When I was a kid, I never met a famous person -- well, unless you count Stephanie Wigglesworth, the queen of the seventh grade at Macon County Junior High. Being a mere commoner, I wasn't allowed to actually talk to her, so I'm not sure sitting behind her in math class counts as meeting her. (Although, it might explain why my math skills are so bad.)
But when I was in college, I desperately needed money for beer -- er, I mean school supplies -- so I got a job as a part-time sports writer at the local paper. I figured I was qualified for that since I was a sports nut and could write a few sentences -- probably because I sat clear across the room from Miss Wigglesworth in English class. And I've been in newspapers ever since.
As a sportswriter, I would meet scores of famous and semi-famous athletes -- college coaches, NFL players and coaches, soon-to-be NFL players, Olympians, PGA stars and more. Through the newspaper business, I also met famous non-sports folks like senators, congressmen, former presidents and TV stars -- if you consider Enos from "The Dukes of Hazzard" a TV star; having grown up in the 1970s and '80s, I most certainly did!
As my writing expanded beyond sports, I got to do interviews with musicians such as Charlie Daniels and TV star John Schneider, who played Bo on "The Dukes of Hazzard." (When I can finally get hold of Daisy Duke, my journalism career will be complete!) I was supposed to interview Hank Williams Jr., but when I called, his manager Merle Kilgore yelled at me, "Hank ain't doin' no damn interviews!" and slammed the phone down. Can't win 'em all.
When I first started meeting famous folks, I was nervous. And I remember having my bubble burst after I got real excited about meeting one of my sports heroes, only to find out he was a jerk in private. After that, I quit getting so excited about meeting famous folks. Be
they sports stars or Enos or Bo, famous folks run the gamut of personalities -- just like the rest of us. Some are super nice (like me). Others are jerks. Some waver between the two. The more humble their starts, though, the less likely they were to be jerks.
Last weekend, I had the chance to meet Grammy-winning musician John Mayer. It's not because John longed to meet one of the greatest writers ever to hail from Possum Holler, although I'm sure that had an awful lot to do with it. It's more that we both have soft spots for veterans, and our efforts to serve those who have served us just happened to cross paths.
It's our mutual concern for veterans that allowed his people (managers and such) and my people (me) to finally connect. His people got me backstage passes to meet John so I could thank him in person for volunteering on a project. I was excited about this, but my wife was ecstatic.
John Mayer is her favorite musician -- a common theme with women -- so weeks earlier I had gotten tickets for his show in Atlanta as part of her birthday present. When she found out later we were invited backstage, she was darn near delirious. But she was also nervous.
"I've never met anyone I wanted to meet before," she said.
"I mean nobody famous -- well, except for Tommy 'Wildfire' Rich," she clarified.
John turned out to be who I expected -- a genuinely nice and humble guy who cares about other folks. We talked about working with veterans, and he signed an album for my wife and posed for pictures. And his "people" were just as nice. I'm glad that my wife's first celebrity meeting since Tommy "Wildfire" Rich was not a bubble-burster.
He did burst my bubble, however, with a masterful performance on stage, doing things on a guitar that just aren't humanly possible.
Next time I whip out my guitar to serenade my wife with Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville" or Adam Sandler's "The Chanukah Song," she won't be the least bit impressed unless I play it behind my back. Thanks a lot, John.
But, after getting my wife backstage to meet her favorite musician, at least I pretty much have brownie points for life. She even said, "You can do anything you want now," before wisely adding, "within reason."
I began testing what qualifies as "within reason" before we even got out of metro Atlanta as we stopped at a Waffle House on the way home.
"What'll it be?" our waitress asked me.
"I'll have a bacon omelet with extra bacon and a side of bacon," I said. I looked nervously at my wife, who just smiled.
"And biscuit or toast?"
Ahh, life is good -- higher in cholesterol, but very good. Thanks a lot, John!
-- Connect with Chris Johnson at Facebook.com/KudzuKidWriting.