PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

September 9, 2013

Going out at night to see the star

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — I don't get starstruck.

Sure, it was pretty cool attending a press conference for “American Idol” runner-up Kree Harrison, but I didn’t brag too loudly about getting a “Thank you” from her after telling her I liked her shoes — because, as I said, I don’t get starstruck.

Except for that time I learned that actor Aaron Paul had been spotted in Port Neches. Aaron has gained universal fame for his role as Walter White's wingman Jesse Pinkman on the AMC show "Breaking Bad." The show, about a high school chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin, shattered AMC records when it drew 5.9 million viewers for its Season 5 premiere on Aug. 11. But during its five-year run, "Breaking Bad" has ensnared many more unsuspecting fans than those nearly 6 million would suggest — myself included. Ever since I stumbled across the series on Netflix, I have been unable to look away.

After confirming that Aaron Paul was indeed in my neck of the woods — rumor has it that he's filming the movie "Hellion," produced by Port Neches-Groves High School graduate Kelly Williams — I brazenly vowed to anyone who would listen that I would meet him before he departed the Golden Triangle. But deep down, I'd already conceded that it probably wouldn't happen. Which was fine, because after all, I don't get starstruck.

Meeting celebrities was the furthest thing from my mind after driving back to my home in Orange from Beaumont at 1 a.m. last week. I had already scrubbed my face clean of makeup, brushed my teeth, and was all set to exchange my work clothes for pajamas and collapse into bed. But not before I checked Facebook.

On my news feed was a picture of my friend at Good Times Pub, right here in Port Arthur. Standing beside her was none other than Aaron Paul.

Feverishly, I left her a nearly unintelligble comment that ended with, "Is he still there? Because I'm sorely tempted to drive from Orange if he is."

She responded promptly: "Yes. Bar closes at 2. Speed."

I won't confirm whether or not I heeded her advice, since I have no way of knowing how many police officers are currently reading this. But I will confirm that, with little more than a gallon of gasoline in my tank and only a vague idea of the pub's location, I set out for Port Arthur at 1:30 a.m.   

At 2:01 a.m. — and 14 miles to empty — I pushed through the doors of Good Times, and there he was, mingling with patrons, snapping pictures with fans, and generally seeming to enjoy himself. Before I could talk myself out of it, I strode right up to Aaron and informed him, "I just drove 40 miles to meet you." Without preamble, he hugged me, and when we stepped back from one another, I asked if he had time for a picture. He obliged.

Afterwards, I didn't linger. I didn't want to infringe upon his good time (see what I did there?) and besides, I was shaking too violently to carry a conversation anyway.

The entire meeting lasted approximately two minutes and cost me $30 in gas, not to mention several glorious hours of sleep. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

After all, I was starstruck.

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA