What makes a good celebrity sighting? One key ingredient, of course, is the celebrity. But almost as important is the setting. Bruce Springsteen at the next gas pump is a celebrity sighting. Bruce Springsteen at Philips Arena is a concert. Ideally, there’s cognitive dissonance in a celebrity sighting. Like the time my cousin Brett saw Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair–mortal enemies in the rassling ring–driving down the interstate in a convertible Cadillac, apparently having a big old time. The key dissonance, of course, is the simple sight of a person who supposedly exists in  some other plane just walking around doing regular stuff. The fabulous and the mundane mashed up against one another. That’s what celebrity sightings are all about.

For Audience Participation Friday, we’d like to hear about your celebrity sightings. Maybe you’ve kissed Willie Nelson. Maybe you’ve been in the same restaurant as Indiana Jones. Do tell. I’ll prime the pump…

  • This past Christmas Eve I stood behind Ricky Skaggs in the cash register line at Williams Sonoma. It made me feel good to know that no less a personage than Ricky Skaggs was as bad a procrastinator as I was.
  • Apparently Trinity from The Matrix brushed against me on a crowded sidewalk. I didn’t know it was her, but the person I was with insisted it was. I don’t know if this counts as a “sighting” since I didn’t see her.
  • I have elsewhere described the time Bela Fleck played the banjo on an airport shuttle bus I had the pleasure of riding.
  • I saw Ben Folds on a hiking trail. Even out in there amongst nature’s beauties, he had the same hipster scowl he wears in all his music videos. I appreciated that.
  • The very same day I saw Ben Folds, I also saw Nicole Kidman twice in two different places. It’s bad enough to be stalked, but to be stalked by the rich and famous is a little frightening.
  • Oh, I almost forgot. I ran into Angelina Jolie at the Air and Space Museum gift shop. At first I thought she was just a really pretty lady with an adopted Asian baby, but I noticed there was a palpable buzz trailing behind her as she went from aisle to aisle, and it dawned on me who she was.

Well, that ought to get you started. Tell us about your brushes with greatness.

  • Jonathan Rogers
    1:09 PM, 5 November 2010

    My Aunt Jan jumped right on this one…via email. I’m cutting and pasting her comment here. The big question is what she and her sisters were doing on Bourbon Street. I’ll try to get to the bottom of this, dear reader; we may have a new amusing anecdote post in the near future. Jan, if you want to defend yourself, you’ll have to use the “Leave a Reply” box below. Otherwise we’re going to assume the worst about you and the sisters on Bourbon Street.
    Here are Jan’s remarks:

    I ran smack into Newt Gingrich at an Atlanta hotel coming out of the restroom. I said “oh, you’re Newt Gingrich.” He replied “ yes, I am.” Well, he might be President one day.

    When Roslyn, Ginger, Sylvia and I were in New Orleans strolling down Bourbon St. (only in the daytime) we met Wayne Newton. I thought you could only see him in Vegas these days.

    And then, one day many years ago, I caught Muhammed Ali getting out of a cab in Columbus and got his autograph.

  • Aaron Roughton
    2:04 PM, 5 November 2010

    I used to work out at a Gold’s gym in St. Petersburg, FL where several professional wrestlers were known to lurk about. But the Macho Man Randy Savage was there nearly every day. He rarely screamed or growled or ate Slim Jims, but he did wear what I would consider “professional wrestling attire” most days. We actually had a conversation. It went like this. Me: “You using that bench Randy?” Him: “Nope.”
    My mom and I saw Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman herself) in a Chilis in West Palm Beach. She was wearing a sporty nylon sweat suit and big circular sunglasses while she enjoyed some chips and salsa.

    I was once watching a recording session at Willie Nelson’s studios out here near Austin and I was introduced to an old feller and his wife in the green room who was there to play the fiddle. I graciously made small talk with the elderly while we watched the other musicians. Later I was looking at a photographic history of Texas music and recognized the old guy as none other than Johnny Gimble, one of the fathers of Texas swing.

    One time I was on Bourbon Street (not with Jonathan’s aunt) and we saw Scotty Pippen looming over the crowd. My friend went up to try and talk to him and he rudely told my friend to get lost. Now Mr. Pippen has grown up to be an upstanding member of the church where my uncle is the pastor in South Florida.

    I was going to add a story about how I met the famous shred rocker Russ Ramm-Z and his partner in crime the world renowned author J-Ro in Nashville this summer. But it was a stretch.

  • Jonathan Rogers
    2:20 PM, 5 November 2010

    Aaron, you better not have been on Bourbon Street with my aunts. And you better not have been wearing professional wrestling attire. I don’t know whom to trust any more.
    Glad to know Scotty Pippen is behaving better.

    You need to polish up your Johnny Gimble anecdote. When you said “Willie Nelson’s studio…old feller…there to play the fiddle” I immediately knew it was Johnny Gimble. Just a little friendly advice. Do what you want with it.

  • Patrick
    3:03 PM, 5 November 2010

    While I was at Walmart browsing art supplies for my work, I noticed a couple of teen boys nearby whispering to each other and occasionally stealing a glance in my direction as they talked. I looked around assuming they were looking at someone else, but there was no one else around. Now, I’m getting paranoid, but continue to act calm and finish up my shopping on that isle. As I’m about to walk away one of the guys stops me- clearly nervous himself- and asks for my autograph. I responded “who do you think I am?”The boy began to stutter “aren’t you Tom Green?”
    “No, I’m not. Sorry.” I don’t think he believed me. They continued to watch me as I went through the check out.
    I didn’t know who Tom Green was so I went to my office to look him up on the internet. When I saw a picture of him I felt insulted. I SO do not look like that guy!

    No, I’ve had no encounters with the rich and famous that I’m aware of. Being mistaken for one is as close as I can get.

  • Aaron Roughton
    3:23 PM, 5 November 2010

    Since neither of us are from Texas, we both have good excuses not to know who Johnny Gimble is. But the primary difference between us is that you don’t rest in your excuses like I do. You would never say something like, “Well, I’m not from here. I can’t be expected to know everything about a state in which I did not attend the 4th grade.” Or, “My dog ate 5 copies of my new book.” But that’s the kind of stuff that comes out of my mouth all the time.
    I forgot to mention the time I was at Threadgills in downtown Austin and saw the guy who played Michael Bolton in Office Space a table over from us.

    I also have a couple stories about my brother Matthew’s brushes with fame. He was working out in a gym in downtown Baltimore a few years ago when he noticed the only other person in there was Keanu Reeves. He walked over and introduced himself, and hoped that was ok. Keanu’s response, in full Bill and Ted fashion: “Absolutely. I’m Keanu.”

    Matthew was also in a popular local band in Tallahassee in the 90’s while we were at FSU. Another lesser known band was also trying to get attention at that time and would frequently call my brother and ask to split shows with them, since they didn’t have enough material to last an entire evening. My brother’s band didn’t want anything to do with them because they weren’t that good. A couple years later Creed’s first album went multi-platinum, and my brother wished he had split a show or two and gotten to know those fellers a little better.

  • Mark Geil
    5:07 PM, 5 November 2010

    When I was about 8 or 9, I was at this horrible little shopping mall near Raleigh, North Carolina. There was a massive line in one store because Chekov and Sulu from Star Trek were there for some sort of autograph signing event. I got excited. I was no “Trekkie”, but I was definitely a little boy in the age of Star Trek and Star Wars, and that was as close as I’d ever been to a real live fake space adventurer. I started begging to stand in the big long line, and Mom said no. Moms and their shopping. Sheesh.
    On the way out we passed through the same store. The line had not abated, and I craned my neck to try to get at least a glimpse of my part-time heroes. I finally managed to see Sulu. Mom was gracious and tried to mirror my enthusiasm. Then, when we left the store through some back exit, I found the missing space adventurer. There was Chekov, taking a break, leaning against a car. I couldn’t believe it. I gave Mom one of those looks – a nonverbal request for permission – and when she smiled and nodded I walked right up to him and extended my hand. He said hello, and I was shocked to hear that Chekov does not really have a Russian accent. Turns out Walter Koenig was born in Chicago. I also remember he had bushy eyebrows.

    I didn’t really know what to say, so I smiled and sputtered, “I’m a Trekkie!” as if to impress him. I think I might have gotten him to autograph a receipt or something before Mom sent us on our way. Didn’t want to rob all of the poor man’s break, after all. Moms and their decorum. Sheesh.

  • Terri DeFoor
    7:17 PM, 5 November 2010

    It’s hard to compete in a celebrity sightings contest with those who live in Nashville. I hear they are everywhere! But I will now offer my humble contribution.
    My sister, mom, and I used to rent a booth at The Big Peach Antiques mall just off the I75 Byron, GA exit. (Our endeavor was really just a grand excuse for feeding our weekend yard sale habit.) I was out at the mall just before closing time straightening up and dusting our booth when one of the clerks came by to tell me that Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter had just arrived to browse. They come once in a while just before closing, she said, so that they and their Secret Service Agents don’t interupt business. Just act casual, she said. No asking for autographs, she said. I put the second hand hard copy I had of a memoir he had written front and center of my little booth. I guess I was hoping he would stop and ask to sign it since I was not allowed to ask him to do so. I kept dusting and kept looking down the aisle. Sure enough, in just a few minutes they passed right by. I smiled and said “Hello,” and they did the same. It sure doesn’t take them long to browse. They looked more like power walkers but without the tennis shoes.

    Oh, I almost forgot! D.Jay and I rode in a Delta jet from Atlanta to Las Vegas with Evander Holyfield. He was pretty tall sitting all folded up in the back of the plane with regular folks. In fact, his presence there made me doubt it was him. “What’s he doing sitting here in coach?” I directed a whispered question to D.Jay, who then reminded me that it had been a while since Mr. Holyfield’s days in the boxing limelight. Nice guy, though. He was traveling alone and traded seats with a man who wanted to sit by his wife.

    And that, I believe, is the extent of my celebritiy sightings.

  • Joe
    7:44 PM, 5 November 2010

    In reverse chronological order:
    A couple of months ago I saw Scott Hamilton coming out of the target in Brentwood. I simply nodded to him, and he was exiting through the “In” doors that one of my boys and I was about to enter. He looked to be in a hurry, and had a son with him too. Ironically, my wife had seen Scott and his wife at the Whole Foods in Green Hills a year or so before that.

    When I lived in Chattanooga I had a membership at World’s Gym. I walked in one day and noticed a couple of big guys working out that weren’t regulars. Next thing I know, there’s Dwayne Johnson aka “The Rock.” We exchanged greetings and went about our respective business. He really is/was quite huge, and seemed genuinely friendly. Apparently there was a big WWF event in town that night, and they were getting a workout in beforehand.

    I grew up in MD, and one afternoon my cousin Mark and I had been hitting some golf balls at Tom Mitchell’s Golf (a very cool place with multiple mini-golf courses, 9 hole golf course, driving range, and batting cages). We were finishing up and about to go put our bags in the car when I noticed a guy over at the batting cages. I said to my cousin, “Hey, I think that guy was in the movie Dead Poets Society.” My cousin went on to the car, but I had to go and find out. So, I went up to him and asked him if he’d been in DPS, and sure enough it was Josh Charles who played Knox Overstreet in the movie (the dude that wrote the poem and read it to the girl at her school, if you don’t immediately remember his character). Josh was at the batting cages getting ready for a softball game he was playing in that night. I distinctly remember his brand new Air Jordan basketball shoes, his complaining about the blisters on his hand, and how quickly profanity fell from his lips – which certainly helped me not to put him upon any unnecessary pedestals.

  • Jonathan Rogers
    7:57 PM, 5 November 2010

    Wow, Aaron…the guy who played Michael Bolton in Office Space? What kind of star-studded life are you living in Austin?
    Mark, your story is brilliant. Sulu and Chekov in a mall in North Carolina. You can’t make something like that up.

    And Terri, I would have loved to see you and Jimmy Carter and the Secret Service at the Big Peach. For future reference, though, authors don’t get all that excited about seeing their books in antique stalls. That’s probably why they didn’t browse longer.

    I’m also enjoying the mental image of Joe and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson working out side by side. Glad to hear he seems genuinely friendly. I thought he was brilliant in “Tooth Fairy.”

  • Aaron Roughton
    8:31 PM, 5 November 2010

    Joe, that’s amazing! I forgot that I had a Josh Charles sighting as well, the very summer that Dead Poets Society came out. I was at a Braves game in Atlanta and he was sitting a few rows up from us. He wasn’t acting famous at all, and seemed surprised that anyone had recognized him when we asked for his autograph.

  • Aaron Roughton
    8:32 PM, 5 November 2010

    And yes Jonathan, I live large out here. Do you like how the guy that played Michael Bolton is so famous that I don’t even know his real name?

  • Kristen
    8:46 PM, 5 November 2010

    The most common Nashville celebrity sighting that I’ve heard of is that of Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman. After living here for five years, I still had never seen the duo (despite my normal errands taking me to many of their frequented locations). That is…until two weeks ago.
    I was in Whole Foods in Green Hills, and headed to their cafeteria area. I saw a handsome couple chatting and thought “Hey, that looks like Keith Urban!” He looked up at that instant and I realized it was. I smiled and continued on my way, and heard the conversation they shared with their friend (who they were also sharing lunch with). “I’ve heard Shanghai is really beautiful this time of year” was the only snippet I got – a stark contrast to my typical lunch conversations that sounds more like “I’ve heard Amazon has great diaper deals.”

    There you have it, folks. My big celebrity sighting.

  • Tom Hoffman
    9:00 PM, 5 November 2010

    Karl Haas was the creator and host of the longest running daily classical music program in broadcast history, Adventures in Good Music. Still don’t recognize him? That’s okay. My story lacks pop culture star quality, but makes up for it by actually doing physical harm to the man.
    In my second senior year in college my roommate, an opera and classical music fanatic, had cerebral palsy. (He still does.) He had season tickets to the Indiana University opera, but couldn’t get himself there. So the other roommates and I took turns bringing him. He was probably not the only one that hoped a little culture would rub off on me while we were there.

    One evening at the Musical Arts Center there was a tribute concert honoring the violinist, Joshua Bell, an IU alum. Bob got good seats, which meant I had to lift him out of his chair by his armpits and carry him over the other patrons to his seat in the center of the theater. As we did, I stepped on, you guessed it, Karl Haas. Our combined weight might have been considerable, but all he did was grunt (with a German accent). I noticed, though, that everyone else in the row gave us much more room as we passed.

  • Jen
    9:02 PM, 5 November 2010

    I ran into John Corbett at the Copper Kettle a couple of years ago. He was surrounded by quite an entourage and seemed very friendly despite the fact that he was wearing head to toe black leather in August.
    One night some girlfriends and I went out for sushi at Ginza in Green Hills. On our way to the restaurant Bridgett had a feeling that we were going to eat with Keith and Nicole. Low and behold if Keith Urban did not drive up on his motorcycle, walk in the door and eat at the sushi bar… But we only give her a little credit for predicting it, because he was sans Nicole. (I’ve also run into them at Whole Foods. Some guy was hanging out of his car with his jaw dragging behind his back wheel staring at my son and me as we walked down the road. Just as I said, “What in the world did I do?” right out loud, I turned around and saw the Urban/Kidman duo walking behind me. Kind of embarrassing).

    My mom and I also went on the NashTrash tour. Does that count? (And I’ve talked to David Copperfield’s personal assistant on the phone and heard him in the background. I’ll save that story for Kevin Bacon day).

  • Jonathan Rogers
    9:27 PM, 5 November 2010

    Tom, it wouldn’t have occurred to me that physical harm might make up for lack of star power in an anecdote, but I see what you mean. Thanks.
    Had to Google John Corbett, but that’s a good one, Jen. I hope you didn’t make a lame joke about My Big Fat Greek fried goat cheese salad.

    I don’t wish to belittle Bridgett’s accomplishment in predicting that yall would see Keith and Nicole, but as this thread demonstrates, it’s hard not to see them if you go out to eat in Green Hills. I think maybe their house doesn’t have a stove. I’m reminded of a “You’re so Nashville if…” entry in the Nashville Scene a few years ago: “You’re so Nashville if you have to lock your studio door to keep Emmy Lou Harris from singing backup on your record.”

    The judges have disqualified your NashTrash tour, Jen. If you paid for a ticket, it’s not a celebrity sighting. But the David Copperfield thing has potential. We eagerly await the full version.

    Kristen, I’ve been thinking on your remark, “Hey, that guy looks like Keith Urban.” There are certain venues in this town (Whole Foods being one of them) where most of the guys look like Keith Urban. It’s hard to be sure unless Nicole Kidman is there too. For that reason, the judges are considering not counting Jen’s sushi bar sighting.

  • Aaron Roughton
    9:37 PM, 5 November 2010

    He grunted with a German accent. That is downright hilarious.

  • Jonathan Rogers
    9:48 PM, 5 November 2010

    You are correct, Aaron. That is hilarious. I was remiss not to mention it already. Tom is a hilarious guy. I wish the two of you knew each other. You would get along famously.
    By the way, has anybody seen Sally? She was supposed to tell us about the time she kissed Willie Nelson. It was her idea to have Celebrity Sighting Day in the first place.

  • Amy
    10:03 PM, 5 November 2010

    Recently, Jon and I bumped into Mary Steenburgen getting off the elevator at the Icon. She is really, really pretty in person.
    I picked up Wilma Rudolph at the airport once. Actually met her at her gate – she just flew right into town on a regular ol’ airplane. But then she walked off. She was so tall. And so beautiful. And had a full length mink coat on. Long painted nails. Perfect hair and makeup. She was also very charming and sweet.

    Other sightings of country music fame, but my favorite celebrity encounter was back in 1964. About 2 weeks before I was born. My older sisters and some friends (6 or 7 total) had conned my mom into going to the Dallas airport to try and get a glimpse of — The Beatles. They were in the car when the girls realized that their LIMO was very close by. So, they started screaming and jumped out of the car, ran and jumped over a hedge straight for the limo. We (me and my mom) put the car in park and ran after, jumping hedges and all. The girls were found draped over the limo with faces smashed to the windows. So, before I was even born I was just a few feet away from The Beatles. Seems like it was just Yesterday.

  • Jonathan Rogers
    10:14 PM, 5 November 2010

    The Beatles? Prenatal? Amy, you’ve really outdone yourself. Great story.

  • Jonathan Rogers
    10:40 PM, 5 November 2010

    Patrick, if you’re still there, I love that detail that your fans didn’t believe that you weren’t Tom Green. I’m not familiar with him either, but it’s funny that you had trouble convincing people that you weren’t him. In any case, we can all picture what you look like now.
    Aaron, I’ve got another question for you. You said your brother wondered if it was ok to introduce himself to Keanu, and Keanu said, “Absolutely. I’m Keanu.” What did that “Absolutely” mean? Did it mean, “I’m unmistakeably Keanu”? or did it mean “Of course it’s ok to introduce yourself. Why should I mind? I’m Keanu. Nothing bothers me, man”? I hope hope hope it’s the second.

  • S.D. Smith
    10:48 PM, 5 November 2010

    We spent a couple days in Paris on our way back to the USA once and we stayed the last night in Charles de Gaulle so we could catch an early flight. We slept in these pod-like things and it was sorta weird. My dad and I shared one and we watched French TV (because it was France and it was a TV). We watched an American movie from the 60s, overdubbed in French (because it was France) and went to sleep. The next day, in line at the airport, we saw this well-tanned guy standing in a line about ten feet away. Dad said to us, “I recognize that guy, but can’t remember his name.” (He was not the kind of kid who would pick celebrity assistant as a profession, believe me). He puzzled over it for a while. Then he just asked him. “Hey, you’re an actor, right?”
    The guy said, “Yes,” went back to minding his beezwax.

    Dad, unconcerned, said, “What’s your name?”

    “George Hamilton.”

    “Oh, right,” Dad said. “Hey, we were watching a movie with you in it last night and I just saw the first half…” Dad proceeded to recount what had happened so far, then said, “It was pretty good, but I fell asleep. Can you tell me how it ended?”

    “I don’t remember,” George said, tried to look like the conversation was over.

    “It was good,” Dad said. “You did a god job.”

    “Thanks,” George Hamilton said.

    Now, I would have had a conversation like that as a joke, but Dad was, as usual, earnest and unaffected.

    He once met Mountaineer football’s legendary QB Major Harris in the bathroom at a West Virginia basketball game and told us about it when he came back to our seats (we were little kids and Major was, well, a major-huge hero to us all). We were all like, “Did you get his autograph, did you, did you?!!”

    “I’m a fifty-year old man,” he said.”I’m not asking a kid for an autograph in the bathroom.”

  • Jonathan Rogers
    10:50 PM, 5 November 2010

    S.D., I don’t know your dad. But maybe I do. This is great stuff.

  • S.D. Smith
    10:51 PM, 5 November 2010

    Peculiar: Seems like those Roughton boys spend a lot of time in gyms.
    And: I ALWAYS get mistaken for Tom Green. Like, hundreds of times. Probably because I look exactly like him (esp. w/ a goatee –one of the reasons I haven’t had one in years).

  • sally apokedak
    1:42 AM, 6 November 2010

    My story is disqualified because I kissed Willie in the parking lot after a concert. Yes, his fabulous cheek was mashed up against my mundane lips, but…I couldn’t bring myself to break the rules.
    I’m enjoying all the stories, though. I am particularly jealous of Amy getting to see the Beatles while she was yet in the womb.

  • Joe
    1:52 AM, 6 November 2010

    Jonathan, as I recall “The Rock” had just finished with his workout when I arrived. He conversed with with the gym staff and had a picture taken with them. Your interpretation is far more interesting, though.
    I can sympathize with S.D. a bit. When I was in high school, I was mistaken on quite a few occasions for “Doogie Howser.” One instance in particular stands out. My parents and I were about to go into a movie theater in a mall in Frederick, MD. We were minding our own business when we heard a high-pitched scream followed by laughter as two girls immediately made their way back out of the mall doors through which they’d just come. Amidst their obvious excitement, I heard one them utter “Doogie” and then knew what the commotion was about.

    And just because I endeavor to avoid poor grammar when possible, in the Scott Hamilton story I should have written “one of my boys and I were” not “was.” Ugh.

  • Patrick
    2:00 AM, 6 November 2010

    I don’t think Sally should be disqualified. If it was the parking lot after the concert then I doubt that was included with the price of the ticket. What’s that story, Sally?

  • sally apokedak
    3:01 AM, 6 November 2010

    OK Patrick. You’re right. The kiss was not included in the price of the ticket. Here’s my story:
    February 8, 1983. Sullivan Arena. Anchorage, Alaska.

    After a concert my boyfriend and I noticed Willie standing with a few people beside a bus in the back parking lot.

    “Let’s go see if we can get a bandana for your sister,” I said. Apparently Willie threw a bandana into the crowd at every concert. My boyfriend’s sister, a huge fan, had spoken of little else for weeks leading up to the concert. She’d been desperate to get that bandana. But she’d left the concert, minutes earlier, empty-handed and heartbroken.

    When we got to the bus, a teenaged boy and his mother were chatting with Willie. “Where are you going next?” the woman asked.

    Willie, standing in the cold Alaskan night, gave a little groan. “I’m headed to Hawaii in a couple of hours. I just flew in this morning and have to fly right back out again.” He sounded tired, but he took the poster the boy held out and signed it.

    I wasn’t a fan. I would have never gone to the concert if my boyfriend and his sister hadn’t been so excited about it. But I thought Willie was really nice standing there, jet-lagged and freezing, taking time with the boy. There weren’t even any cameras around.

    He finished talking to the kid and turned to see what I wanted.

    He wasn’t wearing a bandana. His hair was pulled back into a ponytail. I babbled out my story about my friend who really loved him and who was so disappointed that she didn’t get his bandana. Then, stupidly, I asked for his hair tie.

    He squinted at me. “What do you want?”

    I interpreted his look to mean, “I think you just asked for my hair tie, but I must have misheard you, because nobody could be that ridiculous.” Even so, I pointed to his head. “Your hair tie. May I have that, please?”

    He looked over at a man who had been lounging against the bus the whole time, and his expression said, “Can you believe this?” Then he pulled the elastic band from his ponytail and handed it over.

    I was so moved by his generosity that I reached over, hooked my arm around his shoulders, and said, “You’re great. I love you. My friend is going to be so happy to get this.” And I planted a kiss on his cheek.

    I was young and I lived in Alaska, which is a long way from the bright lights of Nashville, and I didn’t realize you weren’t supposed to place your hands (or your lips) on celebrities. I didn’t really understand that Willie was a celebrity, I guess. I just thought he was a good old boy. So I was surprised when his friend shouted, “Whoa,” then pushed himself off the bus and came at me. At the same time, my boyfriend—apparently as much of a Willie fanatic as his sister—yelled at the top of his lungs, “She kissed Willie Nelson! Don’t ever wash those lips, Babe.”

    We all froze for a moment and stared at my boyfriend.

    Then Willie starts laughing and pulls his friend back. “It’s OK. No big deal.” A woman comes from behind the bus. “What happened?” she asks. The bodyguard/friend dude answers, “She kissed him. She just grabbed him!” I’m thinking, “Hmm. Maybe that wasn’t an appropriate way to show my appreciation.” My boyfriend, Shallow Hal, keeps going on and on. “I can’t believe you kissed Willie Nelson.” He starts pawing at me. “Let me kiss your lips.” And Willie stands there laughing.

    We must have looked like the two stooges. I skedaddled on out of there as fast as I could with my soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend trying desperately to get to my lips. We got fifteen feet away and fell faces-first into a snow bank.

    Half an hour later I was surprised a second time when I gave my friend the hair tie and it made her so unhappy. Then I figured out that she never really wanted the bandana. What she wanted was an experience. A brush with greatness. She wanted to be the one to kiss Willie (she and my boyfriend, both, I guess). I never heard her talk about Willie again. I spoiled him for her.

    But Willie gained a new fan that night. He obviously didn’t think the talent God gave him made him better than other people. Tired as he was, he stood out in the cold and gave his time to weird people making idiotic requests. That, in my estimation, made him great. He also seemed to have a decent sense of humor, which is a handy thing to have, I think.

  • Patrick
    3:38 AM, 6 November 2010

    That’s definitely my favorite story today. Thank you, Sally.

  • Heather Ivester
    10:26 PM, 7 November 2010

    That’s a great story from Sally. Maybe these should be compiled into a gift book of some sort?
    I guess my biggest celebrity sighting was seeing Michael Jackson shopping for souvenirs in Kyushu, Japan. That would have been in 1992. They shut the store down while he shopped, and hundreds of Japanese girls waited outside, chanting his name. I was traveling with my homestay family, and my Japanese dad asked, “Who is this Michael Jackson? Is he famous?”

    Afterwards, he came out and waved one white glove at all of us. For a moment, I felt like he and I were the only native English speakers on the island, and it made me homesick.

    I also went to high school with Julia Roberts, but I guess that doesn’t count, since she wasn’t famous yet. Everybody just called her “Julie” back then.

    • Jonathan Rogers
      10:40 AM, 8 November 2010

      Sally, you did not disappoint. I loved Willie Nelson already; you’ve given me more reasons. And I love the readers of Jonathan-Rogers.com. As Audience Participation Fridays show (and this one especially), there’s a lot of brilliance among a relatively small group of readers.
      Homesick Heather, I once had a roommate who went to your high school. I asked him what he remembered about Julia Roberts. All he could remember was that she had great hair.

  • Aaron Roughton
    2:28 PM, 8 November 2010

    That Willie Nelson story is outstanding.

  • Canaan Bound
    5:29 AM, 25 November 2010

    My grandfather (on my dad’s side) moved to Long Island from Bari, Italy when he was 14. He worked as a shoe shiner and eventually became a cobbler. When he wanted to bring his family to the States, but hadn’t the money, he contacted (none other than) the Italian Mafia. They helped him out. And of course, he paid them back.
    My grandmother (on my dad’s side) did sewing for the Bouvier family when Jackie was a teenager. Apparently, they were girls with an eye for fashion.

    My grandfather (on my mon’s side) was a Colonel in the airforce and was close friends with Chuck Yeager. He once brought Buzz Aldrin home for dinner, much to the excitement of his nine children. My mom then snagged Buzz’ autograph. Too bad she doesn’t know where it is.

    Also, when my mom’s family was stationed in Annandale, VA, she lived down the street from Mark Hamill. According to her, they never played together because, “his sister was somewhat of a snot”.

    MY first celebrity encounter occured when I was 10, selling Girl Scout cookies at a booth outside the mall. A short, jolly, bald man approached us and asked for a box of Thin Mints. He plunked down a $20 and told us to “keep the change”. (They were $2 a box back then.) Astonished, we looked at each other and asked, “Was that Scott Hamilton?” Later that day, we heard that the Ice Capades were in town.

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