Meryl and me

Six degrees of Streep separation

Alison Rood is a freelance writer who isn't really envious of gorgeous 60-something movie stars ... at least, not most of the time.

My son texted me this afternoon and ruined my day. No, he hadn’t been in an accident (knock on wood), which is what every mother secretly fears when she suddenly hears from an adult child who lives on his own in another city. No, he texted to tell me that Meryl Streep had just said hello to him.

This isn’t quite as unbelievable as it sounds. My son is a film editor and works for a studio in Los Angeles. Celebrities come and go, and he’s met a lot of them. But Meryl Streep is different. Is she even real? Doesn’t she teleport from some other planet where non-real people live?

I texted back, “WOW!” Then, I texted something really stupid. I asked him if she was pretty.

“She was waiting for valet, and she’s GORGEOUS!” he replied.

I had just picked up two bottles of wine and a greeting card at a CVS Pharmacy, where a tired cashier rang up my purchases. Now I was filling the tank of my 12-year-old car, which has 130,000 miles on it, at an uninteresting gas station located in a sterile strip mall in a nondescript city. Other ordinary people were standing next to their cars, staring numbly at the boring landscape while they waited for their tanks to fill. We were hot, disheveled and a few pounds overweight. We had worked at routine jobs, run our households and raised our children. Every evening we walked our dogs through our dull, quiet neighborhoods. We read detective novels before bed, sneaked a peanut-butter sandwich at 11 p.m. and wished we didn’t have insomnia. We wondered what we would do for the rest of our lives. We knew we definitely needed to buy better clothes.

(I had suddenly lumped all the other people at the gas station into my pitiful musings.)

Meryl Streep, on the other hand, who was in our same age bracket (63), was waiting for valet in Beverly Hills. And she was gorgeous.

At that point, I really needed to think of something to boost my self-esteem. I thought hard. I remembered the summer I was a surrogate mother for orphaned squirrels. No good.

I went home and deliberately made things even worse. I Googled Meryl Streep to find out what she might be doing in Los Angeles. I found out that yes, she is 63, and she still looks fabulous. She has a new movie coming out, co-starring Tommy Lee Jones. She’s not overweight, looking at a dreary suburban landscape,or running into a CVS store for cheap bottles of wine. Her husband creates sculptures. They’re still madly in love.

Later, I didn’t know what to do, so I walked my dog to a park that’s basically a soulless soccer field, not even a park. But I felt better. I had rescued my dog from a shelter, and as we walked along, he looked up at me with a glint in his eye. He looked up at me like I could be Meryl Streep.