John Cusack is Stalking Me

[So the conversation I referenced in yesterday’s post didn’t end so well… had to unfriend and block someone I have known for 20+ years. Total bummer. So today, I am going back to a funny – albeit, rather old – story I used to perform at open mic nights. The reason I am retelling it is twofold: One, there is an update to it and two, my business partner – Lisa – has never heard the story and I started telling it to her last Sunday and was not able to finish it. Also, it’s fucking funny.]

Me and John 2010.png

Photo manipulated by Heather Payer-Smith

John Cusack is stalking me. I know, I KNOW – this seems incredibly hard to believe. I mean, the man is a celebrity, why would he stalk a random woman from Chicago? Granted, I have been a huge fan of his since I was… oh… sixteen… but, my love of his work and charming goofiness isn’t enough to make it okay with me that he is stalking me. And, he has been doing so for more than 16 years.

Don’t believe me? I have proof:

March 2001, Los Angeles  — I moved to LA in the early 2000s with dreams of becoming the next funny character actress on a television show or in the movies. In reality, what that meant for me was that I got a couple of commercials, worked as a SAG stand-in on a popular television show and bartended at night to pay my bills. I also partied A LOT.

After one particularly weird night at a random club in Hollyweird, I ended up too intoxicated to drive home to my apartment in NoHo. So one of my sober friends offered to drive my car to his house in the Hollywood Hills and let me sleep on his couch for the night. This was during my goth phase, so I was out on the town wearing tight leather pants, huge stacked heels, a fishnet shirt and a black bra – plus a LOT of makeup. I was 27 and skinny and blond and hot, so why not?

Sleeping in leather pants is not so comfortable. Especially not on a couch. Luckily for me, the way I stayed skinny was by working out like a fiend, so my gym bag was always in the back of my car. So I ended up sleeping in my gym clothes – a big oversized tee shirt that used to belong to my Dad and sweatpants.

The next morning, I was supposed to meet my friend B to workout and then to get brunch in Silverlake. I managed to shake myself awake at the appropriate time and chug some water, borrow a toothbrush and get myself into my beat up Toyota Camery to get myself to the gym reasonably close to the time I was supposed to be there. I called B on my new cell phone (basically the size of a brick or a man’s shoe) to let her know I was running a little late. We were chatting about what we’d been up to the night prior when I pulled up to a stop light on Cahuenga and a silver BMW pulled up next to me.

I looked over out of the corner of my eye and noticed that the driver of the other car was wearing a Chicago Cubs hat, this caused me to turn my head and give the person another look (as I rarely saw Cubs fans in LA) – only to discover it was JOHN MOTHERFUCKING CUSACK.

Having been a fan of his since I was a wee girl, I freaked out. Screaming into the phone to B “It’s John Cusack!”, I dropped the phone on the passenger seat and pulled the scrunchy out of my hair and started to try to comb it with my fingers. I pulled my visor mirror down and saw that I *literally* looked like death, with pale ass makeup all over my face and rings around my eyes from mascara and eyeliner like a raccoon. I licked my thumb and was trying to get that under control when I looked to the side and saw that John Cusack was staring at me.


The light changed and he pulled away and of course he probably went to some fancy brunch somewhere with his then girlfriend (gag) Neve Campbell and told the story of the weird goth girl who freaked out at seeing him at a stoplight and went all weird.

Okay… well I could live with that. It’s not like I’d ever see him again.


Seriously, Cusack – WHO’s the dork?

June 2001, Los Angeles — In the few months following this incident, the story and my telling of it had become kind of a cult classic amongst my friends. My tale of utter and complete  dorkiness starstruck idiocy amused my more seasoned industry friends (and, some of the stars I worked next to on Boston Public) to no extent.

One day – when we had an off day – I was invited to go to hang out in Santa Monica with one of our first ADs (Jen) and a bunch of her friends. After a day of beach and boardwalk and shopping, we ended up in the Coffee Bean on Santa Monica Blvd. Sitting there in a bikini top and shorts (I was 27, skinny, blond, hot) I was imbued by Jen to tell her two friends the story of my John Cusack sighting.

Not one to turn down the spotlight, I complied and was animatedly telling the story – loudly and complete with gestures indicating my complete idiocy in the aforementioned situation.

I should mention now: My back was to the door of the Coffee Bean.

All the sudden Jen’s eyes got really wide, “Um, Kate?”

I continued with the story, gesturing how I tried to get my goth makeup off my face and loudly bemoaning the fact that the one time I ran into a celebrity I wanted to see I looked like a hungover hooker.

“Kate,” Jen’s friend kicked me under the table, “Turn around.’

As if in a movie, I slowly looked over my shoulder only to see… John Cusack standing in line at the counter with a piece of carrot cake in his hands, staring at me and my display of animated story telling.

Within two seconds, I slid under the table and refused to come out until he left the cafe.

Of course: When I emerged, Jen and her two friends were red faced laughing their pants off at me.


John Cusack telling his awesome friends about the stupid girl he keeps seeing…


October, 2001 – Los Angeles — After some time passed, my so called friends stopped forcing me to tell the story of how I encountered my favorite celebrity twice and made an ass out of myself both times. And, I -actually- began to book jobs and get parts in plays and get invited to storytelling nights.

As such, I was going on a lot of auditions.

One day, I was out on a call at a building on Wilshire Blvd. — following the instructions of the agent who sent me out, I parked in the lot under the building and was taking the elevator up to the office the audition was being held in. I was busy studying my sides for the reading and didn’t notice that the elevator had stopped at lobby and someone – a man –  had gotten on with me.

I think I noticed his cologne first… it smelled like soap or linen dried outside in the sunshine. I then looked down at the floor (because the cologne was sexy and I was blushing) and saw his Chuck Taylor kicks, I looked up a little bit and saw jeans and a crisp white cotton shirt, I then looked at his face and noticed that it was… John Cusack.

I decided as we traveled upward that I was going to actually say something to him this time. I stuck the sides in the pocket of my messenger bag and pulled out a compact – as I was out for an audition, I was fairly confident in how good I looked at that moment, but just wanted to double check.

I casually checked my face, fluffed my hair a little bit and pulled out lipstick to freshen up. In the mirror, I checked to see if Cusack had noticed this, and (thankfully) he had not. I pulled out one of my cards (that had my email and phone number on it) and palmed it in my hand. I guess my plan was to hand it to him and say something like “I know we’ve not officially met, but I have two really funny stories to tell you that you’re a part of.” Or, something like that.

The elevator reached my floor. I turned to him, he looked at me and smiled,  I raised my finger and had just opened my mouth to speak and… the elevator doors closed in my face.


John knows about missed opportunities…

The story doesn’t end there. In December of 2001 I moved from LA to New Orleans. I continued to tell the story of John Cusack stalking me… it was a big hit at comedy nights and parties and with my friends… and, then…

November, 2002 – New Orleans — When I moved, I met someone who I started dating. We were madly in love and moved in together fairly quickly. I was still bartending to make the bills and performing on the side. Specifically, I was bartending the rush shift (8pm-2am) at a bar called The Morgue.

My birthday also happens to be in November. So is my Dad’s. And, as I had started living with someone my parents had never met, and my Dad HAPPENED to be turning 50 that year AND it was my 29th birthday, too – my parents and my Grandma decided to come visit my boyfriend and I in New Orleans.

So, I requested a few days off work, as I wanted to spend time with my parents. My friend Andy covered my shifts for me and we were all good.

This visit happened to coincide with when the film Runaway Jury was filming in the French Quarter. One of my friends, Chris, was working as a cameraman on the shoot and had become buddy buddy with John Cusack and Jeremy Piven. He gave me a call when he got to town and we went out for drinks together (me and Chris, not me and Cusack) and he asked me if it’d be okay to tell Cusack the “John Cusack is stalking me” story… I said sure and didn’t think much of it.

My Mom, however, is a big Dustin Hoffman fan. So one of the last days they were in town, she and I went on a little trek to see if we could spot either John Cusack or any of the stars of the movie. We did see Dustin Hoffman. And, I asked at the shoot if my friend Chris was working on that location so we might get an introduction, but he was off with the B-Team shooting somewhere else that day.


Wait, Kate! Come back!!!

That night we all went out for a big dinner and a ghost tour and then my boyfriend and I went home and went to bed. We met up with my parents and Grandma in the morning for breakfast and bid them adieu, as they left for the airport. That evening, I had to work – so I went home to take a nap. I turned up at the Morgue at 7:30pm so I could have a pre-shift drink and as soon as I walked in, my friend Andy handed me a note on a napkin. It said:

“Where the fuck were you, Kotler? I brought JC to you and you weren’t here. Call me. -Chris”

I felt the heat rising in my chest… “Andy,” I said, “John Cusack didn’t happen to come into the bar last night, did he?”

“Oh yeah,” Andy said, “He was here with a group of people – they spent a TON of money – and they were actually asking for you.”

I asked for the phone and called Chris’s cell phone. He was at the airport heading back to LA. — APPARENTLY, he decided that the only person who could tell John Cusack the “John Cusack is Stalking Me” story was the person who John Cusack was stalking. So he had brought John Cusack, Jeremy Piven and a bunch of people from the shoot into the bar the ONE NIGHT I WASN’T WORKING so I could do that. And, instead of calling me – Andy just told Chris to leave me a note. It’s not like we weren’t home in bed at a reasonable hour – it was like 11pm. And, I lived a block away from the bar. It would have been ZERO trouble for me to come into the bar and regale them with my stupid stories of being a starstruck idiot.

And, so there ends the story… for the next 11 years.


We have so much in common, John Cusack – I love the Cubs, too! Can we be friends?

March, 2013 – Chicago — I moved to Chicago in 2010. From San Francisco. And, it’s too long a story to explain how I got from New Orleans to San Francisco and what I spent seven years doing in The Bay Area. In spring of 2013, I had just met and started dating #BritishHusband (who was in London for six months, so I was pretty lonely) and I was working at a retail shop in Logan Square. I also happened to be living near Loyola University in Rogers Park. So… to say that my trek to and from work was a bit of a haul is an understatement. Okay – you might not know Chicago, so let me put it plainly — I had to go from the Northeast side of the city to the West central side of the city using a train and a bus. Though my apartment only was 7.6 miles away from my place of work, it easily took me an hour and a half to get to and from. And, the train plonked me out on Diversey at the corner of Sheffield, where I had to wait for a bus.

One really rainy day, I was standing under the awning of a Starbucks waiting for my damn bus trying not to get completely soaked. Covered by my umbrella, I could barely see the traffic coming up the street, let alone who was coming in or out of the Starbucks. I spotted my bus and turned to hightail it to the stop so it wouldn’t pass me by. As I turned and put my umbrella up over me, I ran smack into the chest of someone much taller than I was. I fell to the ground, in a puddle and bruised my butt and was soaked and muddy and was about to start swearing about watching where you are going, asshole when I looked up and noted that John Cusack was standing above me.

“Oh my god,” he said, offering me his hand, “I’m so sorry! Are you okay?”

The bus went whizzing by as he helped me to my  feet and grabbed my umbrella for me and started to wipe me off with his scarf.

“Oh my god,” I stammered, “You’re…”

“Yeah,” he said, “I am so sorry I knocked you over, it looks like you took a bad fall – are you okay?”

“I think I’m fine, but I just missed my bus,” I said as I tried to wipe mud off my backside with my hand.

“Let me get you a cab,” he said, “Where are you going?”

“Milwaukee and Kedzie, to work” I said.

John Cusack then hailed a cab for me and handed the driver a $20 and said “She’s going to Logan Square.”

I climbed into the warm cab, stunned into silence by the events which had just happened, I did manage to get out a “Hey, thanks for the cab.”

“I’m so sorry I knocked you down, have a good day” he said, as he waved off the cab.


Oh, the irony.

Let’s just face it. Had I been able to get out a coherent word that day, I’d probably not be married to #BritishHusband, but would instead be Mrs. John Cusack. It’s just a fact.

John, if you’re out there reading this (and, as you’re stalking me, I know you are) – I’m just saying… You’re still on my “five celebrities I’d get a pass for” list. Wink, wink.

The End


That coulda been me…

UPDATE: In researching the pictures for this story I have come across UNBELIEVABLE information. Some of you may know, #BritishHusband and I just sold our house. Apparently, our former house was *just up the street* from where John Cusack lives when he’s in Chicago. So, for two goddamn years John Cusack was my motherflipping NEIGHBOR and I never knew. Oy vey.

DISCLAIMER: The following story is based on true events, yet is obviously satire. The fact that I need to make that disclaimer is extremely disappointing to me, yet necessary, as the last time I publicly posted this story people went ass-crazy on the Internet. John Cusack is not actually stalking me. It is the conceit of the story. So don’t lose your mind after reading this.

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