Go ahead, Leo. Take a bite of that thin, minty goodness.

Story 1: Who Wants Them Samoas?

I was sitting in Carson’s bedroom in Malibu, gazing out the window at the vast, blue Pacific Ocean as she worked on a math problem.

“Oh I forgot to ask you”, she said excitedly. “Do you want to buy Girl Scout cookies?”

Of course, I told her. She handed me the order form. I scanned the sales she had so far, and then penciled in my order on the next line:

Tobey Maguire – 3 boxes of Tagalongs
Kate Hudson – 4 boxes of Samoas
Barbara Streisand – 6 boxes of Do-Si-Dos
Leonardo DiCaprio – 8 boxes of Thin Mints
Christen O’Brien (baller!) – 2 boxes of Thin Mints

And wouldn’t you know it, looking at that order form was like a TOTAL FLASHBACK to when I was a Girl Scout in 1987! Nothing had changed, it was exactly the same!


  • I didn’t live in Malibu — I lived in Mayberry
  • I didn’t sell 6 boxes of cookies to Barbara Streisand — I sold 2 to my second cousin Barbara
  • My Dad wasn’t the most powerful man in Hollywood — he was widely known as a top real estate agent in the nearby town of Hollywood, Maryland

It was almost, pretty much, exactly the same. Except not at all.

Not all Girl Scouts are created equal.

The following is a story so unlikely you might think it was written by one of them Hollywood people:

A nerdy girl from a small, redneck town in the middle of nowhere, who watched every single Academy Awards show (by herself) with starry eyes while mimicking the acceptance speeches. She turns 18, moves to L.A., and applies for a low-level job so she can pay her rent. She gets the job, only to find out it’s in the home of Hollywood’s most powerful man — one of the 5 co-founders who created the entertainment industry as we know it today — working for his family, Monday through Friday. On the 1st day, she pulls up to the house in her beat up, white Mazda Protege, pushes the button at the gated entrance, and says “Hi, I’m the new after-school tutor”. The gate slides open, and her world is forever changed…

Home is where the original art is.

(editor’s note: The man will go unnamed except to say: it was NOT Harvey Weinstein).
(oh also: The girl is me. ya know, just in case you didn’t catch that.)
(wait, wait, one more thing: These fun little stories are 100% true.)

(hint, hint. And a box of thin mints goes to whomever guesses the family correctly.)

Celebrities — They’re nothing like us.

Story 2: The Family Photo Album

Whenever people say that celebrities are “just like us”, I am reminded of the first time I met Carson. She asked me if I wanted to see photos of her family. Then instead of photo album, she pulled out a little wooden memento box.

How old-timey and adorable, I thought. Especially for an 8-year old.

She took out the “photos”.

They were clippings from People Magazine of her family at premieres and grocery store parking lots, taken by paparazzi.

Ah, the classic family photo album. It really warms the heart.

Story 3: A gift from your godmother

One day, I walked into Carson’s room and it was filled with shoes. There were shoes on her bed, on her desk, and covering her floor.

When I asked what was going on, she handed me a card that read:

Dear Carson,
I went to Fred Segal today to buy you shoes, but I couldn’t decide which pair to get. So I bought you all of them.

Love you!

Your Godmother,

She reminds me of my Godmother, except not at all.

Story 4: The painting in the corner office

I was called to the upstairs corner office of Carson’s mother. She wanted to discuss the tutoring schedule for the next couple weeks. She was the kind of entertainment industry wife you least expected, yet so admired. She was wickedly smart, beautiful yet not the cookie-cutter L.A. blonde, stylish yet effortlessly so. Her best friends were Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas. She had an energy and a confidence I’d never before experienced.

As I sat across from her, this 22-year old from the middle of nowhere fancy, I just wanted to impress her.

Right then, I sat back in my chair and smacked my head on something behind me — pretty hard.

I turned around and saw this:

Oops, did I damage that Warhol print??

And then…stupidity escaped my mouth: “Oops, sorry about that. But that’s a print, right?”

She looked at me incredulously.

“No, that’s an original”.

Of course it was.

Story 5: The Baby Book

Another day, Carson went upstairs to do something and handed me her baby book.

“What’s this?”, I asked.

“Look through it, its all the notes and cards my parents received when I was born. It’s so cool!”

“Oh ya, I had one of these”, I said as she walked away.

I started paging through it. There was a hand-written letter from Steven Spielberg. A card from Harvey Weinstein (yes, he shows up in every Hollywood story). A note from Barbara Streisand. And Cher again. And Michael Douglas again. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. And Tom Cruise.

Yes, I had one of these. Exactly the same.

You know what Steven‘s baby gift was.

Story 6: My Ultimate Sax Symbol

Please keep this highly confidential, but in the 90s I got sort of obsessed with Kenny G. I bought his CD and played it non-stop. Who could resist the sounds of that smooth, saxophone saxiness?

I mean…

Who can resist that???

So I’m sitting in Carson’s room again, and her friend Max comes in to join us. I knew Max pretty well by this point; he hung out at the house a lot.

“I’m going to see my Dad perform tonight”, he was telling Carson.

When Max left, I turned to Carson and asked who his Dad was.

Wouldn’t you know it. The greatest sax symbol this world has ever seen.

• • •

These are just some of the many little stories I have from this experience. They probably have no point to you, I’m sure, other than frivolous fun. For me though, this experience was very meaningful in several ways:

  • I used some of the money I made working for this family to subsidize a discount I gave to a single, African-American mother in South Central L.A, who wanted a tutor for her young son. They were struggling, and surrounded by crime, but she wanted to give him the best possible odds. I was just lucky to be part of that.
  • It showed me up close that even though celebrities are nothing like us, their kids are. Kids are the same, everywhere. They are not hard wired to understand differences in any standing — social, economic, or ethnicity. I loved Carson just as much — and felt she deserved just as a great a life — as the little boy in South Central L.A.
  • Though I started getting referred to work for other high-powered families, the experience showed me that the world of Hollywood celebrities and money culture just wasn’t me. It led me to think hard about who I was, and what I wanted in life. It led me to turn down an offer working for Jimmy Iovine’s family. The reason I turned it down? Because I had just decided to join the Peace Corps, and go volunteer in a developing country instead. And it was 100% worth it.

I have no clue how I went from being in a small town in the middle of nowhere, gazing at the Academy Awards, to sitting in the home of the most powerful man in Hollywood, gazing at the blue Pacific Ocean.

But these crazy things keep happening to me.

And I hope they never, ever stop.