we know and love: an US Weekly magazine. It is a magazine, and like fast food, you know isn't good for you. But you can't help yourself. So please, I urge you, dive right in.
Beckham snubs red carpet!
David Beckham, tired from the countless appearances for adidas, MLS and all his other sponsors, decided not to attend MLS' first event of this year's All-Star festivities (a red-carpet affair at Muzik), the trendiest nightclub in Toronto, the night before the MLS all-star game against West Ham United. "He wanted to make sure he had the proper rest," a source close to the player said. "He knows that if he doesn't perform on the field, all of this other stuff doesn't matter."
A second insider added that he thought he caught a glimpse of the international superstar: "This black Honda Accord rolls up, and no one thinks anything of it until a buzz builds in the paparazzi that in the front seat there is someone wearing a suit sporting a shaved head and a five o'clock shadow. We all agreed that it was a pretty clever ploy to throw people off." As it turned out, it wasn't Beckham at all. "Everybody was screaming David's name, but it was some other player, and there was a big letdown in the crowd. Also, I don't know if this other player knew this or not, but he had a little stain by his crotch area."
A source at the red-carpet event confirmed the player was the captain of the MLS all-star team, Jimmy Conrad. "He looked as handsome as ever, and I didn't even notice the stain." A pal of Conrad verified the rumor: "He was rushing through dinner with the MLS Players Union's lawyers to make it to the start of his first true red-carpet event and spilled a very oily scallop on his lap. Water was his initial instinct to get rid of the stain, and that worked OK, but in hindsight, club soda would've been the way to go."
A representative of a top club soda company, on the condition of remaining anonymous, agreed, saying, "Club soda would have been the way to go." At the end of the night, the party was enjoyed by all. Said an insider: "I think Jimmy was very happy it was dark inside."
Loose Talk: What the stars said this week
"I'm either in a bowling alley or on top of a stadium talking to a hawk. What did I do to deserve this?" -- Former voice of MLS telecasts on ESPN and current jack-of-all-trades ESPN announcer Rob Stone, overheard mumbling to himself post-all-star game.
"Pepsi made me do it!" -- MLS vice president of consumer products Stu Crystal, after he was questioned about the questionable color selection for the all-stars' jerseys, shorts and socks during the commissioner's post-all-star game party as the MLS all-stars celebrated their 3-2 victory over visiting West Ham United.
"My era of players was so much better than the guys I'm watching tonight. Myself, Eric, Tab -- we would run circles around this team." -- ESPN announcer, former MLS all-star and self-legend John Harkes after being asked off-air if he thought he could hang with the current group of MLS all-stars.
"This all-star event just isn't the same without the man who wears a really tight jersey and tapes his thumb for no apparent reason. Taylor Twellman, we love you!" -- Actor, game show host and part-owner of the Seattle Sounders Drew Carey, gushing about the player he would love to start his expansion team with next year.
"David Beckham is OK, but who is the captain of the all-star team? He's cute." -- Actress and first-time MLS all-star game attendee Rachel McAdams to one of the owners' wives, moments after all the players were introduced at BMO Field in Toronto.
Stars -- they're just like us!
I awoke in the middle of the night, and because of the outrageous size of my bed, I had to roll over three times to see the dimmed numerals on the digital clock. It read 3:02 a.m., and I unfurled some of the blanket to find a new position. Now that my body was satisfied, my mind wandered from my upcoming game against West Ham United in less than 48 hours to wondering why I couldn't hear the waves from the waterfront right outside my room. Minutes later, the geographical section of my sleep-addled brain reminded me that my room overlooked Lake Ontario. "Ah," I said aloud while staring at the ceiling I couldn't see but knew was there.
Again and again, amid a sea of pillows, I shifted from the fetal position to my stomach, fighting the increasing intensity of my brain activity when I made a full-body decision (brain, bladder, legs) to get up to use the restroom.
I kicked off the three layers of 3,000-thread-count sheets, down blanket, and 50-pound comforter, and I edged off the side of the bed. My feet searched for the reassurance of the carpet, and my toes indicated they'd reached their destination. After securing my balance, I sidled near the bed, using it as my compass in the darkened room, and once I reached the end of the mattress, I stopped and turned.
Now, I have been to more hotels than I care to remember, and one of the certainties of the traveler's life, after death, taxes and Craig Waibel, is that when you have to pee in the middle of the night and you are grappling for your wherewithal with clenched eyelids, the end of the bed signifies a path that should lead you directly to the bathroom. I figure it's what they teach in the Hotel Design 101 class at architecture school, with these words written at the top of the syllabus:
- The walkway through any hotel room starts with the front door, extends all the way to the window, and any protruding objects, i.e., beds, walls, various chairs, desk, dresser, etc., will be strategically placed to create a thoroughfare that is easy to maneuver, a straight line being the obvious choice, so that when guests have to pee in the middle of the night, they do not run into any inanimate hotel-owned objects.
I tell you this because as I turned from the end of the bed that fateful night, I took confident steps toward the direction of the bathroom, only to feel my forehead and nose crush the full-length mirror that was attached to a protruding wall. Clearly, my Canadian brethren didn't read the syllabus or didn't go to class. Or, most likely, they are not big fans of American ideology. Either way, my face pulsated until the break of dawn, while the mirror, as my eyes saw it in the morning, suffered only minor facial juice smears about six feet off the ground.
Stars: We walk into mirrors, we get stains in our crotch area, and we're just like you!
Jimmy Conrad is a defender for the U.S. national team and Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards. He contributes regularly to ESPNsoccernet and can be reached at JimmyKnowsAll@gmail.com.