A few weeks ago, my friend Ruth and I were downtown having dinner with other friends. Afterwards, we were returning to her car in a nearby parking garage. When the elevator opened on our floor, there stood a guy that I know, but his name escaped me. I searched my entire brain for his name. This wasn’t just some guy I pass in the halls at work, I know him. Why can’t I think of his name?! This memory loss thing has been going on for a few years. I don’t know if it’s a temporary side effect of the hormonal changes of menopause or a much too early sign of old age. Either way, it’s annoying and terrifying.
Here I am face-to-face with someone I know very well whose name I can’t remember, but I want to say something. So, as I’m exiting the elevator, I pat him on the arm and say “Hey man, how ya doing?” He looked down at me, and I mean way down, because this guy is tall, and he says “I’m good. How are you?” When I heard his voice, it hit me. I don’t know him, I know his face. I know his face because I’ve seen it on my television hundreds of times. This is the comedian Billy Gardell. The Mike of Mike & Molly. OMG! I just said “hey man, how ya doing?” to a celebrity!
By the time I realized who he was, I’d already passed him so I turned around and welcomed him to Memphis and asked what he was doing here. He said he was filming a show. I told him I was a fan and he thanked me for watching. Ruth, who was my ride home, never stopped walking, never turned around. She’s making a beeline for her car because she is either a) unimpressed, b) embarrassed, or c) in a hurry. More likely, all three. So I’m continually walking, albeit backwards, to keep up with her while welcoming this celebrity to my hometown.
It’s not that celebrities don’t come to Memphis. They do. As a matter of fact, the very next day Ozzy Osbourne was spotted in Memphis. Also, I work in a pediatric hospital. As you have probably seen on the Internet, celebrities visit pediatric hospitals quite often. Johnny Depp has visited a children’s hospital in full Captain Jack Sparrow attire. I recently read that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson visited kids at a hospital in Chattanooga. Hello Dwayne if you’re reading this, the nurses, I mean, sick kids in Memphis would love to see The Rock!
But this wasn’t your average, run-of-the-mill, celebrity sighting. This guy was in a parking garage… alone. If Ruth hadn’t been in such a hurry, I would’ve stopped to give him directions. There’s no way he could know that when he arrived on the first floor he would need to make a quick right, another quick right, a quick left and then follow the hallway out of the building. And maybe I would’ve asked him to take a selfie with me to post on my blog so people would believe me.
When I hopped into the passenger side of Ruth’s car, she said “I can’t believe you didn’t try to take a selfie with him.” Believe me I would have if I hadn’t been afraid that she was going to leave me there.
So that’s my embarrassing brush with celebrity story. And here’s as close as I’ll ever get to a selfie with Billy Gardell….