My brief engagement to actress Diane Lane

Len Robbins Guest Columnist

November 17, 2013

As a popular syndicated columnist and notary public of public notoriety, I often have fans approach me and ask for my autograph.

For instance, just the other night, after finishing my meal at a restaurant, our waitress came to me with a leather-bound autograph book and asked for my signature.

“Who shall I make this out to?” I asked, mimicking my autograph etiquette I’ve honed over dozens of years and three-to-four requests.

“Just sign over the line where it says card holder, sir,” the smitten fan replied, obviously flummoxed to be in the midst of such celebrity.

Often, members of the non-celebrity public don’t know how to act when in the presence of the famous. As someone who serves as a celebrity, and has served celebrities (I once sold a canned ham to actress Tess Harper, of “Tender Mercies,” while working at a convenience store in Athens), I have seen both sides of the prism. There’s really no need to be star-struck. Famous people are just like you and me, or actually like me before I became an award-nominated author (“The Greatest Book Ever Written About Cheese,” available at fine bookstores everywhere). Celebrities put their pants on one leg at a time, just like all of us, only their butler or personal assistant does it for them.

I remember how intimidated I was the first time I brushed closely to a prominent personality. I don’t like to talk about it often – only when I’m awake – but as a 13-year-old, I became a close, personal friend and love interest of the actress Diane Lane for a couple of hours.

She was 16 at the time, and had already appeared in the acclaimed “A Little Romance,” starring Sir Laurence Olivier, and the edgy thriller “Six Pack,” starring Kenny Rogers. I went to her house down the street from mine on Tybee Island to sell some soap for a school fundraiser. Her next-door neighbor was a friend of mine and went to her house with me. After I rang the doorbell, she, as was her custom, opened the door. Our eyes met, sparks flew, I drooled, then she uttered the words I had longed to hear: “May I help you?” My friend then rudely interrupted our lovelorn gaze by saying, “Len here is selling some soap, Diane. You want to buy some?”

She said something – I think “no” – I wasn’t really listening. The chemistry between us was too intense for me to understand English at that point. She obviously sensed the unmistakable connection too. Within minutes, she had whisked me away (and my third-wheeling friend) in her convertible down to the arcade. There, I won her admiration by absolutely destroying her in a spirited contest of Ms. Pac-Man. She lovingly referred to me a “video game geek,” but I knew what she meant. She meant: “Our May-December romance will never be accepted by society. It, unfortunately, cannot be.”

I understood.

After those powerful, intense 120 minutes, our paths diverged – her going off to location somewhere far away from Georgia to further her blossoming acting career, me going back to Mr. Shirk’s eighth-grade History class. But it’s a relationship I cherish to this day, and embellish at every opportunity.

The point of my story is this: Diane Lane once had the hots for me.

Remember that the next time you encounter a famous person and act accordingly.

© Len Robbins 2013