That time I met Drea de Matteo at Sesame Place and acted like a schmuck
So I met Drea de Matteo of “The Sopranos” fame at Sesame Place the other day. Totally random. And let me just say this: I was cool. I was ice. Frozen solid. Did not turn into a giggling fool.
“I don’t want to bother you, but I just want to tell you I really enjoy your work,” I said to her. She was with a whole group of kids and adults. Her extended family, I imagine. When I went up to her, she was crouched down next to a stroller.
“You’re not bothering me, and thank you,” she said with a friendly smile. At this point, I could’ve stopped. I could’ve continued my ice ice baby ways.
I could’ve carried on with my day, happy with the knowledge I met an Emmy-winning actress from my favorite show of all time, the only show I’ve ever rewatched start to finish, the show I consider myself a student of.
Yep. Could’ve stopped there. Just walk away, Jeff. Just walk away. But nope. “OK, I am going to bother you,” I continued. “Can you give me one ‘Christopha?’”
In other words: Within 6 seconds of meeting Ms. de Matteo I asked her to act for me. While she was crouched down next to a stroller. At Sesame Place.
We were at a character lunch, so Elmo and Cookie Monster are flitting about and there I am, Schmuck Number One, asking for a line reading. (For those who are not “Sopranos” fans: She portrayed Adriana La Cerva on the show, her boyfriend’s name was Christopher, and her pronunciation of it was so spot on north Jersey Italian — I grew up five minutes away from where the show took place, and I knew so many girls like her — it’s just … perfect. Anyway …)
Anyway, I’m a schmuck because I asked her to say a line from a show she used to be on a decade ago. She’s a wildly successful actress, starring now in “Shades of Blue,” and here I am — at Sesame Place, for the love of Tony! — asking her to repeat a line from a dozen years ago.
What possessed me? I wish I could tell you. I completely geeked out and got weird.
And you what she did? I’ll tell you what she should’ve done: Told me to get lost.
But instead, she launched into character, starting with a “Christopha!” — pretending I was Christopha, no less — and then continuing on how I’m spending all my time with Elmo and Cookie Monster instead of giving her attention.
Long story short: Drea de Matteo is the coolest person on the planet. Ice. Frozen solid.
She then asked if I wanted a picture with her, to which I somehow mumbled out “yes” and then I had to call my wife over to take the picture. (Which you see here. Note the “he was a quiet guy, kept to himself” vibe my smile is giving off.)
So how this all happened: It was media day at Sesame Place, and so I took my family. As part of the day, there’s the character meet and greet, which, apparently, was not just for media, as de Matteo was in there. But anyway, I’m sitting there, and she walks in, and I think to myself, “Wow, that woman looks a lot like Drea de Matteo.” This thought filters in my head like a coffee drip for 10 minutes. All the while, my kids are asking The Count if he likes strawberries and whatnot. I don’t know. I wasn’t paying attention. I kept trying to figure out if it was de Matteo. (By the way: She’s the third cast member I’ve met. First was Vincent Pastore (Big Pussy), second was Steve Schirripa (Bobby Bacala). Both good guys. Neither looks like de Matteo. You have to understand, and as I mentioned earlier: I knew that character well. I went to high school with two dozen girls who could’ve served as de Matteo’s research squad. And honestly, that’s what I intended to tell her if a conversation blossomed, that I knew that character, how perfectly she captured it, etc. Instead, I asked her to act. I’m a schmuck.)
So how did I pinpoint it was her? I notice a tattoo and so I Google “Drea de Matteo tattoo” and whomp, there it is and I decide I’m going to play it cool, just go up to her, give her a compliment, and move on. Instead, schmuck city. Sorry, Ms. de Matteo. And thankyousomuch for saying “Chrisotopha” I’ll never forget it I’m never going to wash my ears again.
Me alongside Drea de Matteo. (I’m the one with the idiot grin.)