That time I met Drea de Mat­teo at Sesame Place and acted like a schmuck

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - THE TRENTONIAN -

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.

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