You never know who you might meet. Growing up in Williamsburg, I had the opportunity to meet, or sort of meet, some famous people. I can’t say that any of them really got to know me, but here are some snippets of what is was like sort of meeting some celebrities.
Bruce Hornsby: There is not an ounce of celebrity in this guy. He is a regular dude. When I met him I tried not to drool, but it didn’t work. Bruce was patient with my ridiculousness and then just went about talking to me as another guy who grew up in Williamsburg. Super cool. I saw Bruce in concert a few years ago in Delaware. The show was magic. He played alone, just the songs and his piano. He played all types of music and even included a few of his hits, but he played with confidence and purpose that inspired me to get back into writing. More than getting to hear him play Mandolin Rain or The Dreaded Spoon, I got the sense that he was having fun. I was lost in his virtuosity and would put that show up there with EWF, Santana, and Clapton as the best I’ve ever seen. His show kickstarted my writing, something I had neglected for far too many years. Blogging came soon thereafter, and if nothing else, I have fun doing so. I’m no Bruce Hornsby, but I love sharing my writing.
I owe him…
Margaret Thatcher: I’ve written about her before and I wish I had been dressed a little more respectfully when she acknowledged Matt and me standing beside the road as she headed to a state dinner with other world leaders. She was the only ‘important person” to acknowledge us standing there and my cut off jeans and a torn white Yale gym shirt I adopted from the lost and found at William and Mary were beneath old Maggie. She was a lot nicer than the dudes who drove by. They didn’t even look over. Heck, Reagan arrived in a helicopter and never even passed us by. Mrs. Thatcher did, though, and I thought it pretty cool.
Susan Lucci: I held the door for her as she got off the Skyride at Busch Gardens. That was a big thrill for a sixteen year old kid in blue knickers and a puffy shirt. I read recently, that the Erica Kane character was a some sort of archetype for women on the soaps. I’ll admit to watching Days of Our Lives, so my knowledge of Erica Kane’s groundbreaking model is not on any of my lists of expertise, but Ms. Lucci “watched her head and step” as she exited the gondola, just as I had asked her to do. Then she kept right on walking to the Festhaus where there was some kind of promotional thing going on. If there was anything archetypical going on, it was appreciation, as Ms. Lucci was all smiles and quick with a thank you as she left the ride.
Vincent Price: He was O.G. and riding high as the voice in Michael Jackson’s Thriller. He walked onto the platform of the Loch Ness Monster, scrunched into the back seat of the ride, and rode twice without so much as a hair out of place. I remember him asking with his great theatrical voice, “May I ride again, son?” I just waved the train through ZZ Top style. When he returned to the station, Mr. Price thanked all of us on the platform. He was polite and expressed his appreciation for our help. Classy.
Lawrence Taylor: Yep, the Hall of Fame football player. I benefitted from his success through a donation he made to our (we went to the same) high school. I can’t imagine the pressure he must have felt to be the kind of athlete he was, but I also can’t understand the man he became. We had an opportunity to talk after he gave a disappointing speech at our high school and I walked away from the conversation thinking that he was a person who operated with different values than me.
I guess I haven’t gotten to meet very many famous people. I think I sat next to Andrew Wyeth at a diner. I’m sure I stood next to Kate of Plus 8 fame in a mall. She was doing a good job of not being recognized, but my double take at the mall map gave her a bit of panic, if it was her. I’m also pretty sure I was behind David Chappell in line at a Toys-R-Us, but I didn’t talk to him as he looked busy with Easter shopping, if it was him. Neither did I spend any significant time with the people I met. Mostly, I know them from first impressions. I guess it’s true that the first impression sticks with a person a long time. What has stuck with me the longest is that for all of their fame, these celebrities were “real” people. I got a sense in these brief encounters of what each person might be like. I don’t know for sure what they were all about, but it’s kind of cool to realize that celebrities are just like us, only with more attention given to what they do.