- If you spot a pack of animals, focus on the surrounding areas. Predators will likely be nearby.
If you enter a Marie Callender’s and spot a table of celebrities who’d just voted for the SAG awards, do not focus on Andrea from 90210. It will take Marcia Wallace from The Bob Newhart Show to point out that SHIRLEY MACLAINE is nearby. Pose for a picture with Shirley. Do not leave bummed that Andrea blows you off.
- Don’t watch an animal at close range. If so, you should be careful of its behavior and do not try to attract their attention. Never approach.
When you stay at the same hotel as a BIG HOLLYWOOD PARTY, abide by the hotel rules, and do not approach anyone for autographs or pictures. Pride yourself on your nonchalant reactions to January Jones, Olivia Wilde, and Amy Poehler. Do not panic when you realize you had a conversation with Bradley Cooper’s ex Suki Waterhouse. She does indeed look a lot like your cousin.
- Don’t disturb other park visitors. Never litter or smoke.
When you pretend that you are searching for the hotel’s smoking quarters to get a better look at Rooney Mara, pray that she does not offer directions in front of a hotel employee. When given the side eye from a manager, refrain from shouting, she talked to me first!
- Never chase the animals in your vehicle (or on foot!), and remember that animals always have the right of way.
When you spot one of the Olsen twins smoking behind a restaurant, do not keep circling back. Refrain from asking for a cigarette; remember, no matter how much it would benefit your quest for celebrities, you are not a smoker.
- Don’t harass the animals. Do not throw anything in their direction and make little noise or sudden movements.
When your sister recognizes Courtney Love from the sound of her voice, restrain her with your arm, like your mom used to do as you sat beside her in her olive green Pinto. You know Courtney is your sister’s dream sighting; sudden movements are inevitable.
- Avoid swimming in rivers or lakes unless you are absolutely sure there are no hippos or crocodiles.
When you see Selma Blair lounging by the pool with her son, refrain from timing all of your dips into the pool to coincide with hers. You do not want to become her metaphorical crocodile.
- Pay attention to any sounds the animals make. These may be the only warnings they give that they are agitated. When you spot Christopher Walken twice at your hotel, do not wave. When he audibly grunts the second time he sees you, do not make eye contact again. He is indeed agitated.
Walk away slowly and quietly if you encounter an animal that doesn’t like your presence.When you see Jason Mohler from Jay and Silent Bob walking in to meet Kevin Smith, do not wave and force him to double back. His dismissive brush into the air tells you all you need to know: he does not like your presence.
- Don’t stand up or stick anything out of the car. If you stand up or wave something around on the side, some animals will get annoyed.
When you spot Busy Phillips having lunch with her family, do not approach the table with a note saying how much you admire her work. Even if you mumble “not approaching, not approaching, not approaching,” this is still unacceptable. She will get annoyed.
- Always turn your engine off when pausing to view wildlife at close range. You do not want to shock them.
When you pull into the restaurant parking lot and see both Dick Van Dyke and Nicole Richie, do turn off the engine. Try to disguise your shock later on when neither picks up their entire table’s tab.
- Follow the rules that are posted. These will keep both you and the wildlife safe.
Notice that posted rules do not apply for A-listers. Although no one is allowed to smoke inside the restaurant, Michael C Hall lights up at his table. Because he is Dexter, this exemption seems fair.
- Keep on marked roads and tracks, unless it’s explicitly stated that driving off-road is allowed.When you spot a red carpet, do not follow it. It may lead to an award show for puppets, and those events are hard to leave undetected. Puppets should never be given microphones.
Always wear boots and socks when walking around the bush. You may recognize stars like Justin Theroux by their boots. When Justin removes his black combat boots and socks by the pool, a quick google search of his foot tattoo will confirm this hunch.
- Keep your windows up. If you are in a car with windows, it’s better to keep them closed. When you spot Dr. Drew driving by in his car, jump and wave. His windows are closed; he is, for the most part, safe.
Remember that wild animals are dangerous and unpredictable. Don’t take any risks. When you encounter Wallace Shawn from The Princess Bride in the elevator, refrain from telling your husband. Or else hourly, for the duration of your trip, your husband may text lines like “Inconceivable” and “No more rhymes! I mean it! – Anybody want a peanut?”
- Any kind of safari trophy is strictly forbidden.
On the plane ride home, pride yourself on leaving with no cigarette butts kept as trophies.
Susan Triemert holds an MA in Education and an MFA from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. Her essays and stories have been published in places like Colorado Review, Gone Lawn, and Pithead Chapel. Her collection of essays, Guess What’s Different, will be published by Malarkey Books and out in May of 2022. You can find her work at susantriemert.com or on Twitter at @SusanTriemert.
“General Rules for a Starfari When Visiting Hollywood” was first published in the anthology The Alien Buddha Goes Pop.