This Girl's... Brushes With Fame

When I was a kid growing up in Pittsburgh in the early 90s and the Penguins had their back-to-back Stanley Cup wins, I remember my mom and dad let me stay up late to watch the final game, and then we ended up going to the airport in the middle of the night with hundreds of other crazy fans to greet them when they got back in town.  Even as a kid, caught up in the push-and-shove of the crowd, I couldn't believe I was actually getting glimpses of my favorite hockey players (at the time) - Mario Lemieux, Bob Errey, Troy Loney - and it was something I was so dumbfounded to be a part of.

I don't take my brushes with fame lightly.  I'm usually quiet and tongue-tied, although on a few occasions, I haven't been able to help myself and have walked right up to some celebrities and talked to them as if I knew them - a trick I learned from my dad.


I guess it started with George.

In 1999, my family was traveling to Las Vegas for my brother's wedding. We had a layover at the airport in Houston and while we were walking the concourse, we passed a big, towering man, who for some reason, smiled and nodded at my dad. Dad said, "Hello, George."

At first, I wasn't sure who the guy was, but he looked awfully familiar. He replied, "Hello, sir." This exchange happened so casually, that anybody else that had seen it wouldn't have thought anything of it. But I had to ask my dad who it was, because I just couldn't place him. And how did my dad know someone in Houston? He chuckled and told me, "That was George Foreman, baby."

I stared at my dad, open-mouthed, as he just smiled. As if he and George were longtime friends that always just happen to bump into each other and say hi.


You can't fool me!

A couple years ago, my husband and I were staying with his family at Disney in Orlando and had breakfast one morning at the Polynesian. While we were all wandering around some of the shops at the resort, my husband noticed a strange character wearing big Elton-John style sunglasses and a straw cowboy hat. He was tall and lanky and looked like he just had to be somebody, but at first, my husband wasn't sure who.

"That guy looks like somebody, doesn't it?"
When I finally spotted the guy he was referring to, I did a double-take. "That's the guy from Train!"
"What's his name?"
"Pat Monahan. Holy cow. They just won a Grammy. Oh, my God!"
"Should we go say something?"
"I don't know. I'll go if you go."
"What do we say?"

I had a bright idea. "We should say, 'Hi, Pat, just wanted to say I like your music, and congrats on the Grammy!'"

After some more nervous debating, my husband and I finally decided to approach him. He saw us coming, and kind of smiled, like he knew his 'cover' was blown. I was going over my line in my head... "Love your music, congratulations on the Grammy!" when my husband stuck his hand out, shook hands with him, and stole all my thunder.

"Hey, Pat, just wanted to say, I'm a big fan. Congratulations on the Grammy!"

All I could do was shake his hand and smile. Dammit.

Two for one!

I'm a big Matchbox 20 fan, (fan club and all!) and sometime around 2004, I got floor seats (9th row!) for their concert in Tampa. Sugar Ray was the opening act and they put on a pretty good show. Near the end, Mark McGrath did a crazy stage dive and ended up running in a big circle around the seats on the floor. We had aisle seats so my husband and I were sticking our hands out for high-fives when McGrath ran by. The crowd got kind of thick by us and when he ran by, instead of giving him a high-five, I kind of smacked him in a chest and my hands grazed his super-sweaty nipple. That's my Mark McGrath story. Didn't get the high-five, but I got some nipple action.

At the same concert, off to the side, a very pretty girl caught my eye. I kind of thought that she was Marisol, Rob Thomas's model-wife. When I saw a couple teenage boys posing for a picture with her, my suspicion was confirmed. When she got up and made her way through the crowd, heading towards the stage, I couldn't help myself. I acted like my dad.

"Marisol!" I yelled. Like I knew her. What the hell was I doing?

She turned around. What the hell was SHE doing?! She came back to me, tucking her hair behind her ear, smiling a dazzling smile. She said hi.

I had just watched their wedding on some recent TV special and I was a babbling idiot. "I just want to say that I think you and Rob are just beautiful. You guys are great. Wow." She smiled and said thank you and shook my hand. Then she made her way to the stage and disappeared behind it with some big, burly security dudes.

I turned to my husband. "Did you just see that?!"

Nope. He had been watching the concert. I told him what happened. He couldn't believe that I had just hollered her name and she came and talked to me.

When we saw her heading back to her seat, he gave it a try. He yelled her name. She came over and shook his hand. She smiled at me and said, "Hi, again," before going to her seat.


MySpace Friends

A few years ago, I was Jewel's "friend" on MySpace. (Yes, I know, it wasn't really her.) "Jewel" posted a bulletin that she was going to be appearing with Rob Thomas in Clearwater, Florida the next day, and would be giving away two tickets to the show, to the first one of her "friends" that sent her a message containing their address.

Okay, I realize that this could've been a bad move, just sending my address to someone that I didn't know, but for some crazy reason, I gave it a shot.

I got a message back from Jewel's PR person that said I was the first one, and that she'd be overnighting my tickets (for the concert THE NEXT DAY) to me.

Riiiiiiight. I kind of didn't believe it. But when I got home from work, there was a FedEx envelope propped against the door with an Atlantic Records return address. We were off to the concert!

While driving around looking for parking, we saw a big huge tour bus parked out back. Who did we see getting off? Rob Thomas.

This was going to be fun!

It was a great show. Another MySpace "friend," singer Toby Lightman, was the opening act. After her performance, I decided to go out in the lobby to check the merchandise and buy a CD. And what do you know, there she was, selling her stuff and autographing CDs. I asked her if she would take a picture, I handed my cameraphone over to somebody, and we got our picture taken. She's tiny!

Ami James & me
Ami James & me

Vegas, baby! Vegas!

In 2007, two girlfriends and I met up in Las Vegas for a long girls-only weekend. One morning, my friend Heather and I were sitting in the pool, trying to formulate our plans for the evening. We were also talking with two guys our age and exchanging ideas for things we needed to go do/see.

I got up to hit the bar and grab a couple beers (Because what else do you do at ten o'clock in the morning in Las Vegas? It's hot there, and I was thirsty!) and when I came back, Heather was all flustered, grabbing for my camera and hopping back into the pool. Apparently, while I was gone, Heather's conversation with one of the guys went like this:

Him: Man, look at that guy's tattoos. He's covered.
Him: WHO?
Him: I don't know who you're talking about.

That was about the time that I came back with our beers. I asked Heather what was going on. Why was she freaking out? Our exchange went much like this:

Heather: You're not going to believe this. AMI JAMES IS HERE.
Heather: He's over there, on the other side of the pool.
Me: [taking a peek] OH MY GOD, IT IS!
Heather: [taking pictures with my camera]
Me: [taking pictures with my phone, texting them to my husband and friends back home.]
Guy: You mean you actually know who that guy is?

Well, yes, of course, I knew who he was. Ami James is the tattoo artist/owner of Miami Ink, and star of the show on TLC. I have a couple tattoos and Heather and I were both fans of the show. We debated going to talk to him, but he seemed to be keeping a low profile, and nobody else seemed to have noticed him. We thought about going over to talk to him, but it was obvious that he was with his girlfriend or wife, and we kind of felt bad about disturbing them, since they were obviously on vacation and hanging out at the pool just like the rest of us.

But, our curiosity won out. We saw him get up and head over towards the bar. Heather and I bolted. While we scurried, giggling like idiots, in the direction we'd seen him go, I wondered if he would let me buy him a drink. And how exactly, would shy little me work up the nerve to offer to buy him a drink, much less ask for him to pose for a picture?!

When we rounded the corner, we realized that he'd gone off to an empty lounging area with no people around to make a phone call. He had his back to us, with his phone to his ear. We obviously couldn't interrupt him while he was on the phone. Disappointed, we turned to go, just as he turned around. He saw us, with our cameras in hand, smiled, and beckoned us over. Heather ran over first and I took her picture. Then we traded places, and I got my picture taken, all while he continued his conversation on the phone. So I didn't really talk to him, except to mouth, "THANK YOU!" when we scampered away. But at least I got a picture!

Me with Keaton Simons
Me with Keaton Simons
Tim Warren & me
Tim Warren & me

Sweaty Musicians

Last summer, my friends and I went to see Keaton Simons and Sister Hazel at Jannus Landing in St. Petersburg. I had just recently become a fan of Keaton Simons, so I was really glad that he was the opening act for this show. When he finished his set, I decided to see if I could make my way through the crowd and catch a glimpse of him when he came down off the stage. I did more than that - I almost ran right into him!

I stopped him and told him that I loved the CD and that his performance was great. I asked if he'd mind taking a picture, and he apologized for being so sweaty. I got my picture, though!

In December, my dad and I went to see The Alternate Routes and Mark Broussard at State Theater in St. Petersburg. After the Alternate Routes finished their set, I went out into the lobby to buy myself a drink, and I saw that Tim Warren, the lead singer, was standing in a room off of the lobby near all the merchandise, talking with the lady that was working the merch table. I had my camera on me, so OF COURSE, I asked if he would mind taking a picture with me. He apologized for being so sweaty. And, again, I got my picture!

"Who am I speaking with?" (Brushes with fame over the phone.)

When I was in high school, not long after we moved from Pittsburgh to Florida, we had an influx of friends and family come to visit. While friends of my parents were staying with us, we got a couple phone calls from someone who called himself "Danny." I took a couple messages, and thought it was weird that this guy kept calling and calling our house for my parents' friends.

There seemed to be kind of a fuss over the guy, so I finally asked, "Who's this Danny guy?" Everyone thought it was kind of funny, but I didn't know why.

It was Dan Marino. Miami Dolphins. He was a cousin of theirs. I'd talked to him numerous times on the phone and didn't have a clue. He ended up sending me an autographed picture later.

In 2001, I worked as an assistant to a wedding planner and was a general office rat at a bustling florist shop here in Florida. I was working on cost analysis reports from the weddings over the weekend and one of the phone lines kept ringing like crazy with no one available to answer it. I fielded the call, and was flabbergasted that someone was boisterously yelling through the phone to me, asking to speak to my boss. He sounded like he was in a good enough mood, so I didn't think anything was wrong. I took a message and waited for my boss to come in.

When I was finally able to relay the message to my boss, it went something like this:

"Your friend named... um... Dickie... called. He said to give him a call as soon as possible."

I really didn't know what the big deal was, or why my boss was all excited, going on about Dickie V. He got on the phone and called him right back, while I was still hanging around his office. They had a quick conversation, made some plans, and then my boss looked at me.

"Dickie V. Dick Vitale. You know, 'That's awesome, baby.'"

Sad thing was, at the time, I didn't know. And Dick Vitale actually lives around here. I saw him eating out on the patio at the Columbia restaurant a couple months ago. At least that time, I knew who he was.

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