In another of my Facebook surveys, I asked my approximately 1,200 friends to share their close encounters with greatness. The responses came in fast and furious, 29 in total, or a tiny percentage of the sample audience. Yet, the list of famous people was nothing short of impressive.
From letting Richard Gere go in front in a drug store line-up to throwing up on Johnny Depp in the L. A. airport, from "belly bucking" Jon Voight to hitting Pierre Trudeau with a car door, having close encounters with the rich and famous seems to be a cottage industry.
As part of the discussion I shared several personal stories, the most famous of which happened at the Saskatoon Holiday Inn when I was working room service there in 1987 or 1988. I walked into Dennis Quaid's room using my master key, thinking he was not there. I had knocked many times. He was there--passed out naked on his bed.
Later that morning, Jerry Lee Lewis called down and ordered some orange juice and a banana. The bill was maybe $3. He gave me $20 and said "keep the change!" That was the biggest tip I had received to date or since.
Finally, I shared the time I was down in Nashville for the Country Radio Seminar in 1998. As part of that gathering of radio folk from across North America, artists sit in a room and sign autographs and voice liners for any station that wants them. The line-ups for the huge stars were long and daunting, the line-ups for the mid-range stars were sparse yet respectful. One line-up didn't form at all, for a group that was just new to the charts, struggling to find an audience. They looked so eager sitting there, hoping that someone would come and visit, so I did. I have a lovely signed photo of the group gathering dust in my box of memories. They called themselves the Dixie Chicks.
The stories of brushes with greatness tumbled in. Someone bought Kim Mitchell a pack of gum at K-MART. Another partied with Kanye West and Halle Berry. A good friend sat next to actor Dave Thomas (SCTV) at the Vancouver Airport. My first cousin walked into a sound check and sat next to Brian Wilson as he adjusted levels.
The names rolled in: Tim Robbins, Alec Baldwin, Buzz Aldrin, Kelsey Grammar, Kevin Lowe, Justin Trudeau, Corbin Bernsen, Virginia Madsen, Sean Paul, Beyonce, Ricky Martin, Jessica Simpson, John Legend, Lewis Black, John Candy, Geddy Lee and even Donkey from Shrek!
I would like to share one of the stories verbatim, as it is a classic.
From Gary John, Fort McMurray, Alberta:
I was two and my brother was four, we were watching a field hockey game my father was playing in. There was a grand total of five spectators. We became bored and began play fighting as boys will do. One of the other two spectators came over to tell Mum that "the Princess was more interested in watching your boys playing than she was in the game".
The Princess (who was to become Queen Elizabeth II) was there to watch her husband (Prince Philip) play hockey against my Dad's team. So my close encounter was that I can say "I fought for" (or in front of) the Queen.
Onward, the waters of close encounters kept flowing: Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Burton Cummings, Jennifer Lopez (just last week), Jason Priestly (by email), Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett from Star Wars), Lennox Lewis (on an airplane), Robin Williams (at a comic book shop), Benjamin Pratt, Patrick Stewart....
I'm not sure what all these close encounters add up to except to illustrate that we truly live in a small world and perhaps, that greatest is all around us, you just have to pay attention.
April 30, 2010 - 191.2 pounds, 27.2% body fat