It was May 2001 and I was fresh out of undergrad. One of my teachers had helped me score an internship with 20th Century Fox at the Cannes Film Festival.
I had never been out of the country before, and was a little reluctant, but my teacher insisted I would have the time of my life, so I packed my bags and flew off to Cannes, France.
In the next two weeks I would crash parties, make it onto the cover of The Hollywood Reporter, go to Hugh Hefner's 75th birthday party and end up on E!'s "Wild on the Riviera" television show. (If you can find a copy, I'm the drunk guy jumping into the Mediterranean in his tux.)
But in the beginning I didn't know what to expect.
Through my internship, I managed to swipe a few extra tickets to the premiere of the biggest film of the festival that year, "Moulin Rouge
I was thrown into a apartment share with a couple of other guys, and together we came up with the brilliant idea to rent tuxes (the last three in town), which we were sure would act as babe magnets.
It worked. In no time I was walking up the red carpet with two women.
After the showing ended, with ladies on each arm, we sauntered into the "Moulin Rouge" after-party, which was full of can-can dancers and men on stilts breathing fire. From my boring life in the Midwest to this was like being granted early entrance into heaven.
We had so much fun that night, the next day we decided to push our luck.
We crashed the BMW Film party, where Jesse Jackson was promoting a recent documentary he was in. My friend Doris and I went over to introduce ourselves to Mr. Jackson and his wife.
I extended my hand and said, "Mr. Jackson, how do you do?" Now, this guy hadn't met me before in my life, but he took my hand and said, "Yes. Yes. Good to see you again."
Pretending you remember someone is something everyone has done, but Mr. Jackson did it while staring straight down Doris's (very low-cut) dress. (Keep in mind this is May 2001 and Jesse, just months earlier, had been busted for cheating on his wife.)
After that we kinda decided we had a good thing going, so the next day we crashed the Jamaican Film Commission party.
So we donned our tuxes again. (They were due back at the shop that afternoon -- I still have mine).
With no tickets we were immediately denied, but my buddy Isaiah and I didn't let that stop us. We walked down to the other side of the beach where the gazebo for the party ended and scaled a freakin' wall.
Sometime after the rum started kicking in, I noticed a man and woman were standing at a microphone asking people questions.
The man shouted a question to which I promptly blurted
out the answer. The man at the mic eyed me for what seemed like forever. I was sure we had been caught and were about to be marched out of the tent in front of a room full of celebrities.
But then a smile broke on the man's face and he asked me to kneel, put one of those fake-dreadlock Rastafarian hats on my head and said a bunch of words in such a thick accent I couldn't make them out.
The woman by his side was Sheryl Lee Ralph, the actress who played the mom on "Moesha."
She could tell I was confused so she told me the man was the Jamaican Prime Minister and said, "You've just been crowned an honorary Jamaican citizen."
My teacher was right -- it was time of my life.
But in the back of my mind I sometimes worry that 10 years from now two Rastafarians are going to show up at my door demanding 20 years of back taxes.
Michael Grothaus is a staff writer for The Unofficial Apple Weblog, where he rarely gets to wear a tux.