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6/25/04 -- Starstruck.

on Friday night, Bill and I went to Sakoontra for our "Yay, it's the weekend!" date. Sakoontra is our favorite Thai restaurant; although I tend to alternate between Drunken Noodles and panang beef for dinner, almost everything I've had there is outstanding and the service is usually very friendly and efficient.

Anyhow. The place was packed, and after we waited for a few minutes the hostess seated us in a fairly tight space between two other small tables. After we settled in I glanced at the woman sitting to Bill's left at the neighboring table. And then I looked again, because she had one of those "I know I've seen her before but I can't place her " faces. Finally, it hit me hard: She was the ex-coach of one of my favorite American figure skaters. You probably wouldn't recognize the name if I posted it, especially if you're not obsessed with skating; she's not in the top tier of Name Coaches, but her star pupil is a multiple national champion and World medallist so she's no slouch either. You probably wouldn't care, but for me? This was a huge deal. Sort of like if you were a big US football fan and found Joe Gibbs sitting at the table next to yours.

Two things you need to know about me: I'm a complete figure skating nut, and I'm totally hopeless when faced with an even vaguely famous person; I get even more tongue-tied and blushy and stupid than I usually am in person. And even if I were one of those people with no compunctions about striking up a conversation with anyone, I didn't want to be a jerk and interrupt this woman's dinner. And what on earth would I have said? "Hi! I'm a big fan of your student. Um, your ex-student. Who kind of left you in the lurch and shocked everyone. Um ... I'll just shut up and go back to eating now. It's been nice annoying you!"

But being polite was killing me. She's currently coaching a Japanese skater I became very fond of at the World Championships in DC in 2003, and I was dying to overhear some juicy skating gossip. Unfortunately for me, it appears that people who spend their entire days in the thick of figure skating want to talk about other things when they go out to dinner. Who knew? When Mom and my aunt and I went to Skate America in Pennsylvania in 2003, we'd roll out of the arena after watching a practice session, head to the nearest hotel bar, and badger the bartender until she turned the TV to the coverage of the event we'd just seen live the night before. We couldn't get enough. But not Ms. Coach. She actually talked quite a lot; just not about skating. Dammit.

This wasn't a very good story, was it? You probably had to be sitting there across from me, watching me trying to be all cool and eavesdrop without being painfully obvious. Bill says it was really amusing; he could tell I was agitated about something, but had no idea what the hell my problem was. Subtlety isn't my strong suit.

Maybe the next time I'm in a situation like that, I should just remind myself that I have my own small claim to fame. Bill and I watched an older Michael Moore documentary, "The Big One," on Thursday night. Imagine my surprise when during the ending credits I saw my name, complete with the unusual double-L "Willson", scroll across the screen. This person even has an IMDB page, though her sole credit is the Michael Moore movie. A small and very meaningless coincidence, but it made me laugh anyhow.