Instant Karma

Why do we buy drinks for celebrities?

Stars are everywhere in Dallas. And that's not just some really lame pun, either.

At some point or other, everyone who eats out or drops by a bar in Dallas--this obviously excludes parents with young kids--eventually will bump into someone famous. From Troy Aikman at PF Chang's to Emmitt Smith at the Great Outdoors to Mark Cuban at Casbah to Matthew Perry enjoying the scene at The Lodge, you're bound to be shoving celebs out of the way just to clear a path to the bar.

Still, the encounter between a celebrity and an average Joe often turns awkward. Stefany McDonald saw Aikman at Cowboys--again neither a pun nor an ironic twist--one evening and took the initiative. "I just walked up and said hi," she explains. "He just kind of ignored me." Lissa Carlson bumped into country star Mark Chestnutt at a bar. "I didn't like him," she reports. "He was arrogant, he looked at me like 'Who are you?'" Even more awkward, Jacque Clawson recognized Michael Irvin at either City Streets or City Limits--she was probably too drunk to determine which.

A few celebrity run-ins provide hours of amusement. Finding herself within hearing range of Sergei Zubov at a Dallas restaurant, Diana (she wouldn't provide a last name) translated the Russian star's conversation for the benefit of her friends. Eavesdropping--another reason to study language.

Most of us try to retain a sense of decorum around the rich and famous. Ron Crabtree once ran into Charles Barkley--elbowing his way to the bar, no doubt. Crabtree offered to buy the Roll Model a drink (Incidentally, our burning question this week is Why do we buy celebrities drinks? But we'll get to that in a bit) and ended up hanging out with Sir Charles. Some people believe that politeness wins points with the famous. Others prefer to leave them alone. Monica Valdez, for instance, saw Matt Damon sitting at a bar. Suddenly face to face with millions of dollars in Hollywood marketing, Valdez just walked away. "I don't think that's right," she says of autograph hounds and hangers-on. "They don't want to be bombarded. They know you're excited, so just leave them alone." In Crabtree's case, a few polite words provided endless future bragging rights. "I said, 'Can I buy you a drink,'" he recalls, "and Barkley said, 'No, let me buy you one.'"

So, why do we buy celebrities drinks? We're not buying drinks. We're buying stories.

Oh, and by the way, we tried to ask some of our local sports celebs this question. The Stars weren't talking, and the Cowboys offered up third-string quarterback Clint Stoerner. Maybe they didn't understand the question.

 
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