The one where I almost met Robert Downey, Jr.


From left to right: Seniors Isabella Dascanio, Grace Horeczko, Anna DiCrisi, and Danielle Perez being attacked by a clown. (Photo provided by Danielle Perez ’22)

Anna DiCrisi, Story Editor

On Oct. 30, 2021, I, Anna DiCrisi, did not feel an ounce of pain when my body hit the pavement in a back alley parking lot of Knott’s Scary Farm. My head had an overabundance of liquified angst and salvation pouring out of it, and it manifested itself in a ramble of tears, stutters, and an inability to hold myself up. I was standing in front of a random stranger in a suit after my life had just been radically transformed.

Let’s step back a few chapters.

Setting: Saturday, Oct. 30.

We screen to a seemingly American domestic architecture two-story house with white base paint and black shutters. It’s around 5 p.m. From the corner of the shot, rays of sun sneak into the frame. Neighbors walk their dog across the sidewalk.

Lights up on a distraught teenage girl slumped on the corner of her downstairs couch. Oh, look, it’s me! Thank goodness; I was getting tired of this screenplay format.

Desperately searching for meaning through the want to star in a coming-of-age movie, I had to have plans on All Hallow’s Eve my senior year. So, on a whim of adrenaline, my friends and I all bought tickets to go to Scary Farm. I love Scary Farm. And seeing as I had not visited Scary Farm in two years, I was having withdrawals.

Seniors Danielle Perez, Isabella Dascanio, Grace Horeczko, and I are avid Halloween-dresser-uppers, so we decided to be festive. Despite the many announcements that Scary Farm puts out banning costumes, I figured you only live once, so why not just dress up in a fake beard and my brother’s blazer and really get in the spirit of things (that was a Halloween joke)?

No no. Despite the uncanny similarity, that is not a picture of Robert Downey Jr. It’s me. Cool, right? (Photo Credit: Anna DiCrisi ’22)

And I did. As the sun set outside my house, I donned a white Servite polo, dad jeans, black converse, black Tony Stark sunglasses, and a black blazer. I slicked my hair back like my inner greaser and took an eyeliner pen to my chin.

I hopped in my car, shut the door, took a deep breath and hit the road. I was an hour late to the event, which was not wise considering it was the night before Halloween. Moral of the story: there was no parking. It took me longer to find a parking lot than to drive to the actual park, which is a lot coming from my house in Costa Mesa. Not to mention, the dangerous confusing signs and close quarters of Buena Park streets barely spared my life that fateful night.

45 minutes later, I was finally in a lot. It was far away and sketchy, but it was still a lot. I found myself drawn by the powers that be to a tiny corner spot. To the left of it, there was a large black shiny vehicle. Intimidated, I decided to steer clear of it. As I tipped my head to open my car door, a man in a suit stepped out from behind it. He was tall, clean, and holding a phone to his ear. He looked a little out of place in my opinion, but remembering that I was also wearing a suit and a beard, he most likely saw me as an equal. I desperately wanted to avoid this man and any conversation about my style choices, so I stepped out of my Subaru and immediately turned away from him. It seems, however, I was too striking to go unnoticed.

He hung up his phone call.

“You know what’s funny?” he said. I did not turn around, so he repeated himself: “Excuse me, you know what’s funny?”

Being the only other person in the parking lot, I looked stupid as I pointed to myself and looked around just to be certain he wanted to make conversation with the 17-year-old girl in grown men’s clothing.

“Yeah,” he continued. “You’re dressed as Tony Stark, right?” I immediately lit up and smiled. Looking back, I should not let my guard down just because someone recognizes my costume. That could probably get me into trouble. Regardless, I nodded.

“You’ll never guess who is in the park right now,” he said. I stopped. No—the world stopped. I kept talking. My heart knew what he meant, but my head was in denial.

“What?” I responded.

“You’ll never guess who is in the park right now,” he repeated. He had a thing for repeating things. I looked to his car, then to him, then to the sky to pray.

“What are you saying to me right now?” I asked, my voice trembling. I knew exactly what he was saying to me. It could not have been true. The silence before and after I spoke was deafening; there was an unspoken mutual understanding between us.

He laughed a smart laugh that gave off the impression that he enjoyed holding this in front of me. “That’s right,” he said. “Robert’s in the park.”

I entered into what is known by the common folk as the seven stages of grief. “You’re messing with me,” I denied. “You can’t be serious.”

“I’m dead serious. I swear,” he promised. He motioned to his car: “This is a limousine. We just got here an hour ago.”

This is when it happened. I must have forgotten how to talk or how to stand. Or how to both talk and stand. I fell on the ground. He laughed at me. As if my physical health relied solely on my emotions, my nose started welling up with snot, and tears stored themselves in my bottom eyelids. No part of me was present enough to realize that I was on the ground of a sketchy Buena Park parking lot alone crying in front of a man in a suit who seemed rejuvenated by my complete loss of composure.

I pulled myself together long enough to ask “What do you think…do you think I could meet him?”

“He’s on a VIP tour with staff members,” he replied. “But you could certainly try.”

“Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay, I will, I will,” I said. I was going to meet him. I had to. Why else would he just happen to be there on the same night I was? Why else would I have dressed as him? Why else would I have parked next to him?

The man wished me luck, and I immediately called my mom. She answered to a shaky voice and an Anna-in-emotional-hysterics told her about my encounter. Like any good mother would, she assured me that I would meet him, and I would have the best night of my life. Feeling even more empowered, I hung up and prepared to enter the park.

After I told my friends, they were skeptical. They said they didn’t think he would have gone to Knott’s, especially not in a limousine. Whatever, I told myself. They didn’t see the man in the suit.

To distract myself from my unsuccessful pursuit, I formed a friendship with a monster from the roaring 20’s. (Photo Credit: Grace Horeczko ’22)

I called out for Robert the whole night. I waited for him to come up to me, blown away by my admiration and dedication. I went up to six employees and bored them with the details of my escapade. A few were unsettled by my enthusiasm, and a few told me they wouldn’t have been told if he was there. I kept trying to call to him. Unfortunately, there was no Robert to be found.

Almost giving up, I went up to another man in a suit. He looked me up and down, taking in me and all my possible motivations for running up to him before I opened my mouth.

“You look like you’re in charge,” I said.

“I am,” he said. He looked confident.

“Cool. Well, you see…” I went on and described my efforts to the man. He listened intently and then formulated his reply: “I haven’t been told that he is here today. I’ve only heard that there are celebrities in the park.” His eyes twitched in a way ever so voluntarily that I just knew he was fulfilling my dreams while simultaneously avoiding a lawsuit.

“Okay,” I said excitedly. “Okay, thank you.” I turned away from him.

At this point, I knew I wasn’t going to meet him. I had to be back at my car in ten minutes, and I had to walk out of the park in two. But I had something more powerful than a Robert now: I had hope. I took a deep breath and hoped that we were breathing the same polluted, man-made fog.

As I walked back to my car, I thought about what it would have been like. We would have made eye contact from across the way. A clown or a monster would have tried to come between us, but even they would have noticed this was not a moment to be interrupted. He would have walked to me and said, “I know you, don’t I?” I would have said, “Well, yes. I’m you.” My wit would have warranted a smile, and he would have shaken my hand and signed my glasses as well as my forehead. We would have taken a picture with peace signs, which he could have posted on his Instagram with the caption: “Love seeing what you guys come up with for Halloween! I am blessed with the best fans.” Yeah, you are Robert. And we would have been iconic.

When I finally got back to my car, I was deeply saddened to see the limousine gone already. I searched my car for a possible note or letter, but I soon remembered that he would not have walked a mile to his car if he had a chauffeur.

I sighed and took a selfie with the empty parking spot. What did you expect me to do?

I closed my door and looked once more to my left. Since that moment, I like to think about the conversation that took place between the man in the suit and Mr. Downey. I like to think it went something like this:

“Sir, there was a teenage girl dressed up as you today. She parked next to us.”

“Oh, yeah?” Robert would say.

“She really wanted to see you, sir,” he would reply. “She was getting emotional.”

“I wish we had gotten a photo.” He would laugh slightly then say, “I can’t believe she dressed as me to go to Knott’s. That makes me so happy.”

“She seemed like one of the good ones,” the man would say.

“I wish I met her.”

Me too, Robert. Me too.