Thursday, November 14, 2013

Brushes with Greatness

It seems to be a common component of the human condition to be impressed by people because they are famous, even people who are famous for being as useful as Lindsey Lohan at a…at a…Lindsay Lohan pretty much anywhere.  I freely admit I am right there with all those other humans. 

The other night I was watching television.  That’s a lie.  I was watching a television show on my computer via (he says hoping the people at hulu will see I mentioned them and be grateful enough to send me a check for the unsolicited solicitation on their behalf – I am willing to lend my column out for flagrant begging).  The show had a scene which took place in a hat store.  I almost fell out of my chair when I recognized the store as the place I had visited in New York City.  The very place I went with my daughter and spent an unconscionable amount of money on two fancy hats was on TV.  I was so excited I had to tell people that one place on that one television show is a place I once stood.  How cool is that? 

Actually, not that cool at all.  It is a store in one of the most densely populated cities in the United States.  It is a store in one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country.  It is less than a block from the Empire State Building.  There have been thousands of people in that store.  I am far from special.  But I still texted people in a sad attempt to be associated with famous.  (By the way, the name of the store is J. J. Hat Center.  I am saying that in hopes they will send me a new Borsalino fedora – size seven and half – in gratitude for the plug.  See previous parenthetical for my explanation for having no shame.)

I once lived in one the epicenters of famous people, Los Angeles, California.  Really there were movie stars just walking around like they actually were people who had to eat and buy stuff and mundane things  like that.  Weird, huh? 

I worked at a bookstore and Jonathan Banks (a talented character actor in tons of things from 48 Hrs. to Breaking Bad) asked if there were any Ansel Adams calendars.  I hopped to it and went to the backroom to find what he wanted.  He was very nice and thanked me.  I responded that is it was the least I could do considering that very morning I had watched John Lithgow choke him death.  I had been watching The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension and he had indeed been killed by Lithgow.  This started a conversation with him about how he doesn’t live through a lot of his movies.  He asked if I had seen Beverly Hills Cop and the guy behind him in line reminded him that Eddie Murphy had shot him in that one.  (Oh, yeah.)

There were two pinnacles of brushes with greatness at my bookstore job.  George Carlin came in looking for some sort of philosophy book.  I held myself together and took him to the proper place in the store and we looked.  We didn’t have it.  I said we really are just a top forty bookstore and he laughed.  George Carlin laughed at ME.  One of the first people to ever make me fall of the couch laughing released a small giggle at something I said.  I am never washing these ears again. 

The other one was Dick Van Dyke.  He stepped up to the cash register and I lost the power of speech and movement for a second.  Rob Petrie was who I wanted to be when I grew up.  Dick Van Dyke was a comedy god to me.  At first all I could muster was “That’ll be seven dollars and forty-eight cents.”  Then as he turned to go I blurted out.  “I am a huge fan of your work.”  He turned and gave me a big genuine smile saying “That is always so nice to hear.”  I think I fainted. 

I was in the store as a customer to get a friend a birthday card.  John Larroquette was there.  I approached him and asked if he would sign the card I had purchased for my friend.  He asked if I thought my friend would believe he had actually signed it.  I was too polite to say if I was going to make up someone to sign the card it would be someone more famous than him.  He refused the mere Bic I offered him and signed it with a fountain pen from his breast pocket. 

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