The old man, his back hunched with age, walks straight up to the retail counter where I am working. I smile widely, as I recognize him immediately. “How are you today?” I ask. He answers, brusquely, “I’d be better if you had a toothbrush.” “Excuse me?” “A toothbrush, do you have one?” “No, I’m sorry we don’t.” A dismissive wave of his hand: “Alright,” he says and walks out. Nobody tries to take a picture or get an autograph, nobody whispers and points. Granted, this movie star is a little past his prime, but here in Taos, this is how we like to treat all our celebrities.
Taos is a hideout. A place where you go to kind of drop off the map a little. That’s why the rich and famous, or the confused and destitute, end up here. We all just want a little peace and quiet and we find it here. Plus, we’re not that impressed. We like to celebrate the autonomy of our residents, so why would She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named be held on any sort of pedestal? We’re all equally interesting and have value.
Granted, we do get a little excited when someone especially famous, or one of our favorites, comes to town, but we try not to act too impressed. And we certainly don’t spread it all over town. Why? Partly because of the aforementioned reason, and also because they might leave if they feel uncomfortable. Honestly, we’d rather they feel welcome and throw some big Hollywood dollars in our shops and restaurants. They’ll leave pretty fast if we start sneaking pictures on our smartphones and posting it online.
I will admit, my first glimpse of Dennis Hopper involved me sneaking a few backwards peeks in the dark movie theatre. I just couldn’t help myself, he was my first celebrity sighting in Taos and I felt like I had to convince myself it really was him. Since then, I’ve become a bit more accustomed to bumping into the rich and famous. After all, we’re all hiding out in this dusty remote mountain town together.
And if That-Other-Famous-Female-Actress does decide to move here, I bet we don’t get too worked up about it. The last thing we need is paparazzi ruining the peace and quiet.