I am not a club guy.
Never had a clubhouse. Wasn’t in the glee club, chess club or math club. Never joined a frat, lodge or brotherhood. No country club, no Rotary club, no Kiwanis club. I’ve never held a golf club and, to my knowledge, I have never eaten a club sandwich.
And yet I seem to have become a member of a vast and growing organization to which I did not actively seek membership. Nor from which, I have to admit, am I eager to be expelled.
I’m a member of the “Celebrity Club.”
Somehow, in the process of trying to make a living, I sashayed around the bouncer and landed on the dance floor with an ensemble of actors, directors, writers, producers, movers, shakers, politicos and assorted living items from Page Six.
I seem to be a member in good standing. I assume that is a positive thing. You see, I’m a little unsure about all of it. I don’t recall any kind of initiation and, therefore, the clubhouse rules remain fretfully elusive.
Apparently, the general membership is on a first-name-only basis. This is true regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or educational background. Despite never having been introduced, Snoop Dogg is “Snoop,” Mike Nichols is “Mike” and Sherry Lansing is “Sherry.”
I was raised to believe that one’s elders should be addressed as Mr., Mrs. or Ms. This salutation is also supposed to be used for people in superior positions. Therefore, Steven Spielberg should be “Mr. Spielberg” and Oprah Winfrey should be “Ms. Winfrey.” At least until they invite me over for an evening of foosball and an aperitif.
Am I really supposed to walk up to Spielberg with a “Yo, Steve”? “Op, what’s happening, girl?” It just feels wrong. But we’re fellow club members.
I’m also expected to know every club member ever referenced solely by his or her first name. If I am talking to Marty and he tells me about Tom’s new car, Steve’s new book and Mavis’ new cause, it should go without saying that Short is talking about Hanks, Martin and Leno.
I’m unsure of the boundaries, as well. If I meet Brian (Grazer) at a party and we chat for 32 seconds, does that mean that I am acquainted enough to call his office at will and ask “Bri” if he has any upcoming projects that I’d be perfect for?
If I see the Clintons, Drew Barrymore and Penn & Teller dining together at Morton’s (trust me, it could happen), am I supposed to feel no compunction about pulling up a chair and ordering a Corona? Hail, member, well met!
Am I expected to admire everybody in the club equally, just because we’re fellow card-carriers? Do I really have to do the secret handshake with Paris Hilton, Tom Arnold and Kevin Federline? I mean, I will if that’s the rule, but I can’t find the posting.
My greatest concern, however, is this: Can my membership be revoked? After all, I’m not sure how I got in. So it’s quite likely I could mistakenly stumble out.
Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep and Jill Clayburgh were all on sabbatical for a while. Weren’t they still “Jane,” “Meryl” and “Jill”? Joe Piscopo is still “Joe,” isn’t he? Arlene Golonka is still “Arlene,” right?
If I have to take an unforeseen leave, is there a way to continue paying dues in order to keep my locker and parking privileges?
I live in fear that my membership, which has been so good at getting me into restaurants and screenings and parties, will no longer be valid. I tremble at the prospect that members won’t naturally gravitate toward me when we’re in the presence of nonmembers.
I worry about the day when no one will tell me the places to stay or the number to call or that I have to use their “guy” for this and that.
Mostly, I shudder to think that one of my fellow members will come up at some point and say, “Mr. Alexander.” And I’ll instantly blubber, “No, no . . . it’s me . . . Jason.” Oh sweet bearded Jesus, could that happen?
I should have joined the Elks or the Shriners. At least their membership comes with a manual.