"Mr. Jones & Me" - Chapter 1: The Meet & Greet
I consider myself a pretty level-headed woman when it comes to celebrities - after all I've lived in New York City for 7 years, and counting, and worked in the music industry for 3 of those 7 years. I've been a hostess at one of the top celebrity restaurants in Soho that has seen the likes of Mike Meyers, Courtney Cox, Adam Sandler, Malin Ackerman and more. I've never been the type of girl to dream up these fantasies though of meeting a handsome celeb, him sweeping me off my feet, and being that completely normal "commoner" that marries rich. I like to think I've had more of a reality check throughout the years than to believe anything like that would happen to me.
I knew a girl in college who dated Ryan Cabrera for a few weeks - you know, the guy from Ashlee Simpson's music video and the one Audrina Patridge dated on The Hills? Yeah him. It was crazy and everyone on campus talked about it and even mentioned it after they stopped seeing each other.
But for me, it was a bit different. I studied music in college: history of rock 'n' roll, music theory, history of music, etc. I became obsessed with music from the 60's and 70's and began buying biography after biography of my favorite musicians. The important thing to remember is that I've never been into hip-hop. Growing up it was country and once I left home it was old school rock - The Ramones, The Beatles, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and so on. I did have a phase in 5th grade that had me obsessed with Biggie Smalls and Tupac. I wasn't blind to the fact that they had an East Coast vs West Coast war going on, or the rumors that swirled around about who shot Biggie, and if Tupac was still alive. No, I couldn't name a rapper that sat in front of me if it wasn't one of those two, or Jay-Z, but I at least knew some of the history. I'm sure you're wondering "Why is she going on about what she does and doesn't know about music?!" But I swear I have a point to make. And here it is:
Last summer 2016 while working a Wednesday night at my Soho restaurant I came across Mr. Jones. I was the closing hostess that night and had gone to eat my dinner while my friend Sara watched the front door. I was gone for maybe 15 minutes max and when I came back upstairs everyone was running around frantically. I grabbed Sara as she headed to the kitchen and asked what was going on.
"Nas is here!" she said, smiling and bringing the tickets to the kitchen to let them know. "He's at table 31."
"No he's not!" I said, running back to the front.
I knew who Nas was. I had listened to some of his less famous songs growing up, like "I Know I Can." I had no idea however what he looked like. I walked into the front dining room and spotted 2 gentleman at table 31. One was a very large black man - clearly his bodyguard - and the other was a very handsome, light skinned man with a shaved head, and a small swirl design in the front. Like the good hostess I am I immediately ran into coat check, grabbed my phone and Googled him. As a mid-20 something adult I have now had to consider two things when it comes to guys: how old are they, and how tall are they. Nas - whose real name is Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones - was 41 years old, and 5' 8". He had two children - a daughter who was only 3 years younger than me, and a 3 year old son by none other than the Milkshake Queen, Kelis. Like the immature school girls we are Sara and I stood at the front giggling and talking about who should walk by first to see if he checked them out.
Sara went first. She took a loop around the bar, passing close to his table but not looking at him. I watched him closely to see if he checked her out - I mean after all she does have a fabulous ass. I definitely remember breathing a sigh of relief as his eyes never left his bodyguard and they just continued their conversation. Soon Sara left to go downstairs and finish her office work before she had to leave for the night. Once she left I began collecting the dinner menus around the restaurant as part of my closing duties. I passed his table a few times trying not to seem obvious that I was hoping he was checking me out.
On my third time back through I heard him say, "Hello." It was a faint hello where I could've probably ignored it and pretend I never heard, but then my mind starting going a mile a minute thinking that I couldn't just ignore Nas - one of the greatest rappers of all time. So of course I turned around and said hi.
"How are you?" he asked.
"I'm good, how're you?"
"Good, good. What's your name?"
"Nice to meet you. So how's dinner going?" the nervous hostess in me had kicked in at this point. He introduced me to his bodyguard - whose name I forgot but I feel like I get a pass on that - and we talked about how he was trying go on a diet. I felt like I laughed at the appropriate times, and maybe gave him too much info that our kitchen was freaking out when he ordered the regular chicken breast instead of the fried chicken. He laughed though, and before I said anything too awkward and embarrassing (I could feel my cheeks start flushing), I told them to enjoy the rest of their meal and it was nice to meet them. I headed back up towards the host stand and before I was even able to put the menus in my hands away the phone rang from the downstairs office. I knew who it was before even answering it.
"This is Jess."
"Oh my god, what did you and Nas just talk about?!" It was Sara, with our head bartender Andre in the background yelling at me to go out with him. I tried to calm them down and say the conversation was only about his dinner and no one was going out with anyone. But they were determined. I hung up and just laughed.
I finished doing my side work and they finished their dinner. For a split second I let my mind wander to the unimaginable but pulled myself back to reality once I noticed he hadn't looked at me again since. They were one of the last tables in the restaurant and when they got up to leave I started getting nervous. I told myself not to be dramatic and he was just another celebrity in the restaurant, with no interest in someone who was having to work part-time as a hostess to survive. As his bodyguard walked by the host stand I opened my mouth to tell him to have a good night, but instead I was silenced when Nasir slipped me one of the postcards we attached with the bill that included his name and cell number scribbled on it.
"It was a pleasure to meet you Jess," he said, as I stood there dumbfounded. The only thing I was able to say back was thank you. He smiled and walked out after his bodyguard to the large black SUV waiting out front. I looked around to see if any of my coworkers had seen what had just happened. Everyone was just minding their own business and closing down the restaurant. I picked up the phone to call Sara in the office.
"Hellooo," she answered. I could pretty much hear her smirk through the phone.
"Nas just gave me his phone number," I said, smiling like an idiot and still in disbelief.
"WHAT?!" she yelled. I laughed and repeated myself. "You have to call him!" she continued. "Jess, you could have the best summer of your life!"
"Slow down. I don't think I'm going to call him."
"Because he's Nas. He probably does this all the time knowing that the girls would love to go out with him. I don't want to be one of them."
Sara huffed at me. I laughed again and hung up. I looked at the writing on the postcard again and wondered what would happen if I did call him. I didn't want to look like that pathetic eager fangirl, but at the same time why wouldn't I. I debated back and forth for awhile and then ripped up the postcard into a bunch of little pieces and threw it away.
I left a few minutes later and headed towards my subway. As I walked down Prince St. I starred at my phone: "Nasir 'Nas'" and a 917 number shown brightly on the screen. I laughed to myself and locked my phone.
'Maybe tomorrow', I thought and turned onto Bowery to hop on the J train home....